We’ve already brought you the major points from Mark Stoops’ press conference earlier today (Smoke out, offense good, defense bad), but if you’re the type of person who likes to read all of the quotes, this is the post for you. Enjoy the full transcript below, along with the video.
“Going back and looking at the Ole Miss tape, certainly there are a lot of good things to build on. Offensively, I thought we played extremely well, really did some good things. Very efficient. Moved the football. I was very pleased with Terry Wilson. I thought he really bounced back. We challenged him after the opener and he came back in the second game and played really well. He rushed for 147 (pre-sack) yards and we put that on him. We wanted to put some pressure on the defense with our Q-run (quarterback run) game. That adds a lot of pressure on the defense and you could see how effective we were at running the football. Also, throwing the ball he was very effective, 14-of-18 for 151 yards, really with just two complete drops or he’s going to throw for 200 yards and rush for 147 and could have been more in the pass game easily. We were just having so much success in the run game and also we were struggling so much defensively that when we were getting ready to throw the ball we felt like there were some plays there for sure. We just kept getting chunks with the run game and it obviously helped us with getting the defense some rest for a bit because there were parts of that game where we were just really out of sorts defensively.
“Defensively, we just didn’t play well enough. Period. We need to put our players in better position. We need to coach better, need to play better. That team puts extreme pressure on you with how fast they go. It is extremely, extremely fast and there were times in that game when we played so many plays very well and then there are plays where they are going to make you pay. They’re going to get chunks and they did. We’ve been good at not giving up explosive plays and gave up way too many explosive plays in that game to be successful. Really, that’s the tale of the game. Offensively, we played good enough to win.
“If you look at our (offensive) possessions, our drives, any time they stopped us there was one play where we hurt ourselves, one individual on our team hurt us. Those are things we can get corrected. That’s football. That happens.
“If you look at our defense, we had to defend quite a few possessions because of how fast they are. If you look at the first half they had seven possessions and we held them to two touchdowns. You could live with that, as good as you’re playing on offense and how explosive they are on offense. But the second half, not good enough. For them to score four TDs on six possessions, you’re not going to win many football games that way. We’ve got to come up with a stop. I felt like we were in a position to win a shootout and we missed the extra point. We were completely rolling offensively at that time and you like your chances in overtime but that didn’t happen. Credit Ole Miss, they fought their way back from a 14-point deficit. I could point to maybe three plays in the game that if we make, we win. Everybody can say that, but it’s a matter of getting it done. We’ve got to get back to work, every week whether you win or lose, and hit that reset button.
“Really kind of excited to get back at it. It was a miserable defeat and feeling Saturday but extremely motivated on Sunday and Monday because you know you got another great challenge ahead of you. It re-invigorates you and gets your juices going because it’s going to be a challenge.
“You look at Mississippi State and (coach) Mike Leach, I’ve known Mike for a long time and how good of a coach he is. I know he’ll have his group fired up and ready to go after playing so, so good in the first game and not playing to the level of their expectation, I’m sure, this past game. I’m sure he’ll have them ready to go. He’s a lot to handle. He’s going to do what he does. I like the way that team plays, they’re playing extremely hard on defense, and you know what Mike can do offensively, he’s as good as you get, very creative. It puts a lot of pressure on you as well.”
On the relationship between Terry Wilson and Josh Ali on the field…
“I think they both have been working really well together, they both have been working really hard. I think in the first game we had another explosive play (with Josh), we had a shot down the field, possibly a touchdown and definitely a big play, if we just get a fraction more protection. In both games it (the protection) came from our tight end position with the way we were protecting it. We have to fundamentally hold up and protect, I’m talking a half-second, or a second, we get that block cleaned up and we’re going to strike Josh down the field with a huge play. We’ve been off on that just fractions. I think there’s some big plays waiting for them out there. They’re both playing well. Josh made two or three really difficult catches. That’s what good wideouts have to do. Terry threw the ball up in a spot and Josh made a couple nice catches and that’s how we’re going to continue to elevate the passing game and get more and more confidence. I felt like we could have most definitely thrown the ball more efficiently and for more yards (vs. Ole Miss) but we were doing the things necessary to put us in position to win and the run game was so effective and getting so many explosive plays out of it. In a game like that, playing such an explosive offense, if we’re not playing good enough defense, we can’t get behind the chains because the time matters, the yards matter and obviously points matter. We did score 41 points, and (if) we get the extra point, I’m quite certain we’re going to get some more.”
On the team’s pass defense mistakes …
“There was a variety of things. We got beat one-on-one. We got beat in another jump ball tough matchup with a PI (pass interference) that was critical late in the game. I thought there was three PIs that I am not questioning the call, but I’m just saying they were bang-bang plays. Our defenders are challenging talented wide receivers and I am OK with that, we have to make plays on the ball. It was very hard, they had a lot of stress on them. Then there were times when we just flat out did not compete well enough. That is not good enough. I feel like we had some guys in there and we have to find the right mixture. We had some guys that set a couple things free that we do not normally do with access and guys running down the field with deception, the tempo of the game and how they operate and stress you from sideline to sideline, they’re a little bit unique. Even from this week, as much pressure as Mike puts on you and the way they are so effective throwing the ball, it is different than this past week. That group is a bit unique with their style.”
