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Everything Mark Stoops said the Monday after UK’s loss at Auburn

Brian Moriarty | UK Athletics

Brian Moriarty | UK Athletics

Monday afternoon Mark Stoops spoke with reporters via Zoom to look back at the loss at Auburn and prepare for Saturday’s home-opener at Kroger Field against Ole Miss. Below you’ll find the entire transcript. If you’d rather just watch the event unfold, this video will do the trick:


Opening Statement

“After reviewing the game film, it was much like I talked about after the game. We did a lot of good things but too many mistakes.  We can talk about it until you’re blue in the face but you can’t make critical errors in critical moments on the road in an SEC game, at home or on the road. Can’t make those kinds of mistakes and we did. We felt like the majority the first half we played a lot like we want to play. We had some balance (offensively), we were very physical, we controlled the line of scrimmage, played solid defense, not great, had some errors there as well. I think getting the ball in (the end zone) at the end of the first half, if we punch that in it’s a critical moment in the game, no question. 

“In the second half I felt like we certainly got out of rhythm, didn’t play the way we want to play. We had too many three-and-outs on offense. Defensively, we were giving up yards and they were controlling it more in the second half. We had a couple possessions that certainly swung the game once it was a two-point game and we made a couple turnovers, the game got out of reach quickly. We had our opportunities, I think that’s the good news. There’s a lot to build from, lot of good things but we need to clean up the mistakes. 

“As I mentioned to our team it doesn’t get any easier. When you’re playing a schedule like we’re playing this year we have to pick it up quick. We have to analyze ourselves and be very critical of ourselves early in the season because we didn’t have any game out of conference, or any game, spring game, things of that nature, to get moving. We play Ole Miss this week and they put up a whole boatload of yards and points against a quality Florida team, so we have to get things corrected quickly and move on. That’s what we plan on doing.”

On Ole Miss and style of play

“We have to adapt to any situation. We all understand the recipe we like to play with to give us best opportunity to win games but that’s certainly not foolproof. We have to adjust, have to adapt each and every week and do whatever is necessary to win football games. Certainly, starting this week it will be much different. Ole Miss plays extremely fast on offense. Their quarterback is playing at a very, very high level, (Matt) Corral, and can throw the ball all over the place. They have a very good scheme that spreads you out and puts a lot of pressure on you. They want to be balanced. Even though they threw the ball for almost 450 yards they still had balance, they still ran the ball quite a bit, and were efficient with those aggravating yards on the ground. They run a lot of plays and put a lot of pressure on you so we have to be able to control that and play with a greater sense of urgency with the tempo because we’re going to see an extremely high pace.  We saw some of that last week vs. Auburn and we were good at times (but) we were not good enough with our urgency and our tempo defense so we have to work on some of that this week.”

On rules regarding transfers inside the SEC

“I understand both points. The commissioner is correct. When we recruited these student-athletes to our institutions we knew the rule. But we also understood the landscape in college football is changing. It’s changing every day, it’s changing every year. I understand both sides. The commissioner was crystal clear on that and I agree with him. However, we are trying to get the rule changed. That’s above the head coach’s decision. It doesn’t matter what we think. We need to talk to our presidents and our presidents are voting on that and it’s my understanding we’ll have a decision relatively quickly on that. But that’s at the president level and they’ll make those decisions. So coaches can talk about it any way we want, but that’s not my style to play things out publicly, in the media. We’ve already put in our vote on what we want to do. I think the rule is going to change anyway and in six months you’re going to have the opportunity to transfer and go anywhere you want, one-time transfer, and I’m in support of that as well.” 

On whether the rule could change for this season

“I think there is a possibility of that, yes I do.”

On the play of receivers and tight ends

“Not good enough. Overall, not good enough. There were some good plays and I feel like there’s guys there that will step up, but I don’t want to put that all on them. We’re about to go into a team meeting and watch this film and everybody in the organization can get better and that group can as well, so I’m not going to put it all on them, that’s for sure, because they did some good things. I thought Josh (Ali) stood out and had nine catches. Akeem (Hayes) stepped up and had some good catches. There’s some signs in there. We missed Bryce (Oliver). He had a really strong fall camp and is a big, strong guy who can go a little bit, so we missed having Bryce. He’ll be day-to-day this week.”

On the play of the defensive front

“One guy stood out in particular, Josh Paschal. He really, really played at a high level. I mean, really good. The rest of the guys showed up at times, did some good things at times. Phil (Hoskins) showed a few flashes of doing some really good things, so did Quentin (Bohanna). But overall, we expect more. We were very close on some pressures a couple of times but I thought they did a really nice job and their QB did a really nice job stepping up in there and hanging in there and throwing the ball. After viewing the film you have to give a shout out to Bo Nix because he made a few throws under duress that were big-time throws, but we’re going to see that throughout the year and see it from Corral this week.  Matt, big-time arm talent, can throw the ball all over the place.  But Bo certainly made some big-time throws.”

