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Five Things We Learned From Mark Stoops’ Midseason Evaluation


Mark Stoops met with the media for the first time since Kentucky’s overtime loss at Texas A&M.  The film review gave him many reasons to be optimistic, even though it wasn’t enough to win at Kyle Field.

“I really was very encouraged by so many things in that game,” Stoops said.  “I really appreciate our players’ preparation, their work ethic, their fight and their desire to get that game won.  Obviously disappointed we didn’t come up with a few more plays.  We’ll work on that, but I love their effort.  It’s a good time for the bye week to get out here and continue to build on the things we’re doing and work on the areas we need improvement.”

While some players like Drake Jackson will use the bye week to get healthy, others will use it as an opportunity to get more playing time and improve on the positives from a 5-1 start.

1. The Good and the Bad from Terry Wilson

Through six games we’ve seen Terry Wilson at his best, like his gutsy performance at Florida.  Last weekend we saw him at his worst.  He has completed 67 percent of his passes and accrued six total touchdowns, while mitigating turnovers since the season-opener.

“He’s managed the game well.  In this last game well all know, and he knows, there’s things he could’ve done better and that was addressed. But he’s coachable, he’ll learn from that and he will get better from that alone and the experience.  I think just managing the game, putting us in a situation to win each and every game has been one of his strengths.”

There is still plenty of room for Wilson to grow.  His confidence seemed to wane in College Station.  Stoops wants him to get more comfortable with his offensive weapons.

“Obviously in the passing game and vision, just the timing of things needs to improve, and the confidence in the people around him needs to improve as well.”

2. Penalty Problems

Through the first four and a half games, the Cats kept their cool as others committed penalties.  In the last six quarters, UK has been flagged too often.  Against Texas A&M and South Carolina, Kentucky committed 19 penalties for 167 yards.

The situation affected us at times and that can’t happen if you wanna win consistently.  We have to address that and part of it is the aggressive fouls that sometimes are gonna happen.  But the pre-snap penalties of that nature we can’t have.”

The pre-snap penalties are unacceptable, but he doesn’t mind it if the flags are the result of aggressive play.

“Some of the best teams I’ve been on were highly penalized because of the aggressive nature of the team.  I’m not saying I want that, obviously you can’t have some of that, but we’ll continue to work through it.”

On the other end, it’s obvious to see how often Josh Allen is held, only for the officials to keep the flags in their pockets.  He can share his concerns with the SEC, but cannot share them publicly.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss what they tell me or I will be fined,” he said.

3. Welcome to the SEC, Chris Oats

Oats was spectacular in his first start.  The true freshman had four tackles, 1.5 for loss and a sack during the first half, but he did have a few freshmen moments.

“Chris is one of those guys, he’s got a great attitude,” said Stoops.  “He came off and he was telling one of the coaches, ‘That is a little more physical than I thought,’ and he’s a big physical guy.  We said, ‘Welcome.’

4. Searching for Wide Receivers

Production from the wide receivers has been sporadic.  Some of that falls on the quarterback’s shoulders, some on the coaches, but it’s also the wide receivers’ responsibility to get open.  This week he’s looking for playmakers to emerge.  One of those might be Ahmad Wagner.

“He is a guy that’s intriguing, that could step up as well,” Stoops said.  “He is a guy that you think about because we’ve been working with him and as we go good-against-good, he has that great size and he can go up over people at times and create that play that we’re looking for.

“If you look at Texas A&M going into that game, Clemson was in the same situation we were.  They just went up two different times and just simply went up over them and made great individual plays.  Otherwise they had the same problem with three-and-outs, and we know how good they are offensively.  We do got to look for options.”

Zy’Aire Hughes is another player that could see more opportunities.  His speed turned into a spectacular touchdown against Murray State.  Hughes’ speed could be used to help create more home run plays in the second half of the season.

5. Incredible Defense

Mark Stoops could not be more proud of his defense after their performance in College Station.  The best part?  There’s room to grow.

“I was really impressed.  Coming out of there I thought our guys played exceptionally well.  After watching the film I was very encouraged.  It was arguably one of the better games since I’ve been here, the way we played defensively.  And there’s still things we can do to get better.”

