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Ten things we learned from this week’s Mark Stoops Show

While Mark Stoops typically speaks to the media twice a week – once on Monday afternoon for a weekly press conference and another post-practice session on Thursday evening – the Kentucky head coach usually uses weekly call-in radio show on Monday evenings to kick back and relax a bit.

During the hour-long show with Tom Leach, Stoops usually opens up about his team’s performance from the previous week, previews Kentucky’s upcoming opponent (or plans for the bye week), and answers questions via phone and social media from the Big Blue Nation.

This evening, Stoops went in-depth about Kentucky’s 24-7 loss to South Carolina on Saturday, discussed the injury status Sawyer Smith, talked about what he plans to do at quarterback moving forward, and explained his decision to kick a PAT following the team’s lone touchdown score, among other topics.

Here are the ten things we learned during the Mark Stoops Show this evening:

Sunday was tough for the Kentucky coaching staff

Last week, Stoops said Sundays were great days to move on from the team’s previous game and start fresh in preparation of a new opponent.

Today, though, the Kentucky head coach said the staff’s film sessions and meetings were brutal on Sunday given the team’s tough road loss at South Carolina.

“Definitely was not [easy], we went through it obviously and spent time with the staff watching film, making corrections. Sunday was a rough day,” he said. “It is nice to have a bye week this week. Get some guys healed up, we need to get healthy. It’s a good thing for the players, don’t have to worry about game-planning or anything.”

Sawyer Smith is banged up

To no one’s surprise, Kentucky starting quarterback Sawyer Smith’s health was one of the first (and most prominent) topics of the show.

In short, Stoops doesn’t want the Troy graduate transfer to even pick up a football in practice until he gets healthy.

“He is beat up, but he will recover. Hopefully this week, we will have to rest him all week,” Stoops said. “I would anticipate resting him all week, that’s the plan anyway. Maybe he starts feeling better, but he’s got two injuries, actually a third one came up. Hopefully he’s looking better. … But unless something drastic happens, he won’t pick up a football until Monday.”

When asked about what the third injury was outside of his wrist and shoulder, Stoops wouldn’t say.

While he’s disappointed Smith is injured and that his play has left a lot to be desired over the last two weeks as a result, Stoops is appreciative of the way his starter has fought through adversity.

He also admitted that he likely should have pulled him from the game to avoid even further injury.

“There’s no doubt, you have to have great respect for him to put it on the line for his team, do the best he can,” he said. “It’s a fair criticism to say, “Why didn’t you get him out earlier?” I can accept that. We were just trying to put a drive together and get back in the game, but in hindsight, I probably would have taken him out of the game much earlier. It just needs time, it can get aggravated during the game. Use, things like that. Didn’t think it would be anything long term or he wouldn’t have been in there, our doctors and trainers do a great job and wouldn’t put him in that position.”

Lynn Bowden will get QB1 reps this week at practice

While Sawyer Smith is recovering from his various injuries, Stoops announced on Monday evening that Lynn Bowden would be receiving first-team reps at practice this week, and very well could play quarterback against Arkansas in two weeks if Smith isn’t ready.

“I think it’s no secret we’re going to continue to work Lynn in at quarterback, and then Walker Wood. We’ll use both of them out there [during practice],” Stoops said. “Everything is in play. We’ll see, it’s hard to see how this week is going to go. We’ll get those guys ready. A lot of talk has been out there about our quarterbacks, but Lynn gave us the best option. He gave us a great two or three weeks at the position [in practice].”

Stoops added that he will be relying on Smith to be completely honest about his recovery and whether or not he would be effective enough to win football games health-wise. If not, he will likely go with Bowden against Arkansas.

“Definitely, yeah. We have to be cognizant about that,” he said. “He needs to be honest about that, whether or not he’s going to be effective. If he’s not 100% or close to that, he needs to tell us that. We’ll have a package this week that will work specifically for Lynn and Walker. Even if Sawyer is healthy enough to practice next Monday, we have to be ready for Lynn.”

If Bowden starts in two weeks against Arkansas, Stoops said he will not have to hold back in terms of the offensive playbook. The Kentucky believes his star receiver has a firm grasp of the playbook and can run the offense in its entirety.

“We’ll run our entire offense, his vision is so impressive,” he said. “Dropback and RPO-wise. It also helps to have an athletic guy back there, you can’t just tee off and rush. It helps when we have struggles on the offensive line like we’re having now. You have to be disciplined in your rush lanes when you have Terry back there, he can get around you and beat you in a hurry.”

What does Bowden bring to the table at quarterback? According to Stoops, it keeps defenders honest in the same way athletic quarterbacks do to elite defenses in the NFL.

