Kentucky Wildcats: Mark Stoops Era Officially Begins on Saturday

Mark Zerof, USA TODAY SPORTS

On Saturday in Nashville, the Kentucky Wildcats hit the field for the first time under new head coach Mark Stoops. Since his arrival in Lexington, Stoops has energized the team and the Big Blue Nation, and now he prepares his team for its first game.

After last season’s disappointing 2-10 record, Kentucky needed a change, and athletic director Mitch Barnhart brought in Stoops. Now his job is to get Kentucky back to respectability in the Southeastern Conference.

Stoops, the brother of Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops, is a defensive-minded coach, having served as defensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles most recently. He hopes to build Kentucky’s defense like he did with Florida State.

Since Stoops arrived in Lexington, there have been a number of changes in the football program. Stoops has ramped up UK’s recruiting to a level never before seen in the Bluegrass. If the commits in the 2014 class all sign with UK, it will be the best recruiting class that Kentucky has ever had by far.

And while improving the talent level is very important, Stoops also knows that players must perform on the field. He and his staff have been working with the returning players to get them ready for one of the nation’s toughest schedules.

Stoops’ job of rebuilding won’t be quick, and it won’t be easy, but he seems to be making all of the right decisions at this point. It will be interesting to see the improvement of the returnees, as well as the talent upgrade at some positions.

While this year may be a struggle for the Wildcats, the future looks promising, and that can be attributed to Stoops and his staff.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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