"I think our goals are to compete for the league championship, get to the SEC championship game and have a chance to win this conference," said senior tight end Jacob Tamme. "People talk about specific games, and that's fine, and I want to beat these teams we haven't beaten in a while as much as anybody, but you can't take your mind off any game.
"If we bring our best game every weekend, if we come out 100 percent prepared every weekend, then we will get to realize our other goal of playing in the SEC championship game because we have a team that is capable of winning every game if we prepare from the first game to the 12th game the same way."
SEC championship? Don't laugh because seniors like Tamme, quarterback Andre Woodson, Woodyard, receiver Keenan Burton and running back Rafael Little - all preseason all-conference picks - believe it, and their enthusiasm has been contagious with their teammates.
"They never quit believing. It takes a Wesley Woodyard, Keenan Burton, Rafael Little, Andre Woodson or Jacob Tamme to make everybody else believe, and they have done that," Barnhart said. "The thing I am most pleased about is the group of seniors that have stayed the course and done all the things you could ask them to do on the field, but more importantly, off the field.
"They are the ones who said, 'Hang in there with us and we will get it turned around and make you proud.' They believed in (coach) Rich (Brooks) and that was enough for me, and they made it work."
Woodson, Burton and Tamme were part of Brooks' first recruiting class and are all in-state players with extra pride in the Kentucky program. When the team was on probation and not winning, they never quit believing the future would be better.
"It has been a long road and that is what makes it so much more sweet. We are all from Kentucky. We all know the history of Kentucky. I have been here in Kentucky for nine years now. When I got here I always wanted to come to Kentucky," Woodson said. "I know Tamme has grown up here and always wanted to come to Kentucky. Keenan has always enjoyed watching Kentucky.
"To know we have all been here in this local area and come here together and done something special together is a big-time thing. We have bonded and made friendships that will never end. You can't buy that kind of feeling or happiness."
Emotions in check
Barnhart still marvels at what the Wildcats did last year when he knows many fans were ready for him to make a coaching change.
"I tell them (the seniors) there have only been six victories for Kentucky football in postseason history and they did one of them coming off the worst probation in the history of the NCAA. On top of that, and I am not trying to put goals out there for them, but to get to postseason play again and win back-to-back bowl games for the first time in almost 60 years would be unbelievable," Barnhart said.
"Think about that. That is almost unbelievable if they can make that work. What a great legacy for these guys."
Barnhart says it is impossible for him to keep his emotions in check when he thinks about what UK's senior class has done for the football program.
"I am awfully happy for them. I hope the best for this group of seniors. They deserve the best. They came here in adverse situations with nobody really believing they could do anything special and they have done something special. They all deserve every bit of the success they have had," Barnhart said.
No argument here. Kentucky's seniors won on the field last year, but they have been classy on and off the field their entire careers.
Want historic season
Now they want to go out with a historic season, one UK fans will remember for years like the 10-1 mark from 1977.
They truly believe they can do it, too.
"This university has been known for not having many winning seasons. We were part of something special last year and finally brought home a bowl win," Woodson said. "We did something that a lot of players here have not done.
"Now I hope we can accomplish that again and get this university turned around to where it will start being known as a football university. That would really be something."