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Stoops keeping a watchful eye on COVID-19 protocols at Citrus Bowl

The virus has already cancelled several bowl games.

Mark Stoops Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

Coach Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats rolled into Orlando on Sunday with their sights set on two formidable opponents at this year’s Citrus Bowl — the Iowa Hawkeyes and the new Omicron Variant.

One is a familiar foe as Stoops himself is an Iowa alum, playing safety for the Hawkeyes from 1986-88, while the other remains a mystery as a slew of Bowl Games have already been cancelled due to Covid issues.

The Wildcats hit the practice field for the first time on Monday, getting back to work in the beautiful 77-degree Orlando weather after a month off that last saw the Wildcats close the regular season with a 52-21 win over rival Louisville on November 27th.

“Good Monday for us,” said Stoops after practice. “We need to tighten some things up as to be expected after a few days off. (We’re) getting down here a little bit rusty, a little bit off with some of our timing but guys were in really good spirits and practiced hard, and we’re excited to be down here and ready to go.”

Most importantly, Stoops says all systems are go with a healthy roster as the Wildcats prepare for an Iowa team that recently lost to Michigan in the Big 10 title game. The Hawkeyes are 10-3 this season.

“We are - knock on wood - at this point in time, but you never know,” said Stoops when asked if his team was in a good spot with Covid numbers. “We’re doing the best we can to adhere to the protocols that we have in place and trying to live with it the best we can.”

Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky’s leading receiver, added on Monday that the Wildcats are taking extra precautions to get everyone on the field on New Year’s Day.

“Just making sure that we’re wearing masks and everybody’s sanitizing and doing things like that,” said Robinson. “Our staff does a really good job of making sure that we’re safe and away from everybody.”

Kentucky, 9-3, will play in its sixth bowl game under Stoops on January 1st with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The Wildcats have won its last three bowl games with wins over NC State, Virginia Tech and Penn State.

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