This week’s Mark Stoops Show didn’t produce the same crop of callers as last week (luckily). In fact, they changed things up to keep the callers from throwing curveballs. When Tom announced the callers name and location, he would also say, “who has a question about…”
There were still a few strange interactions, but nothing to compare to last week’s show. In between calls, Stoops managed to drop a few informative nuggets.
— Personnel Updates. Alvonte Bell will return to the lineup after missing last week with a suspension. Marcus Walker is returning from injury and should provide depth in special teams and at safety.
Most importantly, cornerback Derrick Baity was back at practice. Stoops said, “It surprised me. I was definitely concerned about him.”
— The two plays they missed. The one that sticks out the most is the tipped-pass to C.J. Conrad.
“That’s a shot you only get once. We had it, just missed it.” They run that run-pass option frequently but that one was dialed-up perfectly, “We had em in the right call at the right moment.”
The second miss was on a wide receiver screen. “There’s things we could do better to spring it.” For example, the receiver was probably lined up two yards too close and the splits from the offensive line were off, allowing the linebacker to make a great play on the ball.
— Stoops’ best quote. When he arrived to Kentucky he came with a plan for turning around the football program. Stoops said he has stuck with that original plan, only altering it within different facets of the program — recruiting, weight lifting etc. — from time to time.
“You always gotta stick to your guns. When you’re trying to turn a ship the size of this in the direction you wanna go, you gotta stick by the principles you believe in and never waiver.”
— Recruiting “quite a few” defensive linemen. Freddie Maggard recently said, “Don’t talk to me about recruiting unless they’re defensive linemen.” Stoops did just that today. He said they need a “bunch,” up to six or seven in the 2018 recruiting class.
— Vandy and UK’s defenses aren’t so different. Even though Vandy’s defense is perceived as a juggernaut, Stoops noted the two teams give up exactly the same amount of yards per play — 5.9.
— Balance when taking shots. Kentucky has done an exceptional job running the ball this season, but some fans would like to see the ball moved through the air more. The trouble is finding the right time to go deep. Before Eddie Gran dialed up a flea-flicker, he asked Stoops if it was okay to take the shot. Stoops approved, and it felt right at the time, but it didn’t work. It got them behind the chains and essentially wasted the drive, making this tricky process even more enigmatic.