Well, that was an interesting interview. Mark Stoops just wrapped up his remarks on KSR, and let’s just say he was very passionate. At a critical juncture, Stoops said he’s doing everything he can to get the team in the position to beat Vandy.
“I’m not very happy with the way we’ve play the past couple of games, but that doesn’t mean the sky is falling either,” Stoops said, adding that he’s reached out to his coaching colleagues to get practice scripts to help prepare his guys for Saturday. Did he anticipate the team’s recent slide?
“We know, unfortunately, we’re not built as strong or as stout as you want to be,” Stoops said. “If you look at college football, there’s always going to be some ups and downs and teams that play good. It’s very rare that you play 12 complete football games. Not many teams do, if any. The key is if you’re good enough to overcome them when you play bad. We certainly are not that way. We cannot go into Georgia and not play well. We have to play lights out to go into Georgia to have a chance.”
Matt asked Stoops the question many of us have been asking this week. Has Kentucky improved at all this season?
“I think it’s absolutely a fair criticism to be frustrated and see that we’ve dipped. That’s fair. I’d be lying to say we improved the past two weeks, right? Have we improved? Overall, yes, some games, we’ve done some very good things. Overall, we’ve improved. Not the past couple of weeks.”
One of the most frustrating issues with the team right now is receivers dropping balls. Stoops said he believes the number of drops by his receivers is a mental thing, and telling of what’s going on with the team.
“Yes, I think think a lot of it is mental. I think a lot of it is the psyche of your team, the psyche of your players. And part of that is frustrating for me as it is for the entire Big Blue Nation is why we don’t play our best all the way. Do you think we’re as strong mentally as I want to be?”
We’ve heard rumors of a divide in the locker room, and when asked, Stoops said that’s a pretty common thing in college football and it doesn’t concern him.
“No, I wouldn’t say that,” Stoops said when asked if all of his players were on the same page. “Again, I’d say very few teams are all on the same page. To answer that honestly, no, I don’t think they’re all on the same page. Do I think it’s a major issue that way? No.”
What about the situation at quarterback? Stoops said he’s open to starting either Patrick Towles or Drew Barker.
“We have to make the best decision to go into Vanderbilt and win the game,” Stoops said. “Whoever gives us the best chance to go into Vandy and win will play.”
Then things got a little testy. Matt asked Stoops why it seemed like the team was sometimes disorganized, mentioning the 8-man punt formation and some strange play calls.
“Yes, I’m perfectly comfortable with the organization. I think I addressed that after the punt. I’ll take responsibility for that, who else will it fall on?” Stoops said, explaining the reason behind the decision. “You want to start crucifying me over that, go right ahead. That doesn’t determine a game. I understand, believe me. I’m a big boy. You lose a few games, and everybody starts — absolutely, we’re plenty organized. Believe me. That’s not the issue.”
When Matt said he wants Stoops to succeed and believe he’s the man for the job, Stoops interrupted him to give this plea.
“If that’s the case, then you rally the Big Blue Nation, get everybody on the same page. Quit hanging your head. It is what it is. I embrace the situation. It is what it is. It’s difficult. You think everybody can do this? Then come on and try. It’s very difficult. We will be fine. Nobody panic. Am I happy? No. Is the team happy? No. But nobody is hanging their heads. Nobody’s pointing fingers. We’ve gotta go win a football game and it’s fine. That’s it. We played Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Georgia. We lost the football games. Some games we played decent at times, sometimes we played pretty good, sometimes we came up on the wrong end. The only way to feel better is to go get a victory.”
Listen to the interview for yourself: