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Four Things we Learned from Mark Stoops’ Pre-Governor’s Cup Press Conference

1. What’s Changed with Terry?

I can see it. You can see it. Terry Wilson looked different on Saturday.

The UK quarterback completed 10-of-14 passes against Middle Tennessee State, including an incredible touchdown throw over three defenders to C.J. Conrad.  Stoops sees Wilson playing with more confidence than ever.

“He’s just been more efficient and the completion percentage is up because he’s decisive with where he’s going with the ball and when, and making quicker decisions,” Stoops said.  He believes the problems started after early-season mistakes.

“I think early in the year, he ad-libbed a little bit and it bit him and he got a little bit conservative. As he gets comfortable and sees the field and makes good decisions…let him be him and let him have confidence to make some plays.”

2. Stoops’ Family Grows

Mark Stoops tried not to think about Senior Day too much during last week’s practice.  He did not really address the issue to his team.  They chided him for being too emotional, ‘What, are you gonna cry?’  Stoops probably would have if he reflected upon it too much.

They’re like my kids now,” he said. “This group definitely is special because every one of them, if you look at that group top to bottom, they’ve all contributed.  All 16 guys we recognized Saturday were significant for not only this year, but for years. We really have a lot of respect for them and appreciate what they’ve done.”

3. Kinnard Coming Along

As Stoops sent off 16 seniors, he saw progress from a rising freshman.  Offensive tackle Darian Kinnard is just the second offensive lineman in the Stoops era who has not taken a redshirt year.  On Saturday he received some of his first reps at left tackle.

“Darian did a really good job. I was very pleased with Darian. We’re excited about him. He’s versatile. He can play a lot of different positions. We were unsure if he could play left, and he really did well. He did a good job.  Darian is doing well, and overall the offensive line played good. I thought we got back to being very physical.”

4. Middle Didn’t Hold Back

Kentucky prepared well for MTSU, but the Blue Raiders brought plenty of tricks.

“Coach Stockstill and Tony Franklin both being from Kentucky, they unloaded a playbook on us,” he laughed.  “There was some unique stuff for us in there. Seven lineman on one side?”

Deception hurt UK frequently, but it also gave the Cats a Pick Six.

See everything Stoops had to say at today’s press conference below.

Opening Statement…

“I’ll start by thanking Kroger. I appreciate you and what you do for our school, our community and this rivalry. Looking forward to a big game here this week. Proud of our team and the way we played this past week. Looking forward to another week here this week, trying to finish it off.”

(editor’s note: representatives from Kroger were there to present the annual $10,000 check to the University of Kentucky in honor of the Governor’s Cup, which was created by Kroger in 1994 to recognize the renewal of the UK vs. Louisville football rivalry)

On if there is any difference preparing for Louisville with a different coach than they have had for most of the season…

“Not really. They did what they did this past week. Obviously, play caller is different. They still stuck with their offense.”

On if he will do anything different this week to keep his team mentally focused…

“No. In a rivalry game you can throw the records out the window. We’re worried about ourselves and playing the best football we can and just finishing. I felt like our team played with a sense of urgency this past week that we’re striving for. I really like the way we got out of the gates and started fast and really played with a great sense of urgency. We’re looking to do the same thing here this week. It’s about us and the way we play. We know what they are capable of and how Louisville can play and they’ve shown signs of that this year.”

On how the team keeps the emotions in check for a rivalry game…

“Well, we need to make sure we do that. It is easy to think about that with the seniors, it was hard for me. But, as I told them last week I didn’t really want to address it because I had my eyes on this week and finishing out. That was very important to me because if I did stop they were teasing me cause they said, ‘Coach are you gonna get all sappy and cry on us?’ I had to play it off because if I really thought about it I could because those guys mean that much to me. They are a special group, but I really didn’t want to get swept up with it last week with again knowing we had a big week here this week. It is a lot going on with Thanksgiving and we do appreciate these seniors and Josh (Paschal) coming back and playing, and a lot of good things happening. We just have to focus on being disciplined and doing the things that have put us in a position to be successful this year.”

On how hard is it for him to let this particular senior class go as opposed to those before…

“They’ve all been really good kids and fun to work with and we appreciate them all. I’m very close with some of the old ones. I can’t get them out, they’re like my kids now, just hanging around. This group definitely is special because every one of them, if you look at that group, top to bottom they’ve all contributed. All 16 guys we recognized Saturday were significant for not only this year, but for years. We really have a lot of respect for them and appreciate what they’ve done.”

