Stoops looking for right buttons to push

With his team riding a four-game losing streak and suddenly sporting a .500 record after an impressive 5-1 start, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops is approaching the final weeks of the season looking for the right buttons to push to get the Wildcats back on track.

After a frustrating, mistake-laden loss at Missouri, Stoops turned the volume up and let his anger resonate at the Nutter Training Center.

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It didn’t work, at least not for the entire team. Kentucky was throttled 63-31 by Georgia on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium with the Bulldogs scoring touchdowns at will.

“I do have to find myself sitting back and saying, OK, let's re-evaluate,” Stoops said Monday during his weekly press luncheon. “You guys know the approach I took last week, obviously it didn't work, so that's my problem as a head coach, and you can't continue to do the same thing over and over again and get the same results, that's for sure.

“That's always the million dollar question, how to get to your team, get to your players. I've always felt very comfortable dealing with half of the team, now the whole team, it's a little different.”

Stoops indicated on his weekly radio call-in show that instead of unleashing his frustration at the whole team or a specific unit, he had individual discussions with players who were having repeated issues with execution.

“Maybe we're not to the point where we can – I better be careful of my words – not to the point where you can push them through that wall,” Stoops said. “We've got to do the very best we can and find the right mental approach, put them in the right position with coaching, and continue to push and move forward.”

The response was positive, Stoops added.

Despite the recent struggles, there's still a lot left to play for, the UK boss said. With one more victory, the Cats can make themselves bowl-eligible in only the second year under Stoops, an accomplishment that would almost certainly bolster their already impressive recruiting and give the current players an extra month of practice reps and development.

“We're 5 5 and with two great opportunities left, again, starting with this one (Saturday at Tennessee),” Stoops said. “… We've got to get that attitude right and have the a great week and put everything we can into this week and then we get the bye to heal up a little bit and get a little extra preparation time (before the Louisville game), so we'll see.”

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