Mark Stoops weighs in on Georgia Bulldogs: ‘We’re all trying to close that gap’

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops holds his press conference at SEC Media Days in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Kentucky coach Mark Stoops holds his press conference at SEC Media Days in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

One of the SEC Media Days’ most popular topics surrounded the reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Long-time Kentucky coach Mark Stoops closed out the third day Wednesday adding to the conversation.

“He’s (Georgia coach Kirby Smart) done a great job,” Stoops said. “I have a lot of respect for Kirby, the way they coach, recruit, the things they do in the program. They’re doing things right. I have to worry about us, how do I make us better.”

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Stoops has helped his team continue to climb the football standings since taking over 10 years ago. Kentucky had four winning seasons in the past five seasons, with two 10-win seasons coming in 2018 and 2021. Both of those years ended with the Wildcats finishing second behind the Bulldogs in the SEC East.

“When you’re playing, what, the very best, probably the best defense in the nation last year, you’re competing and you’re moving the football, you’re trying to get better, you’re trying to improve, you’re trying to learn what it’s like to play the very best in the country,” Stoops said.

This season will show a change in the SEC East’s landscape as every team faces new and essential changes. Florida welcomes coach Billy Napier, and Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker looks to restore the Volunteers to their historical stature. South Carolina will enter the Spencer Rattler era, and Missouri and Vanderbilt aim to turn around their luck, with both boasting improving recruiting classes.

Despite those moves, Stoops and Kentucky aim to continue holding onto their recent success.

“Last year we were fortunate enough to finish second in the East. However, we all know there was a large gap between Georgia and No. 2. We’re all trying to close that gap.”