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Mark Stoops and Justin Fuentes preview Belk Bowl

“We know it’s going to be a real challenge, but we’re excited about this opportunity.”

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

We’re just under three weeks away from the Kentucky Wildcats’ final game of 2019, as they’re set to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2019 Belk Bowl.

On Wednesday, head coaches from both teams met Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Here is a recap of what Mark Stoops had to say via UK Athletics:

Opening statement …

“It’s a pleasure to be here in Charlotte representing the University of Kentucky. It’s a real honor to get to play in the Belk Bowl, playing against a team like Virginia Tech, such rich history, always so well coached. Congratulations on a great year. We’re really confident that we’ll have a great week. Heard nothing but great things about this city and about this bowl. We thank you. We appreciate the invitation. We know it’s going to be a real challenge, but we’re excited about this opportunity. Looking forward to get going. It is a busy time. Coach (Fuente) and I were talking, we’ve been waking up in one city, departing to take off and go to another, so it’s a pretty busy time in recruiting. Excited about getting this wrapped up and moving on to the bowl prep.”

Regarding bowl preparation and the impact of the early signing period …

“We took the first weekend off to give our kids to heal up a little bit. We had some official visits on campus but we’ll get back at it this weekend. Probably just get back at football, like coach (Fuente) said, against each other. Trying to play fast and have a couple of good practices. For us it is a bit condensed. Our finals week goes up until the 20th, so that throws a little wrinkle in that week of preparation. In years past we’ve been able to practice in that week, so we will be a bit condensed. We have to have some good practices this weekend, have to give the players some time up until the 20th, try to sneak in a practice maybe late Thursday night on the 19th. Then, try to give them a couple of days to go home for Christmas and report down here on the 26th.”

Regarding what it was like leading up to the bowl assignment …

“We have great leadership and I leave that to them. For us, we’re just looking forward to this opportunity. Our players are very excited to be here. Coming to this bowl, it has such a great reputation. It’s a great city and of course you get matched up with a Virginia Tech team, with the history they have, and the coaching staff. So, we’re excited to be here.”

Regarding an ACC vs. SEC matchup…

“I think for us it’s just important to win the last game. I think no matter who you’re playing, whether it’s a league game or any opponent, winning the bowl game is important. It’s important to your fan base that travels down to the game. As far as the league affiliation, we don’t get real caught up in that. We have great respect for them and the league. We’re really worried about ourselves and playing the best football we can.”

And here is a replay of both coaches previewing the game:

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