LEXINGTON, Ky. (8/5/2013)—Monday afternoon at 3:30 the UK football team took the field for its first practice after summer break. With new coaches and the number one ranked recruiting class in America, the team and the Big Blue Nation have great expectations for the upcoming football season.
“We will see how today’s practice goes,” said Head Coach Mark Stoops. “We need the incoming freshman to make us better and today we will see who jumps out at us right away. I’m excited to see how much they have improved this summer and I can’t wait to coach them.”
Stoops believes in a day-by-day process and encourages everyone to try and meet the goals that they have set since they met in the spring.
“The only thing we can do is go out there today and perform well,” said Stoops. “From there we will get better and better.”
One would think that Stoops would want all of the sleep he could get before the season started today, but that was the last thing on his mind.
“I was excited to wake up today and get out on the field,” Stoops said. “I didn’t sleep hardly at all last night; I am ready to see what this team and this season holds.”
The team has 15 practices before their first game against Western Kentucky University on August 31.
“They have quite a bit on their plate in the upcoming practices,” said Stoops. “However, we are all excited and I want the fans excited about what we are doing. Most people understand where we are at as a program and where we want to get to; we have a lot of work to do and we are excited about doing it.”
In the next few weeks a new quarterback will be chosen.
“They are all good people, none of those guys are jealous, and they are solid human beings,” said Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown. “The guys understand that the process of picking our quarterback is going to be about ‘we’ not ‘me.’”
Jalen Whitlow, Patrick Towles, and Max Smith are up for the quarterback position.
“We have a vision this year, we know what we want to do and I don’t think anything can stop us from achieving what we want to achieve,” said Whitlow.
Playing in front of 50,000 people at the spring game only gave the guys more incentive to perform at their best.
“Excitement is brought from within, especially growing up as a UK fan,” said Towles. “We as a team are more focused on fundamentals, performing very sharp and are getting to know the offensive plays day by day.”
Smith said there is no pressure right now going into the first practice this season.
“It’s a collective effort and we all want success,” said Smith. “Whether it’s going to the Bowl Game or winning more games than losing, those both define success to me.”
A few goals that the team has set to accomplish each game is to perform at 48 percent or better on third downs, have 75 plus snaps and have 50 percent or higher on first downs.
“We are hoping to put a product on the field that resembles this state, at a high tempo, and we are going to do the best that we can,” said Brown.
Today starts a very promising season for the UK football team, and the coaches, team and fans are eager to get the season started.
“We still need to figure out what the strengths and weakness are,” said Defensive Coordinator D.J. Eliot. “We are going to be looking at what the players can do and how we can use them, then put them in the position that they perform best at.”
To get your first glimpse of the 2013 UK Football team, come to Fan Day at Commonwealth Stadium at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9. There will be an open practice, autograph signing and a free firework show.
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