On if he has coached another team that has had so many emotional moments, such as the ones this year with Josh (Paschal), John (Schlarman), Marco (Shemwell)…

“I can’t say I have been a part of anything as emotional as this. You can’t expect some of the things that have happened to us, happen. The only thing we’re here to do is support the people that are directly involved in any way we could. It’s never about us or me. It’s about them and their families and what they’re going through and any way we can support them. I’m proud of our team for rallying on a lot of different ways to many different people, and our team does a lot of good things and that’s what I appreciate about them.”

On how challenging it was for the players to come out how they did after the Tennessee game and pull it off…

“They (MTSU) presented a really good challenge with (Brent) Stockstill and Tony Franklin both being from Kentucky. Believe me, they unloaded a playbook on us (laughter). A ton of deception and just really a lot of plays that you can’t necessarily always prepare for. After viewing the tape I was very proud of our players, because we really were on point. The guys were very physical and competitive and really doing some good things. There’s always things we’ll do better, but I was kind of aggravated after the game with some long drives and I’m still aggravated. A lot of it was a lot of trick stuff. Overall, our guys handled it pretty well. We got the big pick six on trick play. They got some aggravating yards, but we had some big stops. I really like the mentality and the physicality of our team on both sides of the ball Saturday. It was a good victory.”

On if they looked at the MTSU games against Georgia and Vanderbilt to prepare…

“Yeah, of course we look at everything, in particular how he attacks power fives (teams from the Power 5 conferences), but there was some unique stuff for us in there as well.”

On if MTSU had shown what they did against UK in previous games …

“Not all that, no. Seven lineman to one side (laughter), no they didn’t show all that.”

On how did (Josh) Paschal play…

“He did a good job, he really did. As I mentioned after the game with playing him at the jack (outside linebacker) because we needed him, we were really thin. I was joking with him throughout the week, I said I wouldn’t have had you gain all that weight if I knew I was going to play you back at jack. He looked a little funny at that weight standing up on his feet, but he can do it. As you know he is really athletic. Just getting back playing football for Josh with the injury that he had, the lifting and some of the conditioning he can do, like in a pool and on a bike, but on his feet because the surgery was on the bottom of his foot. That is hard, and then you put a 280-pound man up there playing jack, playing in coverage and doing those things it’s not easy because you guys have heard me talk about that for a long time. Josh Allen makes it look easy at 260, but that’s uncommon. Josh (Paschal) did some good things and he’s be the first one to tell you as he gets on his feet he will get better and better with every opportunity, every practice. I noticed it last week between Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice, his comfort level.”

On how many reps did (Josh) Paschal play and if he will get more or less…

“I don’t know what he played. I want to say, I can’t remember exactly but I want to say in the neighborhood of 18 plays. Somewhere in there. We’ll just see how it goes. We’ll see how he is this week and what he can do to contribute. But, yeah, he will be in there playing.”

On if he will keep (Josh) Paschal at jack moving forward…

“Just for this season.”

On if it is Jordan Wright that is out and if he is coming back…

“Yeah, Jordan should be coming back here this week. He’s been a little bit iffy with a minor knee injury, but he should be back.”

On if Tymere Dubose will be back…

“Yes he will.”

On what he expects out of Louisville…

“Again, we’re worried about us. Louisville is going to do what they do on both sides of the ball. They’re not going to reinvent the wheel in the last week. They are gonna play the system that they play and they’re going to play hard. You see it in every game that they’ve played. They play hard and they play aggressive and some big plays or some trick plays and things like that have gotten out of their comfort zone as well. We’re just worried about us and our execution and playing a disciplined football game. They beat us last time here. I wasn’t very proud of that effort a year ago and we’re looking to just improve and we have a lot to play for. We got our eighth victory this past week and trying to play for nine. That’s our concentration on obviously preparing for them. Control the things we can control and that’s us and how we play.”

On if a coach being fired mid-season can light a fire under a team…

“Sure, I would think so. I don’t know, I mean I’m not there, but I’ve seen examples of that in the past, yes.”

