Mark Stoops spent around 30 minutes talking to reporters in his first Monday press conference in two weeks. If you’re like many hard-working Americans that don’t have 30 free minutes to watch the entire video, just read these 10 important quotes from Coach Stoops and move along.
1. Sawyer Smith “feels significantly better”
“He took a solid week off, and he needed that,” Stoops said of his injured quarterback. “The word I got from our trainer here this morning was that he feels significantly better. So that will be the plan. We’ll see.”
2. “We’ll proceed with Sawyer”
Stoops and the staff will proceed as if Smith will be the starting quarterback this Saturday, or at least that’s what we were told. Stoops said, “He’s banged up, you guys know that. You know the other options that we have been working and but we’ll proceed with Sawyer, and anticipate him being the starting quarterback and being able to play this week.”
3. Jordan Griffin “looks pretty close to a hundred percent”
Kentucky’s only experienced player in the secondary was very limited in the last two games due to an injury he suffered before the game at Mississippi State. It sounds like Griffin will be back this weekend in his regular role as the secondary’s leader. Stoops said, “He’s a guy that’s getting more and more comfortable, getting more and more confident, has been pretty steady. I think he’s a guy in this secondary that’s stepping up and been very reliable.”
4. “Phil is still not quite there”
Phil Hoskins needs a little more time before he can, finally, play in his first game of his senior season. Hoskins sat out the first two games as a suspension for academic issues, then injured himself warming up prior to kickoff of the Florida game. If he is unable to go this Saturday, it will be six absences for the defensive lineman.
5. On Lynn Bowden wanting the ball…
If you follow Lynn Bowden on social media, you’ve probably seen he hasn’t been shy about wanting the ball in his hands as Kentucky’s quarterback. Stoops was asked his thoughts on Bowden being so open about it, to which Stoops defended his star player by saying, “Any great player wants the game to go through him and the ball to go through him, so what better way than quarterback. You touch it every snap. So that doesn’t surprise me. Any playmaker wants the ball and wants the game to go through him.”
6. Arkansas is “very close to putting it all together”
Like everyone else, Stoops was impressed by what he saw in how Arkansas played No. 23 Texas A&M to the wire two weekends ago. He was able to watch some of that game live while waiting for UK’s kickoff at South Carolina, and has since seen it on film as part of his prep for the Razorbacks. Stoops said, “They played really well. They played good on both sides. I think you all know what type of team Texas A&M is. And Arkansas had every opportunity to win that game. So you know they are putting it together.”
7. Is it a make-or-break game?
“I’ll leave that to y’all,” Stoops responded to a question about the game being a “make or break” scenario. “I haven’t heard for awhile, because it was kind of comical to me, about how every game was a make or break for me. I was like, what game isn’t? You know what I mean? I think that’s all I heard for six years every week in here.
“So it’s, actually, I had to chuckle inside because every game’s important to us, and I don’t mean any disrespect by that answer. It’s just we, as coaches, I don’t care who we’re playing, what we’re doing, the way we lead up to a game, the way we prepare, all that is really most important to me. The results are the results. We all want to win, but things happen in games that you can’t predict. That’s why everybody loves watching it.”
8. UK’s secondary is “getting better,” learning from mistakes
Stoops sees improvement in UK’s secondary, but admits he isn’t surprised as the new crop of defensive backs gain experience with each game. There have been mistakes, he acknowledged, but no more than he expected. “Nothing that’s been a great surprise,” he said. “You know that mistakes are going to happen, you know that inexperience is going to pop up at times, you just have to have the ability to overcome that.”
9. On what he’s seen from the offensive and defensive lines…
“I think it’s been a lot like our team and been inconsistent,” Stoops said when asked about both sides of the line. “At times they have done some really good things. We have higher expectations on both groups and want more consistency out of them.”
10. “It’s a special week to remember Jared Lorenzen and we’re proud to honor him this week.”
Stoops did not have a close personal relationship with Jared Lorenzen, but he is excited and honored for his UK team to play for the former Wildcat QB, for whom Kentucky will pay tribute to on Saturday. “One of the most beloved and iconic players to ever play at the University of Kentucky,” Stoops said. “It will be an honor for us to recognize him and recognize his family this week. So just more incentive for us and for our team.”
He said he will show film of Lorenzen to the team throughout the week, among the many other things planned for Jared Lorenzen Day.