LEXINGTON – August 2, 2019 – Bradley Charles
With the season roughly four weeks away, the Kentucky football team held their annual media day at Kroger Field today. As players and coaches fielded questions about the upcoming season, optimism and excitement was the recurring theme.
Head Coach Mark Stoops was particularly excited for the upcoming season and did not back away from high expectations. When Stoops was asked about his high confidence level despite losing key players, he responded, “We’re not interested in going back. We’re not here to take steps back. We’re continuing to grow. We’re here to improve the program… I know I’m judged on wins and losses. But internally we’re judged on how we’re building our program, what we’re doing to continue to grow and put ourselves in a position to be successful. That’s what it’s all about.” While it will be hard to improve on last year’s historical season, Stoops’ comments and mentality comes as no surprise.
Defensive Coordinator Brad White spoke highly of his defense. When asked about replacing Josh Allen, he stated, “You can’t replace Josh. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows Josh was a special talent, one of those generational-type players. What we have to do now is find the next one.” White went on to say that with the talent we have on the interior of our defensive line and with blitzing linebackers, we can cause all kinds of issues. Obviously, losing Josh Allen will hurt, but the Wildcats can still have a high-quality defense without him.
Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran emphasized the importance of adapting to his players. Gran stated, “This offensive philosophy is about your personnel.” Gran, in reference to his run heavy approach last season, answered, “If I go back there and I want to rip it around, because I want statistics, I wouldn’t be here right now, because that wouldn’t have been very smart… It’s about team. It’s about wins. Is it not still about winning the game? It doesn’t matter, the bottom line is win the game.” Gran is correct. The ultimate goal is to get the win. You play to win the game and not to achieve certain stats. Sometimes they come hand in hand, but not all the time.
Lynn Bowden might be the face of the Kentucky offense this season, but it’s Terry Wilson that will have the most impact on success. If the Wildcats and Wilson are able to establish a premier passing game, everything will come much easier to the Kentucky offense. Although last year was Wilson’s first season as a Wildcat, he showed what he was capable of and became one of the unquestioned leaders on offense. Wilson was asked about the team’s mindset after losing key players from last season, “We’re thinking about us. Those guys played a big role on this team last year and they’re onto bigger and better things and so we just have to worry about us and take care of what we need to take care of. That’s really how the attitude is around here. We’re just worried about us and getting better for the season.”
Excitement for the upcoming season is certainly building among the team and coaching staff. The Wildcats will play eight games at Kroger field this season, starting with the season opener on August 31st against Toledo.