The Kentucky Wildcats closed the book on their 2015 spring practice season with Wednesday morning’s practice in Lexington. This was the third spring of Mark Stoops’ tenure at Kentucky, and according to the head coach himself, it was his program’s best spring to date.

“It was good to wrap up spring. No major injuries. As I told the team afterward, it’s definitely the most consistent we’ve been for 15 practices. We weren’t perfect for all 15, but the guys were really out there trying to make a conscious effort to improve on the things we point out in the meetings,” Stoops told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We had great energy. Guys were really flying around this morning, having fun, competing, getting better the whole way through. Really pleased with the progress we’ve made. I feel like we have more depth. We have some good, young talent that we need to continue to work with. Overall very productive, very good spring.”

The head coach was asked to reflect on his first spring practice season as the head coach of the Cats, which took place in the spring of 2013. According to Stoops, the Wildcats are “significantly better” than they were at the end of his first spring, which was on the heels of an ugly 2-10 season in 2012.

“Significantly better right now after the last day of spring here in year three and the last day of spring year one. Significantly better. Yes,” Stoops said. “I think it’s hard to put into words exactly. I just think it starts mentally. They understand what we want from them. They enjoy practice all the way through. Like I said, the 15th day — all the way through they were enjoying themselves, concentrating on getting better. I think mentally we’re much stronger. Definitely feel like we’re developing them to be a winning football team.”

Stoops was asked which players he thought improved the most this spring, and he responded by naming both of the team’s scholarship quarterbacks — Patrick Towles and Drew Barker — as well as a pair of sophomore wideouts and a pair of returning starters at linebacker.

“I think that both quarterbacks made some big improvement, he said. “I really like what they’re doing. I think Garrett Johnson really took a big step. Blake Bone really had some big plays. Again today really had some flashes of catching the ball and making some impressive catches today. Josh Forrest I think is a guy that made some big improvement along with Ryan Flannigan. Those are positions that you know you need to improve on. I feel like they have. Again, as I’ve talked about a few times, I think through the middle of our defense with the nose guard, the backers and up through the nickels dimes and safeties I feel like we’re getting better. We need to continue to improve and get some depth outside at corner.”

When asked to elaborate on his quarterbacks, Stoops said he hopes his quarterbacks take accountability during the summer months while the team is apart.

“Just continue to do what they’re doing. Just continue to be good leaders, continue to improve and really focus. Quarterbacks need to keep everybody accountable in the summer,” Stoops told the Herald-Leader. “We’re not allowed to spend time with them. Certainly we’re not allowed to be around them when they have a football, so they have to do that on their own and the quarterbacks certainly have to take charge of when they’re throwing and making sure and keeping accountability and having guys there and making sure we’re getting good work in when they’re there because they need to improve throughout the summer the whole team.”

The head coach extended that message to the rest of his team, encouraging the players to take initiative this offseason in preparation for a pivotal season in the Bluegrass in 2015.

“We need to keep that momentum, keep that consistency going here with the last two and a half, three weeks of school and have a great summer — physically and mentally getting tougher, getting stronger, getting bigger. And if we do that, then we’ll be excited heading into fall,” he said.

And lastly, Stoops gave his initial review of new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who debuted with the UK offense this spring after being hired last December. The Cats’ third-year coach seemed thrilled with his new OC, and based on his remarks it seems the players feel the same.

“I knew we would be better this year, for sure, just with the personnel, and we should be heading into Year 3. So I was very pleased with what we were doing. I really like what we’re doing right now. I just think it was exactly what I was looking for and I just feel like we made a lot of strides and I like what we’re doing schematically. I think our players are really enjoying it, like I said, and in some ways maybe eliminated a little bit of thinking, a little bit of pressure off certain guys,” Stoops said. “So overall, I’ve been very pleased.”