The difference with this defense is experience.  They’re seeing the ball well and anticipating the action before it happens.  Stoops is noticing it on the practice field and in the film room.

“They reiterate the messages sometimes before I get to it, which is a good thing.”

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

17 responses to “Five Things We Learned From Mark Stoops’ Midseason Evaluation”

  1. RondoTheDonThough

    Can’t wait until 2025 to revenge the loss to Texas A&M. But I’ll take the easy W from Arkansas next year.

  2. michaelb

    I don’t wanna hear nothing about the wide outs not playing good . They do t get the damn ball. During the Murray state game is only time we saw a glimpse of back to back successful passing plays . Hoak. Once again the tight end is forgotten about , this time the coaches lol. I wouldn’t be mad at cj Conrad if he announced a transfer .

    1. RondoTheDonThough

      Too late, now. He’s a senior. Still sad they can’t get him involved more.

    2. michaelb

      Yea he screwed up lol

    3. mashburnfan1

      Yep, and for Wilson and his confidence…well let him throw down field. Look at the numbers 13 completions for 108 yards and 54 of those were on basically a handoff. So other 12 completions for 50 yards or about 4.2 yards per completion. That is Gran and his sorry play calling, throwing more passes side to side then down the field. Two of those 12 were early to Conrad for about half that total so other 10 completions averaged 2.5 per, we probably lead the Nation in completed passes for 1 yard and loss of yardage.

    4. TonyMontana

      Conrad is definitely a stud and needs more looks. Don’t forget about Bowden. We have some legitimate weapons that need to get involved. Of course it also would help to hand the freaking ball to Snell. I wouldn’t mind seeing Snell & Bowden in an option package. So many possibilities there, especially with Bowden being able to take off or even throw the ball.

  3. CombatMedic_98

    Coach Stoops: GIVE GUNNER HOAK A FULL HALF AND LETS JUST SEE WHAT HE CAN DO… PLEASE?!!!!!!?

    1. JohnnyCheeseSticks

      Amen. But too bad Gran has his head in his ass.

    2. Parker_UKFanNC

      We gave him 2 drives against a not great central Michigan team and he had 2 3 and out’s. Get lost

    3. CombatMedic_98

      He scored in 55 sec. His stats are wayyy better than Terrified Terry…you need to get found son!

  4. cats646

    Off topic here, but Blake Bone just started snapchating my little sisters best friend out of nowhere ha! They are in high school and her friend said who’s Blake bone and showed my sister and she busted in my bedroom door screaming and yelling because THE Blake Bone was talking to them. She’s a true blue fan!! Ha!

  5. makeitstop

    We have seen Hoak make good reads and precise throws and spread it around successfully despite having only 7-8 drives. Wilson has yet to do that, and is getting worse not better. Stoops is incapable of pulling a guy who’s not performing. It’s not Gran’s play calls that are costing Wilson yards (it was that cost us a first down in OT) it’s Wilson’s inability to make the right read and settle for a safety outlet pass w no chance of moving the chains. That’s the most discouraging eval I’ve ever heard. “It’s cool if he can’t pass, he’s nice, tries hard and is Coachable.” That’s what he just told us. “No way will I yank him”

    1. CombatMedic_98

      Yes. 1000% true!

  6. makeitstop

    Btw get ready for turnover terry to return bc u can tell him to throw it down field but wrong read means wrong jersey if he does, and he will, bc he has. Hope we have good field position when he does… if he doesn’t get Hoak 1st team reps in practice it’s all a self fulfilling prophecy, he comes in has mixed results and Stoops and Gran say “see, no better” or “proud of him for stepping up but back to the bench.” Bc they had do be right in August. Disappointing. Team first applies to players not coaches I guess.

    1. cats646

      Wilson is better than Hoak.

    2. CombatMedic_98

      U r an IDIOT

    3. CombatMedic_98

      …and Kavanaugh was guilty because u said soo too RIGHT!? Get off here with your opinionated “faceless” statements.