LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - Coming into his fifth season as Kentucky's head football coach, Mark Stoops said he's feeling very optimistic.
"I'm excited," he said. "I think it's a really good group. Our team seems to have a much better focus about them, and I know the development of our leadership is becoming more and more evident."
Through his first four seasons, Stoops has a record of 19-30, but his Cats are coming off their first bowl appearance in five years.
"This year our team is stronger, we're more mature and we need to put the fine strokes on things to achieve better success than last year, " he said.
After winning just two games in Stoops' first season, the program is taking a turn for the better after finishing last year with seven wins, including an upset of in-state rival Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
"It's really about us and where we finish," Stoops said. "Nobody predicted us last year to be tied for second in the SEC East, but we'd like to get better than that. We're worried about ourselves and where we finish and whatever way we want to motivate ourselves I'm OK with."
Stoops' troops have high hopes to grow that win total despite their schedule being one of the nation's toughest.
"This year we have some experience, we have some depth, we have some strength, and we need to come out of the block strong starting now," Stoops said.
Kentucky opens Sept. 2 at Southern Mississippi.