“You can tell just by watching that game. When he went in there, the pass rush was different,” Stoops said. “They had to be more disciplined in their rush defense. They had to be more disciplined, so it wasn’t as effective. You can watch that in the NFL right now, some of the very elusive guys, the defense has to be more disciplined. They’re also in a predicament because they have to decide whether they’re going to go man or zone. If you go zone, Lynn can nickel and dime you, and then pull it down and run it if need be.”

What’s up with Walker Wood?

For the second week in a row, sophomore quarterback Walker Wood threw his helmet on and joined the offensive huddle once it looked like Smith would need to be pulled from the game due to injury.

And for the second consecutive week, Wood was replaced – by Smith again once he returned from the locker room against Mississippi State and by Bowden against South Carolina – before he got a single rep.

Why? Stoops acknowledged that while he’s technically 100% healthy from a physical standpoint following the trio of surgeries he has undergone since arriving in Lexington, there is still work to do from a mental and mechanical standpoint.

“He’s had three surgeries over the last several years. He’s fully healthy, but it’s tough for players to come off shoulder surgeries,” Stoops said. “But if his number is called, I’m sure he’ll come in and give us everything he’s got.”

Kentucky has to get back to the run game

After Stoops voiced his displeasure to the media about throwing the ball 42 times last week against Mississippi State, Kentucky followed it up with a 34-throw, 97-yard performance against South Carolina.

On the flip side, the Wildcats only carried the ball 28 times for a total of 115 yards, even factoring in the -34 yards from sacks.

On Monday, Stoops said the team went away from the run too quickly due to a few early struggles.

“We’re getting away from the run too quickly. It kind of spooks you a bit, there was a play early where we lost three yards on a 1st and 10,” he said. “I mentioned it after the game, but it feels like it’s getting away from you early. You have to get some stops early, just feels like you’re behind right away. We just can’t do that. Right now with the injuries that we’ve had, we’re not as explosive as we were to start the season. We have to get back to playing winning football, using that winning football, and that includes running the ball effectively.”

The lone bright spot in terms of running backs? Chris Rodriguez, who finished the day with 65 yards on six carries in his first game back receiving reps since his two-fumble performance to open the season against Toledo.

“He’s earned the trust of the coaches and players,” Stoops said. “It was good to see him step up and get reps.”

Kavosiey Smoke will be okay

On that note, redshirt freshman running back Kavosiey Smoke managed just seven yards on two carries, missing the majority of the game due to a migraine.

Today, Stoops said the doctors confirmed there was no concussion and that he would be back sooner rather than later.

“I was worried it was a concussion, but no, it’s not that. The doctors confirmed that,” he said. “He has a history of migraines, he was really struggling there, but it won’t be a long-term thing.”

Will Xavier Peters get more reps after the bye?

After getting in on the very last series of the game against South Carolina, Stoops believes Florida State transfer Xavier Peters could receive more reps after the bye week.

“Definitely, we have to look at all options, give all of our guys opportunities,” he said. “Inexperience is a problem for us. It wasn’t a problem at quarterback, but now here we are. That was going to be. Just so inexperienced, especially on defense. But we’ve got some good players.”

Stoops said he didn’t go for two after UK’s lone touchdown score because a comeback was unlikely

After Rodriguez scored Kentucky’s lone touchdown of the day with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter to cut South Carolina’s lead to 18, Mark Stoops opted to kick an extra point instead of going for two, sparking some questions from fans and the media.

According to Stoops, though, a comeback simply wasn’t reality and he valued getting another attempt for Matt Ruffolo and potentially another series of reps for Lynn Bowden at quarterback.

“The first thing I was thinking was to get Ruffolo a kick,” he said. “You have to get a two-point conversion, onside kick, touchdown, two-point conversion, onside kick, touchdown, and a two-point conversion [to tie]. It’d be a seven-step process. Seven looks better than six, let’s be honest. It allows Lynn to get back in at quarterback. Tell me the Einstein who things seven things are going to happen in two minutes, give me a break.”

Max Duffy has been “amazing”

After managing a single-game Kentucky record of a 51-yard-plus average, holding the top spot as the all-time leader in school history in terms of school average, and his status as the nation’s leader, in punting average, Stoops said punter Max Duffy has been nothing short of “amazing” this season in Lexington.

“He’s been amazing,” he said. “He can punt in the pocket, he can give it hangtime, he can roll it left and punt it left, roll it right and punt it left. If you put two returners back there, you know we’re going to have some fakes. He probably had an opportunity to run a fake there on Saturday, probably should have.”

The redshirt and transfer players are coming along

When asked about true freshmen and four-star in-state signees JJ Weaver and Jared Casey, Stoops said he was pleased with the progress they are both making, adding that Casey nearly got playing time on Saturday against South Carolina.

