– The biggest news of the day was the announcement of Max Smith as the starting QB for the home opener against Miami. It’s undeniable that Max out-threw Jalen during his time on the field, with Alan Cutler pointing out to me after the game that in Max’s first drive he threw for 73 yards, whereas Jalen only 78 in the 3 quarters prior. The decision to call on the primary passer to run the offense may have to do with this week’s matchup; last week Miami gave up 5 passing TDs to Marshall. Stoops still envisions Jalen receiving some playing time, but the team needs to start off much hotter than they did against WKU, “Every week, you know and I know, we’re going to do whatever it takes to win the game and prepare to win the game. With that being said, you have to build on who you are. That’s where us as a staff are still doing the best we can to put our players in a position to win, to move the ball, to stop people on defense.”
– There were plenty of ups and downs Saturday, with Coach Stoops most upset how the players handled the downs.
“I saw some people going back to some poor habits. And you know, I should’ve done a better job of forcing — because when things go bad, the players just want to go back out there and just try to make plays. That’s never a good thing. When things go bad, you go back to fundamentals and paying attention to the small details. We lost sight of the details on both sides of the ball. And for that, I accept that responsibility. You had a good idea that some of that was going to happen and it did and guys just kind of — they mean well, but that doesn’t they’re playing well — you can’t just get out there doing your own thing and running under blocks and so on and so forth.”
Some guys even handled the ‘ups’ poorly. In one segment in particular, Josh Forrest played a misdirection run well, maintaining outside containment and wrapping up the RB in the backfield. After the good play, Forrest tried to do too much, biting on the run-fake and allowing his man to slip into the flats before scoring a TD. It will be a difficult challenge to eradicate these problems that can only be solved by doing the correct things time and time again.
– Even though it was a loss, there can still be some positive take-aways from the game. Coach Stoops was most pleased with Raymond Sanders, who provided consistency in the backfield. Sanders was the spark that got the UK offense rolling, taking the ball 49 yards down the field early in the first half. There were more big plays than Cats’ fans are used to seeing, another positive take-away from Coach Stoops, “We did a nice job of creating some explosive plays. Some guys that we thought could do it — you know, we’ll get more as we go.”
– After receiving tons of praise week in and week out from the coaching staff, FR WR Alex Montgomery was notably absent from much action against WKU. Unfortunately, Montgomery came down with an illness the day the team traveled to Nashville. The staff worked to get him onto the field but he was physically unable to work at 100%.
– Coach Stoops was taken aback when Kyle Tucker astutely observed that the last time a Stoops D gave up 487 yards (exactly) was in his second game at FSU against his brother Bob. “Is that right? Is that right? Wow, I didn’t realize that. I’m sorry. You threw me off there.” That game was a pivotal moment in Coach Stoops’ career, going back to the drawing board after that game and monumentally changing the defense. There won’t be any ‘knee-jerk’ reactions after just one game, but Stoops knows the importance of persevering after an emotional loss.
“I said it at the time â€‘â€‘ you know, that was a long time ago, but I changed. That was very similar in that that was our second game. We went through all spring, went through camp, went into that game, got shredded, and we changed overnight and really haven’t looked back since. So that’s our job, and that’s on both sides of the ball. That’s why people were saying, you know, are we air raid? Are we running? Hey, man, we’re trying to win. We’re trying to do whatever we have to do to win games to put our players in a position to be successful on all sides of the ball. So, yeah, I’m looking deep into what we’re doing defensively and seeing what we can do better and putting our players in a position to be more successful.”
– Joe Mansour started the game well vs. WKU, knocking in two field goals from 22 and 30 yards out. How he ended the game was a completely different story, missing a PAT that would’ve put the game within one score with 1:37 remaining, following that up with an atrocious onside kick. When Coach Stoops was asked if he’s not worried about Mansour, he replied, “I can’t say that I’m not worried about it. I saw what you saw.”
Boone’s Butcher Shop Injury Report
Coach Stoops remains steadfast in his ideology of disclosing too much injury information to the public. He mentioned many ‘bumps and bruises’, but it’s unavoidable talking about the status of CB Cody Quinn. They believed Cody would be good to go last week, taking some full reps in practice before having another setback, keeping him from participating in full practice reps this week. The only substantial injury was the loss of backup snapper Kyle Budde, who will miss the remainder of the season, requiring surgery to fix his wounded body.
– I’ll be back later to preach about the run defense, the biggest take-away from the presser IMO after the DLine took a ton of heat following the game. @RoushKSR