On what will he do to make sure to get his team there with an edge, but not too much…

“I think that’s always a fine line and that’s where our guys have been around. They’ve been through this rivalry. Those 16 guys that I mentioned (seniors), they’ve been through it a few times and they’ve got to keep that in mind and play disciplined. We always have to play with that edge and that mentality and play physical, but we have to play disciplined football.”

On playing Louisville without Bobby Petrino as head coach …

“That doesn’t do me any good to comment on that. I always answer things; it is what it is. Hypotheticals, I can’t win in those situations.”

On the offensive line and Darian Kinnard’s play on Saturday …

“Darian did a really good job. I was very pleased with Darian. We’re excited about him. He’s versatile. He can play a lot of different positions. We were unsure if he could play left [tackle], and he really did. He did a good job, so Darian is doing well and overall the offensive line played good. I thought we got back to being very physical. They had a mentality about them. We gave up a few things here and there. They (MTSU) did a lot. They did a lot of different twists and pressures, and we knew that going into the game that there would be a bit of feast or famine in there. They created a few negative yardage plays in critical moments, to their credit, but our offensive line for the most part did a really good job of picking up a lot of their movements and stunts.”

On the difference in recruiting the city of Louisville compared to the rest of the state …

“I definitely think it is. It is. It’s year to year where all the players are in state, but it’s definitely different.”

On the biggest concern with playing Louisville …

“I can’t concern myself with Louisville other than preparing for the plays and preparing for their schemes, but I have to get my team right and our team right and that we have the right mentality and that they have a great week of preparation.”

On how Jordan Jones has progressed in the last year …

“As I’ve mentioned, it’s always week to week now. I always tell you, you’ve got every seven days to prove yourself around here, but Jordan’s the same way, so I have a few conversations with him weekly. I am very proud of him. I’ve mentioned it, but that wasn’t a very good moment for any of us, but we’ve all learned from it, and sometimes it’s a lot easier on me to just dismiss somebody. Everybody think that’s tough, and that’s discipline. No, that’s the easy thing to do. The hard thing to do is to continue to work with him every day and help him and not give up on him and not quit on him, so very pleased with his effort.”

On playing with an edge but not going overboard in a rivalry game …

“I think a big piece of that is emotion will only go so far. How emotional are we going to be on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday when we’re prepping for us and how we play? That’s where you can’t turn it on, on Saturday. You’ve got to have the edge and the attitude all week, and it’s the end of the year and our players are beat up and put a lot into it and all that, but they have to find that balance of the proper preparation. It helps with experienced teams. Sometimes younger guys, it’s too emotional, and that’s only going to carry you so far. We’ll talk a lot about that here this week throughout the week.”

On the Big Blue Nation traveling well this week …

“We’d love to see them. Absolutely. It seems like we have a great nucleus that’s with us at home or away, and we’d love to see those folks on the road as well.”

On Kroger’s partnership …

“Again, thank you to Kroger. I appreciate what you do. We have a great relationship with you. I personally get my coffee there (laughter). Thanks what you do for the rivalry and for the communities and for our state. I appreciate you all. Thank you.”

On becoming more efficient in the red zone …

“I think a lot of it is you can’t get behind the chains again, a play here, a play there. A big piece of it for us as you know is the physical piece of it. Obviously, Terry (Wilson) made a nice play adlibbing and scrambling and throwing it to CJ (Conrad) there, but a big piece of that is when we’re on track physically, that helps us in the red zone. Some of those games we weren’t, that’s when we were struggling in general. It still gets down to I think we netted 209 (rushing yards), but I want to say we rushed it when we were handing it off for 230, 240, and that’s going to be a successful day. It kind of correlates there.”

On where Terry Wilson has made the most improvement from start to now …

“He’s just been more efficient. The completion percentage is up because he’s decisive with where he’s going with the ball and when and making quicker decision with that, and we were on track in this game. We were able to be balanced. It wasn’t just him throwing the ball or just running it. We had some balance. We only had nine possessions. The aggravating piece of that is defensively didn’t give the offense enough opportunities. They had it for almost 34 minutes, I think, and too many long drives. So, when our offense only gets nine possessions, they scored on five of them. That’s where team football comes in. At one point when the game got close, the defense gave up a long drive, and the offense went three-and-out the next possession. That we can’t do. Nor, can the defense give up an 11-play drive for a touchdown.”