On Auburn running a limited amount of plays and if that went against the defensive rotation plan …
“It did go against the plan in particular in the first half because we did control the game in the first half. Then the second half, we didn’t. We had way too many three-and-outs in the second half. If you count the fake punt, I want to say we had four or five three-and-outs and really five if you count that (fake punt) and that cannot happen. That is not going to bode well for us and not how we can play and win games in this league. We have to play complementary football and play good on all sides to have an opportunity to win. We cannot be heavy on one side or another. We have to be balanced across the board and we didn’t play good enough across the board in the second half.” 

On home field advantage in a limited fan capacity …
“Definitely, I agree with you. It felt like a lot more than 20,000 (at Auburn). I don’t know what was in there, but it felt like a lot more. Hopefully, we will have whatever we are able to have in there and those folks will create some noise. I think you can supplement that noise with the speaker system and with crowd noise I know that was a factor and I want to make sure our folks are doing that here as well. I forget what the heck they said, but you can put the decibel level up to a certain degree and leave that on throughout the game and I want to make sure we can have that as loud as we are allowed to have because we felt that in their stadium.”

On Kelvin Joseph’s performance …
“The penalty is inexcusable. I show our players a football IQ film every Monday and silly, selfish penalties are on there every week and usually it is at the expense of another team, but it will be on there at the expense of our team this week and we cannot have that. We will not play that way. But I will say this, he is a competitive son of a gun. I can work with Kelvin, that’s for sure. I thought he did some really good things in the game and he is competitive and plays (hard). He made some mistakes and is going to be rusty like a lot of guys. He hasn’t played in a long time with sitting out last year. So for his first competitive action in some time I thought he did some really good things. There was a lot of good things to build on. We will get the other things corrected, that is correctable and fixable. We will get that straightened out.” 

On Terry Wilson’s performance …
“Some good and some bad. Really, for the first time playing in live action, I thought he threw the ball well. You know, we had the crossing route open and we got some pressure and we need to do a better job of holding up in that pressure and giving him a fraction more and we have a big play to Josh Ali with the over route there and just missed it by six inches. Same with the long throw on Auburn’s sideline, he sees the corner coming off the post route and can make a play on the wheel and misses it by probably a yard at the most. There are a couple of big plays out there. Obviously, the turnovers, everybody sees. Those are very noticeable and we have to get that corrected. I believe we will. We will continue to work and continue to build on it.” 

On Terry’s fumble …
“There is no excuse for that fumble. The ball was loose, it actually hit his knee, they didn’t cause it. He was a little bit loose with it. It starts with following the design of the play. He should have followed the lead blocker then we have the opportunity to get the first down. I saw on the field during the game, what Terry saw, the defensive end had stunted into the B gap and he felt he could beat him to the sideline. Then he got indecisive with the run. There was a linebacker there after the d-end ripped into the B gap there and there was a little lane there and he has to try to outrun them or make a move and he got sloppy and got loose and you can’t run the ball that way.” 

On finding roles for the running backs and how to use them …
“Those guys are going to play just like we did. Every game, one of you are going to ask me a question and you know that is going to rotate just like it did last year. One game a guy is going to have a big game and the next game it is may be a different guy. I don’t know, maybe one of them will jump out ahead. But all three of them have some really good qualities and do some good things. We are not worried about it as much as I guess the media is on what their role is. Their role is to help their football team win by any means necessary. They all are doing some good things. I am sure each one of them wants more carries but I think each one of them has a good argument because they are all playing good football.” 

On Kenneth Horsey and Austin Dotson rotating at guard … 

“We feel comfortable with both of those two rotating. Horsey was injured during camp and it gave Austin some reps and he did a lot of good things with that and made the most of it. We feel we need to continue to play both of them and rotate some other guys. Coach Schlarman has done a really good job over the years of bringing guys along and we talked about that in our staff meeting yesterday that he will continue to rotate a few more bodies in there as well.” 

On the review at the goal line where UK was ruled down before crossing the goal line …

“I sent the film in and can never comment on what they tell me and I haven’t gotten that back yet. I will wait and hear what the official word is, but it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. Until something changes and somebody holds somebody accountable, we need to move on. What did it look like to me? It looked like he was a yard deep in the end zone.”

On whether he knows Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin personally, and what do you see as his streaks as a play caller

“Just a bit, I don’t know him personally too well but as a play caller and a coach he’s very good, very talented. He grew up around the game with his father Monte being a coach, his whole life being around it. Lane’s been around it and is very talented. And different, you can see Lane adapting and changing. He’s a different coordinator now and they are a little bit different style, than the last time we crossed paths. But definitely puts a lot of stress on you.”

