Kentucky Wildcats Football: Mark Stoops Monday Presser

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Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

COACH STOOPS: After going back and watching the Mississippi State game, I thought we did some very good things in that game, gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game. Felt like our players competed extremely hard. We need to be a smarter football team. We’re not very smart at times, and we need to execute in critical situations.

Looking forward to this week’s game, getting back on the horse and seeing what we can do against Alabama State, a team that’s very well balanced, won six games in a row, so we’ll have our hands full.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at the film on Alabama State? What maybe has stood out?

COACH STOOPS: I think they’re a very good football team, very well‑coached team. I think they’re really solid in all phases of the game. I think offensively they do a really nice job of trying to keep you off balance. They run the ball very well. But again, they’ve got great balance. I want to say they’re rushing for close to 260 and throwing for close to 220. So they have balance. They put some pressure on you with the quarterback run game and spread you out and got some good athletes, good scheme.
Defensively just very sound in what they do. Same with special teams.

Q. (Question regarding Alabama State’s Kourtney Berry standing out in film study.)

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, he did. Also the guy that jumps out at me as well is Isaiah Crowell, again, a guy that I know the name and known him for a long time. We recruited him quite hard during my time at Florida State. I remember him. He was a fantastic player, one of the top players in the country coming out of high school, fantastic player, just very hard runner, elusive. For his size and strength, he’s elusive. He’s coming up on 1,000 yards already I want to say, so yeah, very good player.
And as you know, there’s quite a few players that are of that talent playing on this team that signed Division I scholarships, and for one reason or another ended up there, so they’ve got some talented players.

Q. Could you talk about some of the mistakes at critical times? Do you see that as experience?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it’s a little bit redundant, isn’t it, too. I talk about that a lot, and it’s frustrating. Gets a little bit old talking about that. But we need to execute better and we need to play smarter. Those are things we can control. And that’s what’s so frustrating. Those are things that we’ve got to keep on working on. We’ve got to keep on getting better. We’ve got to make our players and hold our players accountable to what they do.
We’ll watch those critical mistakes as a team, not just an offense and not just a defense like we normally do, but the whole team will watch critical mistakes and plays that are not very smart. We need to play better.

Q. How would you assess your coaches in those critical situations?

COACH STOOPS: Well, there’s always things we could do better. I think coaches are very hard on ourselves, and as I’ve said before, I think nobody beats us up more than we do ourselves. We come in and analyze everything we’re doing, and of course there’s things we could do better. I said that right after the game, starting with myself.
But I am completely confident in the direction of where we’re going.

Q. The mistakes in critical situations, do you think the confidence of the players succeeding has anything to do with it?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I’m sure it does, and the fact that we’re losing games and have been a part of a losing culture does rub off on you, and that’s where we’ve got to do a better job and I’ve got to do a better job to get them to understand and believe that we can do better and there’s things we can control.
Like I said, I think we all see us resembling a good football team from time to time, but that’s not going to cut it and win you a lot of games in the SEC. You’ve got to be good top to bottom, and you’ve got to be good in critical situations, and most importantly when you’re under pressure situations, our habits, bad habits, come right to the surface.

Q. Has Jalen (Whitlow) improved enough where he will get significant reps in practice?

COACH STOOPS: He’d better. Yeah, he’s going. He’s got a dinged up shoulder; it’s fine. It’s an AC joint. He’ll be sore. He’ll be out there practicing today.

Q. There were a couple guys after the game who tweeted out optimism and how they feel they are really close. Would you say the majority of the locker room feels that way?

COACH STOOPS: I don’t know, I think I saw a group that was hurt after the game that they know ‑‑ the more you invest, the more it should hurt, and I think our team is starting to hurt. They’re starting to understand that we can do this. If we, again, just do some things better, control the things we can control, and execute in some critical situations. I think they see us ‑‑ again, they see us looking like an SEC football team at times. We’re just not consistent.


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