Kentucky Wildcats Football: Mark Stoops's Monday Press Conference

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Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stoops transcript courtesy of UKAA

COACH STOOPS: Just wrapping up the Florida game, after watching the film, I really did think we did some good things. I thought our players played extremely hard on both sides of the ball. The thing about that game is it went so quick, our offense only had seven possessions, and that goes to both sides; offense not getting first downs and defense letting them drive it too much, so limited possessions there.

But I thought we did keep them off balance, moved the ball pretty good. Defensively, I thought we did some good things as well. I felt like we were a little more stout in the run game. I was worried about that going into the game. Their primary play is the power and the counter and I thought our players played fairly well.
There were some things obviously we need to do better. They hit us on a long run, but outside of that long run we made them work for their yards and did some pretty good things, like I said, the overall fight was pretty good. We know there are a lot of things we need to get corrected.

With the quarterback situation we need to continue to evaluate that, both guys struggled at times Saturday, that had to do with a great Florida defense and us not executing but we will continue to look at that situation as we go forward.

Looking ahead to South Carolina. It’s going to be another great challenge, really looking forward to going down there, playing at South Carolina, we know it’s a real challenge. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Steve) Spurrier. I’ve known him for a long time, his son, Steve, Jr., so it will be a big challenge but we’re looking forward to it.

Q. Did you guys figure out what happened with Jojo (Kemp) …

COACH STOOPS: Yes, it was. The bottom line was we had 10 runs from the running back position. Part of that was schemed to get some runs on the perimeter, which I actually thought we had some good success, they’re well designed plays and we were getting the ball to the perimeter and getting some yards on that. I think when you go back and look at the film we certainly could have run the ball more with the running backs inside, because we actually had some decent success. When you have four yards and five yards against that defense that’s a successful running play.

And Jojo with the 10, 11‑yard run and so on, but we only had 50 snaps ‑‑ or 47 snaps. So with Jojo, some specialty plays, Raymond’s (Sanders) better. Some plays doesn’t matter which back is in, it could be a fake and then 10 running plays with the running backs, Jojo got three, Ray got five and Dyshawn (Mobley) got two. So I think we could all look at the film and wish we had 70 snaps but we didn’t. So I think that goes to a lot of things we need to do better, we need to coach better, we need to give ‘em the ball a little bit more. But I think for a variety of reasons it worked out that way.

Q. Coach, when you see a game like last Saturday, someone sitting at home might say, ‘We haven’t gotten better we just lost to Florida again.’ Do you see that incremental improvement every week that you are looking for?

COACH STOOPS: We did, we did some good things, we really did. I know I may set myself up for the shots or whatever, I can’t worry about all that, all I’m worried about is getting better every day. I thought our players did a good job, I really do. Our coaches did a good job after being very frustrated after the game and during the game.
I was ‑‑ just like everybody, I was frustrated. You go in Sunday and start nitpicking everything that we do and making sure that we’re doing everything we can to be successful. I thought we gave ourselves some chances, I really did. We need to do things better, we know that. Take the first drive, for instance, they take the ball and go 93 yards in almost, what, eight minutes or whatever it is, and that’s frustrating as a defensive guy.

The good news is, again, some of the base run plays that we need to improve on defending or you’re never going to be good, we improved. We had ‘em ‑‑ the one that crushes me is the third down, the third and long. They executed. We had been very good on third and long situations, and that was actually my fault. I called the pressure, and it was a complement off some other things we had been doing in the first three games, and it wasn’t good to empty, so it didn’t work out. That’s on me. Those are the ones that frustrate you.

So, again, you look at all those things ‑‑ the game goes fast with seven, eight possessions and that’s where we can’t afford to miss our opportunities, you know? Florida made the most of it, they scored, got ahead and kept control of the game that way. That’s the way it went.

Q. (Question regarding the offense scripting plays to start the game.)

COACH STOOPS: Yes, we scripted. We always script the opening of the game unless it’s third and short, and then he has options. But like Neal (Brown) said, we had been struggling on third and short so you see that with a lot of offenses in football right now, ‑‑ third and two is hard to get sometimes against that defense.

Q. South Carolina was down 10-0 at halftime and then they come out in the second half and try to grind it with (the running game) do you expect them to do a lot of the same thing Saturday?

COACH STOOPS: I do. I think they will change a little. I think Connor Shaw had a little more experience and you saw more of the gun, running game stuff with the quarterback run game. I think we will still see that, but I do expect them to be on their center a little bit more as well and run it. Like I said, I think if you just look at us as a program, you know, as a defensive guy, if you can’t stop power running teams in this league you got zero chance to win. So I think we’re making some improvement.
You have to, at the core of your team you have to be able to defend some of that stuff and we’re not there yet, but I think we’re getting better.

Q. Mark, early on you said something about the locker room being beaten down a little bit. Were you concerned at all about this stretch of games?

COACH STOOPS: Yes, I would be concerned about that. When I went up and put on the film Sunday I was pleased with the effort. I was pleased with the effort on offense and on defense and on special teams.

That’s a big part of it. You have to give it everything you got or, again, you have no chance. I felt like our players worked hard and fought hard. We’re by no means perfect, we know there are a lot of things we need to clean up and get better at. That was a good indication and, again, that’s what I told them after the game, I was looking forward to Monday, let’s get back to work on Monday and get better.

I believe that’s what we need to do and that’s what we need to focus on. Nobody likes to lose and go through tough stretches and y’all have been sitting here interviewing people for a long time and you probably heard all the same answers and all that, and it’s not fun for anybody involved, but for us it’s back to work.
I’m enjoying preparing this team and getting better in the process that we’re in right now. It’s a real challenge, but, you know, win or lose, it’s back to work and we’re on to South Carolina, and we’re going to give it the best chance we can to win.

Q. Mark, when you talk about quarterbacks, should we anticipate the same thing as we have seen in past weeks – switching it up?

COACH STOOPS: No, we would like to get to one, we really would. Last week was unique with Max being banged up, he missed the entire bye week, he threw the ball extremely well last week in practice, looked very good in ‑‑ so, you know, we’re in a little bit of a quandary right now, with what to do. I think we’re going to try to give it to one person, give him the reps and see what he can do. I think we need to do that. It has not been clear‑cut at this point, it would be reckless for us to name one guy at this point because nobody has taken the job and we’re going to evaluate it this week and see where we’re at.

Q. Is that the hope, though, that one of those guys steps up and takes ownership?

COACH STOOPS: Yes, yes, it is.


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