Labor Day is no off-day for Mark Stoops and the Kentucky football program. Coach Stoops and his team will meet to go over that ugly game film before looking ahead to Florida later in the week. But first he met with the media for his weekly football press conference.
Here’s some of what he said while you were out on the lake:
The team is much better offensively.
In Stoops opening comment of the day, he said, “It was a very disappointing loss and we know that, but there were a lot of good things in that film. We are a better football team offensively, we played very well.”
He blamed the scoreless second half on a lack of possessions, which comes down to the defense getting off the field, which it was unable to do.
Converting third downs was also an issue, he said.
He only saw one bad play out of Drew Barker.
After reviewing the tape, Stoops said he only saw one bad play out of his starting quarterback. It was the costly interception late in the third quarter when Kentucky was trying to regain the lead.
“That’s just not a good throw, not a good decision. That’s not how he will play. That’s not how he’s coached. And that was the only play he made a really bad decision and a bad choice and a bad throw.”
Other than that, Stoops saw good things from Barker at QB.
Some of the defenders did not play as well as they are of capable of playing.
He said, “I think there were some guys on defense that did not play as well as they can. And we know we have some inexperience there and some limitations at places, but we can play better than we did.”
Chris Westry and Derrick Baity are two of those players, although we’ve since learned Westry was a little under the weather.
He also noted that a couple of players played almost every down on the defensive side of the ball. Matt Elam played 70-80 plays and Courtney Love played all 95.
Jordan Jones played “exceptionally well.”
The sophomore linebacker was all over the place for his game-high 19 tackles in his first career start. Stoops said Jones only had two missed assignments in the game, a huge improvement from his play in the first scrimmage of fall camp.
”He played in the neighborhood of 80 snaps and he was all over the field. He made, what, 19 tackles, a sack and a QB hit. So he was running around and he showed the explosiveness and the speed that you’re looking for. That was good to see.”
Southern Miss was getting “aggravating” yards.
“Two, three yards, four yards, five yards. Too many. That we need to shore up. We cannot get milked in the run game and then we have to convert third downs.”
He was pleased with special teams. (Except for that blocked punt, of course.)
Stoops thought the special teams units were exceptional. Coverage was “outstanding.” Kick returns were good and there were a couple that almost broke wide up. He said he felt like there were opportunities for home runs in the return game.
He hopes punting will get a little better, though, and will.
The team feels the same way it did after the game.
“It hurts just as bad,” he said of the disappointment. “But I promise you, as I said all year, this is a good football team. They knew what to do. We’ve gotta execute. And the thing that we have to do, have to get coached is when things go wrong, we have to go back and execute.”