Stoops doesn’t dwell on 30-game losing streak against Florida


Head Coach for the Kentucky Wildcats, Mark Stoops walks during the Cat Walk prior to the game against EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated EKU 27 to 16. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Jacob Heheman

Before Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops addressed the media about this week’s game against Florida, he gave credit to his team for their performance against South Carolina Saturday night.

The Wildcats defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 23-13 in Columbia, South Carolina. The win improved Kentucky’s record to 3-0, their first such start since 2010. Stoops said the team stepped up when they needed to most and that made a difference in the game.

“We really executed very well in critical situations in a tough, hostile environment,” Stoops said.

A key absence in the South Carolina game was linebacker Jordan Jones. Jones suffered a shoulder injury in the game against Eastern Kentucky.

Junior Eli Brown filled in for Jones against South Carolina. He is listed as the starting weak-side linebacker against Florida, with Jones listed as doubtful.

“I was very pleased with the way Eli played,” Stoops said. “I think he’s just been much more consistent. 

While Kentucky fans may dwell on the Cats’ 30-game losing streak to Florida, Stoops has never made it a point of emphasis for his team.

“You know, honestly, I haven’t addressed that before,” Stoops said. “It’s never been my approach. These guys haven’t been here for 30 years.”

Despite the 30-game losing streak, Kentucky has come close to beating Florida in recent years. In 2014, Kentucky lost in triple overtime 36-30 in Gainesville and came close again in 2015, losing 14-9 in Lexington.

Last year, however, Kentucky took a step back against the Gators, getting blown out 45-7 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

When asked about last year’s performance against Florida, Stoops said he goes back to that game as a reminder of what not to do this year.

“We do watch that because that’s very recent and you can’t make the same mistakes again,” Stoops said. 

Kentucky succeeded in a hostile environment against the Gamecocks Saturday. Williams-Brice Stadium hosted 82,493 fans that went into a frenzy after South Carolina scored on their first offensive play. 

Stoops is hoping for a similar atmosphere at Kroger Field this Saturday. 

“I hope our fanbase is energized and I know our team is looking forward to that,” Stoops said. “They’re a big piece of what we do and we need their support and they make a difference.”