On having experienced adversity and how much it can help …
“It better. We need it to. I anticipate they will. I am excited to get in our team meeting here in a little bit and get on with it , face the reality of our situation. Nobody is going to point fingers. It is all about watching some plays and watching some film and walking away from that session with an understanding that you know we can fix some of these things and you know we can play better. Build on the good things that we are doing and get some things fixed. I feel confident that we will but you never know. Each year, each team has a new identity and, so this group has to step up and I am certainly going to lean on the leadership on this group and everybody is going to have to look at themselves. When you fall to 0-2, you can respond with a reality check of the situation of ‘it is what it is’ and you can fold to the pressure or you can rise above it, man-up and own it and move on.”
On weighing giving guys reps versus sticking with the ones you know you can depend on …
“Yeah, it is a tough call because every possession and every play in these SEC games is so critical. It is tough. Through two games we are getting a better understanding. There are some cases where you feel like athletically some guys can help you but mentally they are hurting you. There is that combination, you just have to find the right mixture. We have some options, but we have to find the right mix. We all have to do a better job of putting them in position and everybody owning their area of expertise and play better. I believe we will. It has been a long time since we have given up 42 points. Now, the league is changing. I feel like we are giving up a complete boatload of yards that I am not comfortable with but you look down there and we are sitting sixth in the league (in total defense). You know that statistics don’t mean anything other than winning and losing but the league is changing a little bit. You look at what we were facing in Ole Miss and look at what we are facing this week with Mike, there are some teams that are extremely talented and moving the ball. Look at our offense. We sat there and had 560 yards this past week and rushed for 408 and again, we could have thrown it for more. We were scratching where it itches, if you know what I mean. The run game was working and we had to stay with it and it was giving us an opportunity on both sides. You look at certain possessions and you know it drives us crazy because you have the AJ (Rose) play, which was inexcusable. You had a dropped TD on another possession but we had that possession at 2nd and 2. We make a wrong read and a wrong block on 2nd and 2 and lose yards that put us in that 3rd and 8 or else we are not behind that chain. We are still pounding and had a chance to gut them on 2nd and 2 but we lose five yards and then we throw incomplete on third and miss the field goal. That puts us up 10 or if you get the touchdown you are up 14 in the second half. Then the third down, you get the sack on another possession that I’ll take that. We are on the 35 and we miss the twist, I will take that. It is aggressive play, but in hindsight again, what do you do? You are on the 35-yard line and I did not feel good about kicking it (a field goal) into the wind and hindsight you punt it there and trying to pin them. I got a great punter, have to take advantage of that. Then another possession in the second half, we do throw the ball and we get a hold (penalty) on the perimeter or we are off and running on that play. So, again, we scored a lot of points and moved the ball but there are possessions out there we left more points off the board. Those are things we have to concentrate, but I am pleased and feel like there’s some things to build on offensively. Defensively, we have to get some things fixed this week.”
On if Stoops feels like he was good amount of tape on Mississippi State opponents and the challenge for preparing for this team..
“It’s most definitely a challenge. Just like a previous question you were asking us about SEC play and the margin for error for most of us is small and not playing teams outside our league that we feel like are obviously some better matchups but there is a great example of it. There’s an Arkansas team you see that Sam’s (Pittman) doing a great job, and showing signs but had lost 20 SEC games and (Mississippi State) do that to LSU the week before. I think that’s a great example of how good Mike is and how much better his team will get throughout the year, and throughout the years, in their efficiency. With Arkansas they played a boatload of zones (on defense) and all that, well that’s different in that system. Mike is so precise, and the receivers got to get a feel for that, of finding the green grass and finding the spots and doing it. Obviously weren’t as sharp as they were against LSU where it was a little more man (coverage) but even in the zone they played faster. So I know Mike will be challenging them and getting them to play to their level, so much like us their backs will be against the wall and coming out swinging and trying to play. I think that’s what you can attribute it to and his style is of them getting some reps under their belt of what he’s looking for in zone coverage and what he’s looking for in man coverage and their ability to read it and execute it quickly. If you know anything about Mike, he’ll get them on track quick.”
On if Terry (Wilson) feels more patient and calculated on runs…
“Without a doubt. According to our receiver coach it was three drops. One of them was an unbelievable throw that would have been a great catch on the sideline but I really consider two flat drops, and so he could have been 16 of 18. If you make a great catch (on the sideline) he could have been 17 of 18. If you like at the runs and decision making, you just mentioned, it makes me think of the play that got called back, how long was that run that he got called back, that would be another 20-yard run on a pass play. That was a very good decision, wasn’t like he pulled it down quickly, didn’t go through his progression. It was there, they lost contain, certainty contributed that we did give him a slight hold but you know he made a good decision there, that took off another 20-yard run that he had, maybe more. He did make good decisions. He went through his progressions. I thought he was very efficient in the passing game, again one play in particular, just giving him a touch more protection, we got a chance at a real explosive pass play. I thought he did a really good job. I had a lot of confidence in throwing the ball Saturday with efficiency. Again, I appreciate him and the team doing things necessary with how explosive they were playing offensively and we were having success in the run game, we had to stay with it. When you rush for 408, you have to be an idiot to deviate from that.”
