A huge media crowd gathered today for Mark Stoops’ first weekly press conference at Commonwealth Stadium. With the influx of media that rarely attends, Stoops fielded many questions that have been answered before. Luckily you have me to wade through the BS to get to the meat and potatoes.
– WKU and UK are both in very similar situations, adding new coaching styles and personnel from last season. It adds some difficulty to scouting, but Coach Stoops has a good idea of how Petrino will coach the game “I don’t know him personally, (and) have never played against him, but just from watching him you can see that he’s a great play-caller, a very good offensive mind. Obviously he’s had a great deal of success.” Petrino is probably most well known for his ability to create big plays on offense, something that isn’t a fluke, “He does a nice job of taking his shots. He sets up his shots well and can get the ball downfield in big chunks.” The best way to counteract Petrino’s big play ability is by constantly changing the defense, running multiple packages to try and confuse the young QBs first game running Petrino’s complex system.
While extensively watching Petrino’s past is important to game-planning, examining the personnel returning from last year is just as essential, revealing a few threats the Cats will face this Saturday, “They’re deep in the secondary; they have a good experienced group coming back. They have an extremely talented middle linebacker who makes a lot of tackles…I’m sure they’ll lean heavily on their running back. He’s a fantastic player-Antonio Andrews- just a great player; he’s somebody we’ll have to keep an eye on.”
– The first game as a head football coach can impose some emotional distractions. Coach Stoops may not sleep a lot this week, but rest assured he’ll be ‘in the zone’ once the game begins, “I think maybe briefly or at the beginning of the game. Certainly I’m human, and it’ll be exciting for me. It will mean something to me, but then it’s right back to the task at hand and getting the team ready to win.”
– Ryan Lemond has been the biggest advocate of putting WKU in their place right from the get go, emphasizing the importance of starting the Mark Stoops Era on the right foot. While most coaches may not want to put the pressure on themselves, Stoops agrees with Ryan’s point of view, “I’m not shying away from that question, I think this game is very important. There’s a lot of excitement around our program right now around the state and nationally, so it’s time for us to go out there and prove what we’re all about.”
– There are certainly a lot of question marks surrounding the team entering the season, but Coach Stoops has a good idea of what his team will look like when they take the field for the first time, “I want us to be exciting and make plays. We have an exciting brand of offense and an exciting defense. But I want us to play within ourselves also, and have a bunch of guys on the same page. It’s very difficult to win when 9 or 10 guys are doing the right things and 1 or 2 are not. Everybody needs to be on the same page and playing together as a team, and that energy needs to carry over to all phases of the game.”
– Regarding the QB situation that people can’t stop talking about, Coach Stoops isn’t going to talk about it much at all. The staff has made their decision who will be starting and he will be informing the QBs sometime this week, but the #BBN will not know until the ball is snapped for the first time Saturday night.
– With school starting and a game in an NFL stadium, there are a lot of distractions that can get player’s minds off the task at hand. To add to that, it’s easy to let emotions take over when seeking revenge for a bad loss last year. Avery Williamson has that game in the back of his mind, but at the forefront is the amount of preparation they’ve put into this game, “There’s a little bit, but I’m not really focused on that (last year’s game). Really just focusing on the game-plan and what we have ahead. I’m really trying to not focus on that at all.” Stoops shares the same sentiment, “all of that’s going to go out the window, it’s about preparation.”
Boone’s Butcher Shop Injury Report
Coach Stoops has been pretty lenient so far, giving the media updates daily on who has been able to participate in practice or not. That won’t be the case this week. Stoops plans on keeping the status of injured players a mystery until game-time arrives. The biggest mystery will be who will start at the CB position. Cody Quinn hasn’t practiced in a couple of weeks because of injury, but was still listed as #1 on the depth chart. If he can’t go it’ll be up to either the true freshman Jaleel Hytchye, or JUCO transfer Nate Willis who is still working to get into playing shape after missing summer workouts and the beginning of fall camp.
– You can check out a full transcript of Stoops’ first press conference and videos with individual player interviews on the football page shortly. @RoushKSR