On if Wilson would have thrown that ball to Conrad a few games ago …

“I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I think early in the year he adlibbed a little bit and it bit him, so maybe he got a little bit conservative, but as he gets comfortable and sees the field, he’ll make good decisions and let him be him and let him have confidence to make some plays.”

On if Miles Butler kicking again was due to work in practice or saving Chance Poore’s redshirt …

“I had a little to do with both. It really did. Like I told you earlier, if Chance was just knocking it out of the park, then we would roll with him. Chance was struggling a little bit, and so Miles came in and did a really good job for us. As you know, hit a really critical kick for us late in that game with a lot of pressure on him. That says a lot about him on Senior Day. I had confidence in him because he’s been successful, but then earlier in the year when he struggled a little bit, we put in Chance and he did a good job. That’s the nice thing about a team. You have other guys to rely on, and each of them have stepped up a bit. We’ll see how it goes this week.”

On Josh Allen’s growth over the last few years and if there are any players coming up that could follow in his footsteps …

“Early on, I mentioned it, right away we knew we had a good player in Josh. Even at the weight he was at and how long he was and his versatility. Early on, we knew he was going to be a good player, and that’s when we reached out to his high school coach and just said ‘Thanks, Josh is going to be alright, he’s going to be good.’ (laughter) To this extent, I didn’t know that, but I knew he had a lot of potential, and you saw him getting better. Anybody who has that athletic ability and the work ethic and all the intangibles that he has. He’s really developed himself into the player that he is. He’s put in the work. I think our coaches gave him good medicine, but he’s taking it and really worked extremely hard. I appreciate him and what he’s done. With our team, there’s always examples of that. Whether they go on to be a first-round draft pick, I don’t know, but there’s definitely some good talent here in some of our younger guys. You can see a lot of those guys watching him and just guys that play with him every day just because of the linebacking position, but you look at DeAndre [Square] and Chris [Oats] and those guys are both very raw but very athletic guys and have good frames on them as well.”

On what kind of impact players like Josh Allen and C.J. Conrad have on younger players …

“That’s hard to say. I don’t know. I think in general all of them have made a great impact on this program and certainly on a lot of the players on our team. Who, individually, it would be really hard for me to say.”


Article written by Nick Roush

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

9 Comments for Four Things we Learned from Mark Stoops’ Pre-Governor’s Cup Press Conference

  1. nbarks88
    6:39 pm November 19, 2018 Permalink

    He also hit Josh Ali in triple coverage in the sideline. One of the best passes I have seen him make.

  2. jaws2
    6:59 pm November 19, 2018 Permalink

    I know this is obvious, but if Wilson could just make defenses honest, this team would be very tough to beat. Big time success for this team rests on his shoulders. It’s a lot for a first year guy in the SEC, but it would make a HUGE difference.
    Good luck Saturday Terry.

    • mashburnfan1
      9:42 pm November 19, 2018 Permalink

      Eddie Gran is the issue. To Eddie a deep pass is 7 yards. He prefers the 1 yard to the sideline or 3 yard crossing. Oh and the favorite wr screen, which works vs MTSU and Murray St. but not SEC teams. He still thinks he is at Cincy and in those easy Conf USA and AAC games.

    • unbridled
      12:18 am November 20, 2018 Permalink

      Eddie gran was no good at uc either…no matter what stats say. Please find his replacement.

  3. michaelb
    7:19 pm November 19, 2018 Permalink

    Where’s the FB podcast ?!

  4. BigolBlue
    8:21 pm November 19, 2018 Permalink

    Wouldnt be suprised if Louisville wins

  5. makeitstop
    7:10 am November 20, 2018 Permalink

    I hope I’m wrong but I think those dbs will be jumping our screen routes all night trying for a pick 6 and score on D. Terry’s only efficient pass is a screen and he takes so long in his delivery, holds the ball too low and too long on all passes but even “quick” hits like screens he locks on and has a tell, and they’ll be all over that in the UL film room. Remember these guys were supposed to be good bc there’s talent on the roster (like UT last year) so I am not counting a single chicken until the “old” Defense shows up and Terry and Gran show they can go past page 4 of the playbook. And two back-up QB give me PTSD but I think this D can pressure them into bad throws we can pick off if we can just eliminate the missed open field tackles that have popped up lately. I’d take 9-3 anyway we get it and get outta there like the dogs are chasing us.