“They are doing a very good job, two very good players. Love both of those players,” he said. “They work very hard, they’re going to be very good football players for us here. We were thinking about putting Jared Casey there in the fourth quarter, but the goal is to redshirt both of those guys. You never know with injuries, you have to be ready to plug in everyone, make sure they’re ready to go.”

As for LSU defensive back transfer Kelvin Joseph, Stoops said he is impressed with how far he has come along since arriving right before the season started and that he expected big things from the 6-foot-1 cornerback next season.

“Kelvin is doing a good job, taking care of his business,” he said. “Doing well in the weight room. We will be excited for him when he can step on the football field.”


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

41 Comments for Ten things we learned from this week’s Mark Stoops Show

  1. Jesus H. Chrysler
    8:32 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    “You never know with injuries, you have to be ready to plug in everyone, make sure they’re ready to go.” = Bullsh*t

    So that’s why Walker Wood or Mani Gilmore ain’t ur next QB, eh?

    • cats646
      9:31 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Dude clearly Gilmore and Wood just aren’t ready/good enough to play. Bowden is our best option. It sucks but injuries have completely fuked us up this year.

    • ukisgr8
      10:12 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Walker wood was horrid in high school outside of running against inferior teams. No way is he even a eku backup qb. I’m sure he doesn’t want to blow a redshirt with Gilmore but may not have a choice if smith doesn’t heal quickly

  2. cathatter
    8:44 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    really those were 10 things we pretty much knew already. Why on-sides kick attempt after not going for two? – at some point Stoops just needs to own up to the stupid things this team does!

    • Drogon
      8:49 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      A comeback was unlikely so we went for the onside kick lmao. He didn’t go for two because they fell asleep at the wheel. Own it. Don’t be liar. If you aren’t a liar then you’re incompetent and this team won 10 games last year so incompetence doesn’t fit.

    • cats646
      9:18 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Like he said. He wanted to get Bowden more reps at QB. That’s why you onside kick.

    • RAGE
      9:39 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Please I don’t buy that

    • ukkatzfan
      10:00 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Shop elsewhere then.

  3. RAGE
    9:39 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    I am a die hard UK fan before I get called a troll for my comment… But every time I hear him talk it makes me want to really dislike him… Own your mistakes… GETTING THE KICKER ANOTHER KICK!!!! Cmon he treats the fans like we are all stupid and he is all knowing!!!! He has two weeks to do that at practice before we even play another game… if the kicker needs more reps you the coach get him some… I mean should we give up on the team the same way he obviously gave up Saturday… He is the coach and yeah it may be a long shot for everything to happen for a comeback to occur but strange things do happen… They happen every season for teams.. He is suppose to try not kick the extra point and then try an onside kick… That makes no sense… I know my grammar sucks on this but man just hearing him after our last two performances makes me really frustrated…
    Plus why give the Walker Wood a scholarship offer in the first place if after a couple seasons he still isn’t good enough to play… I know everyone likes him but he sounds incompetent as a coach… Last week he was so pleased with our team practices leading up to the game… Then Saturday we go out play uninspired football again and get embarrassed by a “pitiful” SC football team… And that was a week after we played uninspired and got run over by a first time starting true freshmen QB at Miss State.. sorry but man reading his comments have really frustrated me… When I watched the game on Saturday I know as a fan I was wondering what we practiced in the first place cause it sure looked like we were at a loss for most of the game

    • ukkatzfan
      10:02 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      You treat him like he is stupid and you are all knowing. Who is more likely to be all knowing in football ? A division one SEC coach or you. Other one is the stupid one. lol

    • RAGE
      10:05 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      I wasn’t comparing him to me… I may have not said that right in my knee jerk reaction.. of course he knows more than any of us… he def should… I just think when he speaks to the media he is trying to convince us all of his decisions… he is like he has no clue at the moment then tries to convince the media of his decisions… I wasn’t talking about me or anyone else in particular… Just listen to his call in show and listen to other coaches… he sounds not confident and like he has to convince everyone of how he does things…

    • RAGE
      10:11 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Listen to other coaches and they can give you a clear reason… they don’t sound like they are trying to sale you their idea as right… I listen to a lot of shows and JMO… besides Katzfan my only comment was that we are fans and deserve better than our coach throwing in the towel before the game was over and was what he sounded like… I am just frustrated by his coach speak we get every week… He is paid a lot of money to make any decision he does and I don’t think all of us fans are dumb or idiots… we may know the intricacies of all the Xs and Os but we know the sport enough to see the obvious… I can tell that a lot of people know that who take time to follow the sports teams across the country…. again it was a knee jerk reaction to hearing him speak after what I have seen on the field the last two weeks

