What are the issues Mark Stoops wants to resolve in fall camp? During his interview on KSR this morning, UK’s head coach mentioned two: the quarterback race and consistency. About that quarterback race…
“I’m very pleased with Patrick, I really am. I think he’s improved on areas he needs to improve on,” Stoops said. “I think it’s more of a compliment to Drew [Barker] and the work that he’s done and the talent that he has that it’s still a competition because I’m very pleased with Patrick.”
So it would be safe to say Patrick is the leader in the quarterback race right now? According to Stoops, yes.
“As I said, Patrick’s got the leg up, he’s got the experience, and I think he’s worked on every area he’s been weak in. I think Patrick is going to have a very good camp, but we need to come out of here completely confident and settled on the quarterback position.”
Stoops said the second thing he wants out of fall camp is consistency across the board.
“We cannot have those days where we just do not perform, because that carries over to Saturdays as well,” Stoops said. “We have to be consistent.”
Stoops said that the team’s improved maturity and depth will help with consistency, praising the inside linebacker and safety positions in particular. “I think you’re going to see a drastic improvement at inside linebacker with Josh Forrest and Ryan Flannigan. Those guys, I’m really excited about, and a year ago, I wasn’t,” Stoops said. “We’re much better at safety than we’ve been here, we’re much deeper. Now that’s a position I feel good about. I feel good about three-deep at each spot at safety, that’s never been the case here.”
Obviously, replacing Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith won’t be easy, but Stoops feels confident in several guys that have stepped up this summer, singling out Forrest, Flannigan, Farrington Huguenin, and Melvin Lewis as leaders in the locker room.
“I’m very impressed with Farrington and the way he’s taken on that leadership role. He’s just a solid kid that’s a hard worker, he’s played some very good football for us,” Stoops said of the senior from South Carolina. “He’s a guy that’s all in. He’s a guy that helps mentor younger players, he works hard, so I’m excited for him being a senior and saying ‘hey, take over a little bit.'”
“Josh is a guy that finally really started doing things right in his life, and it’s been noticeable off the field,” Stoops said of Forrest, a senior from Paducah. “Josh is one of those guys that the light came on and he started buying into everything we’re doing. He started eating better, sleeping better, he’s put on all this weight. And then you can be a leader. And then when you’re in the middle of that defense calling plays in the huddle, the guys respond to him.”
Listen to Stoops’ entire interview below. It starts about halfway through the second hour: