Kentucky Wildcats Head Coach Mark Stoops met with the press today at noon for his first weekly news conference of the season. Stoops had plenty to talk about as the team prepares for its opening game this Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette
The news broke earlier today but Stoops confirmed that Kyle Meadows and Corey Johnson are both serving a suspension and will not play on Saturday due to a violation of team rules.
Injuries played a major factor in derailing the Cats hot start last season and during fall camp several key players have been hobbled.
Promising wide receiver Alex Montgomery who missed last season with a torn ACL will play on Saturday. "He’s done a nice job working his way back to get into the lineup and to get healthy", said Stoops.
Linebacker Ryan Flannigan is still questionable. "If he can practice Tuesday or Wednesday he will play" said Stoops.
The New CWS
"It’s an exciting time to open this stadium", said Stoops about the occasion of the team playing its first game in the newly renovated Commonwealth Stadium.
The UK head coach also pointed out a correlation between the work on the stadium and the combined efforts of his players and staff to make this a special season.
Even though the Ragin’ Cajuns are breaking in a new quarterback Stoops was very complimentary of UL-Lafayette.
Stoops believes that the Cats defense will face a challenge against ULL’s offense, noting that they do a great job creating space.
On topic of Ragin’ Cajuns star running back Elijah McGuire Stoops said, "He’s a very dynamic player. He gets a lot yards."
Shannon Dawson’s Offense
Stoops stated that new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson’s offense will not look much different from what UK fans were accustomed to seeing under Neal Brown.
"There’s nothing totally, dramatically different. I think you will see a lot sets you are used to seeing. I think you will see a lot of plays you are used to seeing", said Stoops.
Stoops stated that he does love Coach Dawson’s emphasis on physicality and that it has added an important tangible to the team’s practices.
Coach Stoops said 9 true and 10 redshirt freshmen may see the field on Saturday. He indicated cornerback Chris Westry and running back Sihiem King were especially impressive in fall camp.
Still, Stoops brought up the point that at some positions Kentucky finally has enough quality depth that he and staff feel comfortable about redshirting more freshmen such as wide outs Tavin Richardson and Jabari Greenwood. Stoops did not rule out either playing this season though and said that "if we need them win football games we’ll play them."
Stoops also said he hopes to get Drew Barker some experience this Saturday "when the game is on the line."