On Terry Wilson’s speed, burst and confidence given everything he went through with his knee injury…
“I saw it to some degree on the perimeter-type stuff. In the first game, because of the scheme, we didn’t ask him to hit it straight downhill, with some of the read game that we did with Lynn (Bowden). This week, we did. We ran straight powerplay with him several times, he hit it, and he hit it good, and that I was impressed with. That, we challenged him with, and that we have to have out of him. That is one of his skill sets, he is a dynamic runner. He is getting stronger, that leg is completely healed, and I appreciate the fact he went in there and stuck his nose in there. Yes, he got yards on scrambles and bought time to look down the field. I always felt like he had a good feel for that. In some of the designed Q-run game, I thought he took a big step forward, and that’s good to see and that can put some pressure on defenses.”
On Kavosiey Smoke and Bryce Oliver …
“Bryce should be back out there, I think he is on the depth chart. Bryce has been close, this last week he traveled with us, so hopefully Bryce will be out there this week. We feel like he will. Kavosiey will not be able to play this week. He will be out a couple weeks, he got horse-collar tackled and broke his ribs. He broke a rib or cartilage in his ribs, it’s a pretty painful injury. It just depends on how long he will be out; we will see how the pain goes.”
On making plays being the most important part of defense and how encouraging the drive in the last quarter was…
“That was good. I did appreciate things, I’m not going to lie. If we had to score with four minutes left in the game, then score. In hindsight I wish they did, but two minutes was an eternity for them. That was a big stop. Unfortunately for us, their punter drilled a kick and pinned us back there and didn’t give us the opportunity. I would have certainly liked to try to win it in regulation, but that wasn’t the right time, as backed up as we were and with the time that was left. That was a good stop, it really was, and was much needed. At that point, I think you all watched the game and the way it was going, and the way we were, just holding on a bit in the second half defensively. Getting into overtime gave us a great opportunity. When we were ahead of the chains and in good field position, the way our offensive was running and rolling, you feel like you have a good opportunity.”
On having control of turnovers…?
“To me the fumbles are inexcusable, those you can control. That’s a technique issue and you have to protect the football. Interceptions are sometimes going to happen. If you look at Mississippi State and Mike and how efficient they are in passing efficiency, they are incredible, throw the heck out of the ball. But you can get a tip, you have a receiver running the wrong route, you can get a great defensive play. Things happen, some interceptions are going to happen. Some of them are not excusable, we know that but sometimes things happen. The ball bounces funny, a D-lineman gets a finger on it, a funny tip, pressure, you name it. But offensively we have to stress protecting it on fumbles and Terry (Wilson) obviously has to make good decisions. The disappointing part really comes from the defensive side of the ball, that we aren’t getting turnovers. And that is concerning to me and it’s not good enough. Seems like both games the football’s floating around down there and they did a nice job scooping it up. But we have to create it, create some turnovers, sometimes the ball has to bounce your way. Other times you have to create it. If I’m not mistaken, again you guys probably know, it was some statistic like this. One year we were absolutely horrendous on defense. One of my first couple years here, couldn’t force a turnover but somehow we led the country in recovered fumbles. So, how do you describe that? It’s not like we were hitting them so hard the ball was popping out. It’s just the ball bounced our way that year.”
?On running the ball and being one dimensional…
“That’s a fair question. This is an odd time to make that argument considering the 408 yards and how good we played offensively in this last game. But if you’re asking me big picture, yes, I want to be better and I want to be more efficient throwing the football, absolutely. I think that’s a fair question and I think we’re worked hard at it. But again, I think you know I’m going to be judged on wins and losses. And so, you have to give our program the best opportunity to win games and if it’s Saturday where we needed to possess the ball a little bit, and rush for 400 yards and have balance then that’s what we have to do. But again, that’s a tough argument when you could sit there and say, execute a little better on a couple pass plays and he throws for 200 and rushes for 150, darn near. I don’t think anyone would argue with that out of your quarterback.”
?On the defensive lineman playing more minutes — going with seniority, how fast the other team was playing, etc.? …?
“A little bit of all the above there. Josh (Paschal) can handle it and he can play for a lot of snaps. And Quinton (Bohanna), you are talking about two older guys that have been around, they have worked themselves into shape. Part of it is how fast they (Ole Miss) were going; you can’t substitute depending how long the drives are and what possession they are in and how many snaps are in that possession. So unfortunately, in that game they had I believe at least three quick scoring drives. So, depending what that rotation is that affects it a bit. But Josh (Paschal) plays more but he’s playing so good and fast for that many plays. He’s been very disruptive and playing very well. And Q (Bohanna) can handle it as well, with that kind of pace and tempo, the maturity of Quinton, to get lined up and getting a call and executing was important.”