Campus Corner

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops expects breakthrough from Wildcats

Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops watches from the sidelines in the second quarter during Saturday's Univeristy of Missouri and University of Kentucky SEC football game at Faurot Field on Nov. 1, 2014 in Columbia, Mo.
Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops watches from the sidelines in the second quarter during Saturday's Univeristy of Missouri and University of Kentucky SEC football game at Faurot Field on Nov. 1, 2014 in Columbia, Mo. The Kansas City Star

HOOVER, Ala. — Simply making it back to SEC Media Days for a third season was a victory of sorts for Kentucky coach Mark Stoops.

“It’s great to be back,” he said in his opening remarks Wednesday at SEC Media Days. “(It’s) my third year here at the SEC Media Days. Really glad the first two years trying to build this program didn’t kill me, but the first two years really went extremely fast.”

Stoops also believed they provided valuable lessons for the Wildcats’ coaching staff and players, which might set the stage for a breakthrough in 2015.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to make Kentucky relevant in the SEC East,” Stoops said. “As we move into this third year, we really feel like we put ourselves in a position to do just that.”

Kentucky remains unsettled at quarterback despite the presence of incumbent starter Patrick Towles and will transition to a 3-4 defense this season.

The Wildcats narrowly missed a bowl game after starting the season 5-1 before a six-game slide in October and November.

Stoops knows his chatter about taking that next step needs to be more than empty words, especially after a massive renovation at Commonwealth Stadium during the offseason.

“Is there any other way? That’s what it is,” he said. “You all expect me to make progress every year and certainly my bosses do.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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