Cats looking ‘rusty’ two weeks away from bowl game


Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops shakes hands with fans during the Cat Walk before the game against Ole Miss on Saturday, November 4, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky lost the game 37-34. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Chris Leach

The UK football team has known details about its bowl game for a while now but  haven’t done much to prepare for it.

Between finals and recruiting visits, coaches and players have been busy and unable to fully prepare for Northwestern. With all that out of the way, their attention can now fully be on the bowl game.

“We got school out of the way, we’re relieved now so it’s just all football and I feel like it’s just all fun from here on out,” running back Benny Snell said.

Since the Cats haven’t had much time to practice or finalize their game plan, head coach Mark Stoops said the team looked a little rusty after Friday’s practice.

However, that’s expected with all the off-time they’ve had in December.

“We had two weeks (off) before last week’s practice and then another week this week with finals,” Stoops said. “We’re definitely rusty, we’ll need to get going with that.” 

As for the game plan, Stoops said they’ll spend the time they have now till Christmas break figuring out how to handle Northwestern. Stoops expects that the team will be able to complete its prep before leaving for Christmas break, then they’ll revisit and review the plan when they get in Nashville.

He would rather have the game plan finalized in Lexington instead of having to add new things when the team engages in bowl game activities.

“It’ll go fast and there will be distractions down there,” Stoops said.

Big recruiting weekend for UK football

The recruiting visits might be mostly over, but that doesn’t mean that recruiting is over before Dec. 20’s early singing period. 

Stoops said that upwards of 24 prospects are officially visiting Kentucky’s campus this week before the early signing period in hopes of finalizing his 2018 class. 

Stoops said the group will have a couple of dinners and will attend tomorrow’s men’s basketball game against Virginia Tech. 

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However, not all the recruits on campus this week are undeclared, as Stoops has already gotten commitments from the guys on campus this week.

“Lot of these guys have been committed for a while so we like pulling them in together and basically use it as a celebration,” Stoops said.

For the ones who still have to make a decision, Stoops likely mentions that they’ll get to play with Snell, an all-SEC running back. Snell also gets a chance to talk to the prospects, and he always tells them the same thing.

“I tell guys that it’s all about the work ethic, technique, how bad you want it is how fast you going to get on the field,” Snell said.

UK football graduates 17 

Another big event took place on campus this weekend for the football team, and that’s graduation.

Stoops said the team had about 17 graduates, including quarterback Stephen Johnson. Johnson said he was happy to finally graduate and enjoyed having teammates at his side.

“It was really cool to finally do that and have Naquez Pringle and Alex Montgomery right behind doing it with them was pretty cool,” Johnson said.