On COVID-19 potentially altering the season moving forward

“No, not at this point.  But we understand that, that situation is always fluid. But it felt like our people did an outstanding job of keeping us safe and keeping our social distance. Believe me it’s not fun but everybody is inconvenienced, and we will do the very best and adapt the very best we can. But there are some parts to it that are not fun, I want to get in front of that team today and everyone in there and look at them eye to eye and have a great team meeting like we do on Mondays, win or lose, and kind of reset the tone for the new week but with the way it is right now, that part of it stinks. But it is what it is, we’ll go and meet and try to get together in the indoor (facility), but we are spaced out all over the space. And it’s different but it’s different for everyone. So, we have to adapt and overcome like everyone else does.”


On the play where Auburn went for two at the beginning of the game and how that changes thinking during the game

“Of course, it was aggravating. We need to get that fixed on the defensive side of the ball. But you know that going into it, Auburn is always going to have quite a few tricks up their sleeve and deception plays. (It’s the) Same this week with Ole Miss on offense, and we’ll see how it plays out with special teams. But we knew that going into the game, it didn’t end up being a factor but it certainty could’ve.”


On the team improving between weeks one and two 

“I hope so, it better. You hear me talk about it every week, every coach does, you have to take the good and continue to build on the good things that you’ve done, and get the other things fixed as quick as you possibly can. One of the other coaches, I forget the exact quote, but basically just have to be the team that screws up the least because everyone’s going to screw up. Early in the year you have to be able to overcome it, when you’re a better football team you could overcome mess ups because everybody has them.  There is a lot going on out there early in the season when we haven’t played and haven’t had a spring game, things aren’t normal, it’s going to happen. You have to be able to overcome that, overcoming adversity is something you are going to see in each and every game and you’re certainly going to see it each and every year. We are all having to deal with issues right now, so we better make some adjustments and some improvement between week one and week two or its going to be the same result.”

On the offensive line and goal line play

“That was my call and again in hindsight I would do that differently. I felt like with the option of Terry on that play, could have the ability to run it and could have the option to throw it to the back in the flat. There was a mess up, our wide receiver on that play put that other DB in the area because the back was open. The design of the play was there, the back was open, Terry was throwing it to an open receiver and there was a body there that shouldn’t have been, based on a missed assignment by a wide receiver. So, I felt like worst scenario there, we get three (points). And we felt like we were doing some very good things in that half and I wanted to go up with a lead, so I felt like three points was the worst. If we run it there and get stuffed, you have to get off the field and get your field goal unit in there with no timeouts and kick the field goal. Which is do-able with 26 seconds and in hindsight that’s probably what I would have done, to be honest with you. I talked to the staff about it yesterday. So, we need to have that opportunity and I don’t disagree with you.”


On Terry Wilson’s confidence

“That hurts because everybody sees him throw the interception, but they don’t know the wide receiver who ran shouldn’t have been in the area. We brought another body to the party that shouldn’t have been there. But it does probably rattle his confidence a bit but there is a lot in that game for him to build on. He did throw very effective at times and again that goes to everybody. That goes to protection, just like the play I talked about earlier, we had an opportunity for another explosive play in the pass game that we missed by inches because we had a back that needs to do a better job at protection. Another critical play is on the second to the last drive of the first half, Terry goes through his progressions perfectly, hits the check down that’s open. We have second and two at the 22-yard line instead, we get a holding call, we get backed up and I believe we get another negative yardage play, maybe a sack and are forced to punt. But those are mistakes (that happened) when we were in pretty good control of the game. Up front, playing physical, playing the style we want to play, taking our shots. But there is that fine line and I’m just being truthful that’s where the fine line comes in. We have the ball at the 39-yard line, 40-yard line, whatever it was, maybe it was even closer because I want to say on the check down AJ (Rose) got it to the 22. But you know, do you continue to pound it there and play for three or try to take a shot and go to the endzone and have a big explosive play? Well, we tried to hit the explosive play and we got the hold (holding penalty), so we have to get better in those situations.”

Article written by Nick Roush

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

3 Comments for Everything Mark Stoops said the Monday after UK’s loss at Auburn

  1. WKY Cat
    6:14 pm September 28, 2020 Permalink

    I was excited about this team. I think the defense will still be fine this year. But I don’t think Terry has the skill set to get us wins. The next two teams will score points against us. Not sure if we can out score them.

  2. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    7:02 pm September 28, 2020 Permalink

    I was super excited as well and am now feeling pretty discouraged about the season. Next week can do a lot to get fans feeling positive again.

  3. RogerW
    12:33 am September 29, 2020 Permalink

    If Auburn is a legit top ten team, then UK will probably be okay. I am not convinced Auburn is as good as they are ranked. I sure hope to be proved wrong, but in my opinion, Wilson has not yet consistently played at an SEC level. Has a had some bright spots, but just as many negatives. Hope it was just rust and he goes on to have a great season.