Winning next two games is important to Mark Stoops


Coach Mark Stoops wants expectations high for his team. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Win or lose against Louisville, Kentucky will be going to another bowl game.

Beating Louisville and finishing 7-5 won’t send Kentucky to a New Year’s Day bowl but it will get a better bowl berth than if it finishes 6-6. However, coach Mark Stoops wants a win to finish a disappointing regular season on a high note, especially against rival Louisville.

“It’s a different era. It’s different times and things are changing fast with this landscape. For me, I think it’s very important to win the last game and it’s important to win the bowl game,” Stoops said. “It sets the tone for the whole offseason and the morale of your team.

“And so, it’s a big game. It’s a rivalry. I think Louisville is playing very, very good. I know they’re much more confident probably this year than they’ve been with the way they’re playing and the way in some of the games we’ve had. We have to be prepared and ready to go.”

Kentucky won 10 games in 2018 and 2021, something UK football has done only a few times. Many thought Kentucky had a great chance to win 10 games again this year. The Cats could still win eight games, but most fans are not overly excited about that.

Stoops is fine with the expectations being raised for his team.

“I can handle the criticism and I want expectations high. It’s just like we asked that question earlier about how I handle preseason hype. I’m not hyping it up. I’m not going to talk bad about my team. Why would I do that?” Stoops said.

I believe in them. I love them. I love the way they work and prepare and play for each other. I’m not going to — I mean, again, if I say, yeah, I want to be 10-2, am I giving up on two? That’s my philosophy. I don’t give up on any of them. I understand. I’m a big boy. I can handle people wanting more. I want more, too.”

5 Responses

  1. Coach Stoops has steadily improved the football program. No climb up a mountain to the SEC football summit is without disappointment and setbacks, and 2022 has been full of both.

    Many fans are disgruntled toward Coach Stoops in addition to the disappointment. I suppose this is a product of increased expectations, and I would much rather be disappointed by a 6-5 record going into the last game than the old way of being relieved that this will not be yet another losing season of football. That is how much Coach Stoops has already changed the culture surrounding this football program.

    I want UK to beat UL Saturday. I believe this game is extremely important for the program as well as the fan base.

    As a fan, my hope for this off-season is for Coach Stoops to take affirmative steps to solve the O Line issues that plagued this team and fix the special teams issues with a special teams coach. Show significant improvement in these two areas in 2023 will be important to maintaining the advance of this program, and bringing a large number of doubting fans back on the team bus.

  2. Our O line has been an issue all season. That combined with the injuries that Levis has played through for the most part, have changed the dynamics of our offense. I won’t be surprised if we finish the season with 2 more losses. 2022 will end as a season of disappointment, regardless of the outcome. Rest up, plan, recruit, practice, and build a 2023 team that exceeds expectations and the disappointment of 2022 will be forgotten. If Coach Stoops donates his pay increase to help the victims of the floods in east KY and the tornado in west KY, he will be able to forget the sting of 2022 as well.

  3. The Prof is all over it !
    Guess I was wrong when I opined “Ole Miss is the biggest game of the year”
    Tomorrow may be the biggest game of the Stoops era.
    Can you spell TRAJECTORY ? Absolutely huge for both teams.

    1. I believe all games are important. The interpretaton of the outcomes varies depending on the opponent and other circumstances, and the most important game is always the next game on the schedule.

      In the "all games are important" category, I mean all games, including the traditional opening games because if the opponent is legitimately weaker than UK is or should be, then the only important response to those "challenges" is to dominate the game. It is important to go out play the best game you can, and not let up in EVERY GAME.

      Too many times, UK football teams have exposed their weaknesses in those type of games, and despite the feel-good W, the weaknesses tend to be ignored and end up costing the team in "really big games" later in the season.

  4. Yeah the Louisville game is huge after the kind of year UK has produced thus far, and after all the early hype. Problem is, you never know which UK team is going to show up. The one that generally gets it’s brains beat out by Tennessee every stinking year it seems, or the one that lost to Vandy and USC at home this year, or the one that gave UGA a game last Saturday, but still found a way to lose. If UK don’t come to play, and with some game and attitude, they will lose to Louisville. Most importantly, UK’s offense has got to pick it up!

    I”ll tell you what concerns me most going forward, it’s year 2023. Who is the QB going to be? Who will the TB be? How will UK’s 2023 recruiting class shake out? Who stays and who transfers? Also, that a possible 6-6 finish could happen should be all the motivation this team needs to get win 7 at home come Saturday in Lexington. Lose this one and I believe Coach will begin to get hammered by many a UK football fan going into 2023 season.

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