Scout.com/Jeff Drummond

Four takeaways from Kentucky Wildcats coach Mark Stoops' weekly press luncheon

Coming off an emotional, last-second victory over Mississippi State, the Kentucky staff has little time to revel in the victory as a trip to Missouri is up next in yet another key game to the Wildcats' bowl hopes. Read more about four takeaways from UK head coach Mark Stoops' weekly press luncheon.

1. "Over The Hump"

Toughness -- both mental and physical -- has been a theme that Stoops has preached since he arrived in Lexington. It became an even bigger rallying cry this year with the Cats coming off back to back 5-7 seasons in which a play here or a play there could have led to a bowl game. After Saturday's last-second win over Mississippi State, Kentucky now has three SEC wins by seven or fewer points. In the last two games, UK has made a goal line stand to beat Vanderbilt and executed a nearly flawless two-minute drill to take down Mississippi State. "We're most certainly getting better in toughness and grit and finding ways to win," Stoops said.

2. Heart to Heart

Stoops revealed that he had a "heart to heart" with Jeff Badet on Friday leading up to the Mississippi State game. The UK boss did not divulge the details of the conversation or what prompted it, but reading between the lines, Badet was getting frustrated with UK's stalled passing attack (89 and 49 yards) in the previous two games. The junior wide receiver responded well from that conversation, catching a season-high seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs. His 18-yard reception with three seconds remaining set up Austin MacGinnis's game-winning 51-yard field goal. 

3. Early Kickoff a Challenge at Mizzou

Kickoff for Saturday's game at Missouri is slated for Noon ET, a challenge for the staff in a road game at a venue in which UK has not played well in two previous trips. "We gotta get some sleep," Stoops said. "I mean, we gotta get up and play at 11 o'clock their time. Most of our guys are still in bed. I shouldn't say that. (Laughs) But we gotta wake up ready to go."

4. Brace for Speed

The biggest challenge in facing Mizzou is the speed in which the Tigers run their offense. Although they're coming off a 51-45 loss to Middle Tennessee State, the Tigers ran an eye-popping 112 snaps on offense and amassed 629 yards in total offense. "That's two games," Stoops quipped. By comparison, UK has averaged 64.7 offensive snaps per game this season. "Depth is an issue. We can't let them have 112 plays," Stoops said. "We have to have more guys step up and be ready to play."

CLICK HERE to visit the Scout network's Mizzou site for coverage on the Tigers throughout game week.


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