Three takeaways from UK’s SEC media day


Head coach Mark Stoops addresses the media on National Signing Day at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Chris Leach

On Wednesday afternoon, UK’s football team took center stage at the SEC media days in Hoover, Ala., giving the media the chance to shed some light on the Cats’ biggest story-lines for the upcoming season.

Along with Mark Stoops, Courtney Love, Stephen Johnson and Mike Edwards made the trip to Hoover to answer the many questions the media had.

Various topics were brought up, but there were several patterns of similar questions that all four representatives answered. Here are some of those headlines that were addressed at the SEC media days.

UK has a quarterback battle on their hands.

You would think upsetting in-state rival Louisville would guarantee Johnson the starting quarterback job, but that’s not the case as Drew Barker returns from a back injury and Gunnar Hoak continues to impress.

In the latest depth chart released by UK, Johnson was named the starting quarterback but Mark Stoops does not see that as a guarantee yet.

“Let’s let the process play out and give Stephen (Johnson) the respect he deserves but give Drew (Barker) and Gunnar (Hoak) the respect they deserve too,” Stoops said. “Just like all of our players, they’re out there to compete and win a starting job.”

However, Johnson said that he had been told he will be the starter for the Cats’ season-opener against Southern Mississippi. Until one quarterback separates them self from the others, expect these types of questions to be asked.

Losing streak to Florida on UK’s mind

Usually when athletes or coaches are asked a question about a game that is not next on the schedule, they usually brush it off and talk about the next game.

However that wasn’t the case when the Cats were asked about the home game against Florida, which is the third game on the schedule. UK has lost to Florida in the last 30 contests, and UK seems determined to end the streak.

“I think our players are probably well aware of that (the streak), because what we’re a month or two months away from playing Florida,” Stoops said. “It’s getting talked about right now. So I think they’ll hear that a few times between right now and the time we play them.”

Johnson also answered questions about the Florida game during his appearance on the Paul Finebaum Show during Wednesday’s media rounds.

Players using last season’s success to fuel outlook on this season

Last season for the Cats was arguably one of the best in recent memory.

An upset win over in-state rival Louisville and attending a bowl game for the first time since 2010 highlighted the best season in the Stoops-era. With last year’s successes and many returning starters, the Cats are constantly thinking of what they can accomplish this year.

“We talk about it all the time, just trying to build the team together,” Edwards said. “The past years didn’t go as well, but we’ve been progressing every year.”

With the progression that the program has made since Stoops arrived in Lexington, expectations are high for the Cats this season. With many returning starters and a good incoming recruiting class, the Cats could make some noise this fall if things fall into place.

“We’ve got a great group of guys with phenomenal talent. These freshman guys are really wanting to learn a lot and guys are really starting to pick up some leadership roles,” Johnson said. “Our chemistry is building together as a team.”