I’ve already shared some stuff from Mark Stoops’ press conference with you today, but let’s go over some leftovers, shall we?
1. While at Florida State, DJ Eliot figured out how to beat Georgia Tech’s offense
The Yellow Jackets run a flex-bone option offense that’s known to give coaches headaches, but while at Florida State with Mark Stoops, DJ Eliot found a way to beat it, which Stoops said he hopes will happen again this year.
“So we did it together, and he did a lot of it. So he had spent some time with it, different places. We had been different places for many years. We worked together for a lot of years, but also he was in several jobs, so I can’t tell you exactly where it was or who it was. But he had some background in that, and we sat there and hashed out a game plan and figured it out. Fortunately we got a few stops because it’s not always easy.”
2. He’s hoping Darius West can come back for the bowl game
West went down with a patella tendon injury in his knee in practice during fall camp. Stoops said he hoped the sophomore safety could come back for the bowl game, but it doesn’t look promising.
“The guy I was hoping was Darius. I was hoping Darius would be back just for him to get some work. He was trying to. He had a little setback, nothing major, just like tendonitis and things like that that sets back some of the rehab, so he will be fine. But I don’t think ready to do much in this prep.”
3. The first postseason practice will be this weekend
UK gets 15 practices between now and the bowl on December 31, and Stoops said his team will hold their first one this weekend.
“We’ll get started this weekend coming up, and then we have to give them a little break for finals because our finals will be all throughout the day and they need some time to study. So we’ll practice this weekend.”
He said this month will basically be “another spring practice.”
“I think they can improve a good dose. We’ll have, not exactly sure, but we’ll have in the neighborhood of 15 practices, and that’s another spring practice. So, again, a portion of that will be about development, period. Just playing football and developing our team and a portion of that will be getting ready for the game.”
4. Someone asked a question about participation trophies and it was awkward
After UofL women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz went viral with his rant about participation trophies, one of the reporters at the presser couldn’t help but see if Stoops would take the bait, asking him what he would tell one of his sons if he came home with a participation trophy.
“Oh, wow, you’re trying to get me,” Stoops laughed. “They do come home with a participation trophy once in a while, and it goes on a shelf that nobody sees.”
5. Understatement of the season: Jordan Jones is a “live wire”
There’s no denying UK’s star linebacker is an incredible talent, but even Stoops admitted he’s a bit off his rocker.
“He’s one of those guys, he’s a live wire, but he’s been very consistent. He brings — one thing he brings every day that’s undeniable is he brings great energy. He brings that juice to practice every day and our players feed off it. So I love watching him. I love coaching him. He’s always got a smile. He’s always bouncing around, and he could practice all day, and that’s a good thing. That rubs off on a lot of people.”
6. Drew Barker will do what he can to participate in bowl preparation
Stoops said Barker will travel with the team to Jacksonville and do what he can to help out following his back surgery last month.
“He’ll travel and he’ll participate as best he can with meetings and helping Stephen and the other quarterbacks, so we’ll continue to work with him with rehab and things like that. But it will be business as usual for him. It’s been a tough time, but I know as I mentioned before, it was a successful surgery, he felt better immediately, and that’s a good thing. So with all that waiting and doing the best we can and trying to do it non-operative, but after talking with the doctors, they’re happy with the way things went.”
7. Priority #1 in recruiting: “Hold everybody we have”
As mentioned earlier, this is a big recruiting period for the staff as they continue to capitalize on momentum from the Louisville win and bowl bid.
“We’ve always got to hold everybody we have, number one. That’s always an issue, and nobody’s going to stop recruiting. So we’ll continue to try to hold everybody we have committed and continue to get some other positions. I think we need offensive linemen still, D-linemen, like to get a couple DBs and linebackers.”
Stoops said he’d like to finish with approximately 20 players in the 2017 class, maybe a little over. (Right now, he has 15 commitments.)
8. Get ready for contract extensions
When asked, Stoops said he’s prepared to do everything he can to keep his staff in place, especially amid rumors that Eddie Gran may be up for the Cincinnati job.
“We’ll talk about that with some of them immediately. This is the time of year where there’s always some interest and it happens, and we’ll continue to work hard at keeping this staff. I do feel very comfortable with this group. So I’d like to keep it intact as best we can.”