After finishing the 2020 slate with a losing record for the first time in five seasons, Head Coach Mark Stoops has his Kentucky Wildcats ready to claw their way back to respectability. A major shakeup to Stoops’ coaching staff might be the jolt the program needs to contend in the SEC.
Entering season number nine in Lexington, Stoops addressed a handful of his new coaching additions with the Kentucky Kernel, including the offensive line and defensive backfield, two problem areas for the Wildcats.
“Eric is the perfect fit. I think everybody that spends any time around him will get a great feel for that, including our players.” said Stoops, when discussing arguably the most notable hire in the group, Eric Wolford. The offensive line coach was plucked from within the conference, having spent the previous four falls in the same role with the University of South Carolina.
Wolford — who also hails from Stoops’ hometown of Youngstown, OH — will be stepping in for John Schlarman, who passed away last fall. Stoops continued: “John was very hard on the players and very demanding, and Eric is much the same. They may be different in their personalities, but it’s the same way they built relationships with their players.”
Another perceived weakness for the Wildcats is the defensive backfield, which just added coach Chris Collins to the sideline. Collins had been with Georgia State since 2017 and made a good impression on Stoops: “Chris was somebody that I heard a lot of good things about, I didn’t really know him personally. Each time we talked to him I came out more and more impressed.”
The retooled coaching staff will be front and center when Kentucky opens the season at home versus Louisiana -Monroe on September 4th. Three months out, Stoops likes where the team stands: “I feel very good about the state of the program and where we’re going, that doesn’t mean we’re there yet, we’re certainly not, but we’re going to work extremely hard and we’re going to do it the right way.”