The Kentucky Wildcats are in an unusual position this week, having to cope with success.
After winning just twice last season, and never having a winning record, Kentucky did not have to deal with that aspect last season. Now, the ‘Cats are 1-0 after a 59-14 thumping of Tennessee-Martin on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky played well on offense, amassing 656 yards of total offense, and the Wildcats played well on defense. UT-Martin did not score until later in the contest, when head coach Mark Stoops had pulled many of his starting defensive players.
Now, Stoops must prepare his team when it comes to handling success. How to talk to the media. How to be confident but not cocky. How to look forward to the next game without living in the past. Those are phrases that will emanate from the Kentucky locker room this week.
Kentucky needs to be confident, but not overconfident, when facing the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday. Ohio has been a successful team during the Frank Solich era in Athens. This is a team that will give Kentucky a run for its money, especially if the Wildcats are looking forward to the following game, which happens to be the SEC opener against the Florida Gators.
The Wildcats said all of the right things after winning on Saturday. That will likely continue this week. Stoops must guard against what’s in the heads of the players as well. Yes, quarterback Patrick Towles was outstanding, but he can improve. Yes, running back Braylon Heard was spectacular, but he needs to play more. Yes, the young players showed great promise, but they can get better. And that’s Stoops’ job this week.
Surely Kentucky won’t overlook Ohio this week. But handling success is new for this team, and no one is sure how they will handle it.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.