Four Takeaways From Kentucky’s 2018 SEC Media Days
Entering his sixth season in Lexington, Mark Stoops is now the longest-tenured coach in the SEC East and second in the conference. Stoops was joined by linebacker Josh Allen, tight end C.J. Conrad and running back Benny Snell in Atlanta to talk about the 2018 season. In addition to having 16 starters returning from a year ago, Kentucky has four potential All-SEC players. The Wildcats’ head man touched on a number of subjects and here are Four Takeaways From Kentucky’s 2018 SEC Media Days.
No New Updates On The Quarterback Situation
The biggest question heading into fall camp remains “who is the starting quarterback?” Junior College transfer Terry Wilson and redshirt sophomore Gunnar Hoak are competing to replace Stephen Johnson.
Stoops told the media he is in no hurry to name a starting quarterback ahead of the September 1st opener against Central Michigan.
#Kentucky’s Mark Stoops says he has no timetable on a quarterback decision. Says it wouldn’t be fair to the players or the competition.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) July 16, 2018
Stoops reiterated what he has said all summer that both quarterbacks bring a lot to the table.
Asked about the QB situation, Stoops says that he likes the poise and understanding of the system that Gunnar Hoak has, having been in the program for a couple of years. Adds that he's excited about the dynamic that Terry Wilson brings to the table. "I like our options."
— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) July 16, 2018
The Kentucky head man added he hasn’t seen all Wilson can do because “they haven’t gone live yet.” It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both quarterbacks get playing time in the opener.
Benny Snell Is Going To Have A Huge Year
The Westerfield, Ohio native needs 1,412 yards to break the all time rushing mark set by Sonny Collins. Snell always plays with a chip on his shoulder and the ejection in the Music City Bowl only adds to it.
Benny Snell at SEC Media Days
"I feel like we don't get enough respect, but with that it gives us the chip (on our shoulder)."
"The doubt that we're going to get this year we're going to prove them wrong"
— Big Blue Insider (@bigblueinsider1) July 16, 2018
Stoops said of Snell, “there are some star running backs in this league and Benny is worth all the hype he gets.” Furthermore, he was asked about relying on Snell even more while the quarterback situation plays out. Stoops says he is already a workhorse and it is really difficult to increase his workload.
Experience Will Be A Key To Success
As mentioned earlier, Kentucky returns 16 starts from the 2017 squad which went 7-6 for a second straight season. With the experience Stoops says there is a change in expectations in their sixth year they are embracing it.
"Top to bottom, this is the most solid football team we've had." – Mark Stoops just now to Paul @finebaum
— Dan Rieffer (@drieffer) July 16, 2018
He adds they are looking forward to making a jump this season. It is a matter of redefining the things they have worked on the last five years to put it all together. Another big key is, for only the second time in six years, Stoops has both coordinators returning. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran begins his third season while defensive coordinator Matt House is in his second. Kentucky is shooting for its first winning record in the SEC since 1977.
— Fred Perdue (@FredPerdueCFB) July 16, 2018
A Couple Of Games Won’t Make The Season
As we continue with Four Takeaways From Kentucky’s 2018 Media Days, the final one concerns the schedule. It seems like every year the staff is asked: “when are you going to break the 31 year losing streak to Florida?”
Stoops says “you can’t hide from the elephant in the room and ‘The Swamp’ is a tough place to play.” We need to beat Florida, however, we need to beat a lot of teams on our schedule.” The players agree with that assessment.
Josh Allen said that a victory over Florida is just a small goal for the Wildcats. The real goal is a SEC Championship. #SECMD18
— Carlyle Rickenmann (@CRickenmann) July 16, 2018
Despite downplaying the game, for the Cats to finally take that next step in the SEC a win over the Gators is a must.
Conversely, Stoops was asked about all the love South Carolina is getting in the preseason polls. Kentucky has defeated the Gamecocks four straight seasons who are picked second in many polls behind Georgia.
Mark Stoops: "I don't need South Carolina to motivate me. We don't need them for our motivation, that's for sure. We've won four in a row, but it's about this year."
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) July 16, 2018
Much like finally beating Florida, a fifth straight win over South Carolina cements the program as a contender.
Thanks for checking out Four Takeaways From Kentucky’s 2018 Media Days here at Last Word On College Football. Coming soon is a look at the most and least winnable games on the Wildcats schedule.