    • RAGE
      10:13 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      May not know the intricacies was what I meant sorry again auto correct and frustrations

    • cats646
      10:18 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Now rage you’re just just trying to convince us that auto-correct made that mistake like we’re all dumb and don’t know how it works. Lol JK

    • RAGE
      10:30 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Lol Cats646… I am sorry for my rant… I honestly didn’t even read what I wrote at first half of the stuff I typed came out wrong from what I was thinking.. My fingers couldn’t keep up with my mind and temper I don’t guess… I ain’t saying he is the worse or anything.. I just get tired of the coach speak we hear every week… He sees the mistakes then the following week they ain’t addressed and sometimes they are continued… I know most may not agree and I am retiring from this post I just think the fans deserve better.. Def the ones of us spending our hard earned money… But I still support our team

    • Middy
      10:44 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      It was a bad game. The kicker comment makes sense. There is no substitute for live game reps.

  4. bigblue98
    9:49 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    One thing I learned this week – don’t ever take a road trip to South Carolina, spend a lot of money, and then listen to the same thing week after week. If Smith wasn’t healthy enough to play he should have been pulled. If 78 total yards in first half didn’t show that then the coaches have a problem spotting effectiveness on the field. Defense got dominated, o-line got whipped, and receivers dropped passes. This is more than about the qb – this was an all systems failure, starting with the coaching staff. Thanks for not showing up when thousands of fans went to Columbia to support the team (and stayed till the end of the game). This was the most embarrassing loss we’ve had since Joker’s last year against Vandy.

    • Bigbluefish73
      10:10 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      ^^^^^^^ My feelings exactly ^^^^

    • RAGE
      10:12 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      I agree big blue… that was simply the reason for my frustration in my post… you just probably made it more clear than I did

    • cats646
      10:23 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      It really does suck for y’all that went down there. I’m still going to UGA although at this point I’m starting to dread that trip more then look forward to it. Hopefully this team will show me something that changes my mind.
      GO BIG BLUE!!

  5. lex cath
    10:21 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    If they start Bowden at QB in this league it will be mailing in the season, he hasn’t played the position since high school. It’s embarrassing

    • Looother
      10:33 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Who else do you think Stoops should start that wouldn’t involve “mailing in the season” ?

    • Darth Vader
      10:37 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Ageed Lex Cary. If Wood or Gilmore aren’t ready, get them ready by doing your job COACHING. If they’re not good enough to play QB1 at SEC level, do your job by RECRUITING those that are.

      It’s really simple folks. Stoops should have this team ready to COMPETE. Win or Lose.

  6. makeitstop
    10:58 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Putting ur best receiver at QB is just desperation. Who’s he going to throw to? Why did we recruit Gilmore or Wood if they can’t play? They’re QBs. They’re in the room – we train them – they must do something well. Build the playbook around that. It’s outrageous that in the SEC we are talking about using a receiver as QB no matter how good an athlete he is. Are we that team again?!

    • PeterSagan
      11:27 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Aren’t they injured as well ….?

    • makeitstop
      11:46 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      No Gilmore and Wood are ok

    • satcheluk
      1:32 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Wood’s arm strength has so diminished from the shoulder surgeries that he cannot throw anything down field. UK honors his scholarship for the work he puts in, but from what I hear, he’s not close to ready. May never be.

    • bennybbn
      11:56 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      We recruited wood as an athlete and he wouldn’t play another position, Gilmore didn’t get here to fall man, we complained that the playbook wasn’t open for Terry imagine what it’s be like for a freshman who showed up in the fall

  7. makeitstop
    11:04 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Btw if Wood wasn’t good enough to be third string why didn’t we try and keep Hoak? Or recruit 2 grad students? What are we doing? No one expects to hv 2 guys go down or ur 3D string to blow his knees out again, but u can count presumably. Why stop w 2 capable QBs?

  8. UK triplelegacy
    11:15 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Receivers knowledge of the plays gives them a head start at playing QB, but does Lynn really know the rest of the offense as reported. If he does and if he can execute the offense as originally defined for TW this year, then turn him loose. I am more concerned that he knows when to throw it out of bounds to not loose field position and how to slide so he doesn’t get hurt running the ball. On the two point conversion, there is a chart, use it and there is no decision. Coach can avoid in game decisions about PAT or TPC by just sticking with the chart. Go Cats!

    11:45 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Losing Wilson has changed the flow of the offense .. I think sawyer would have done fine and he showed that against Florida . Then he gets hurt .. so everyone is out of sync right now throws the o line off keeps defense on field longer etc .. with that said I truly think our coaching staff may only be good when everything is going their way .. when adversity hits they don’t know how to adapt .. conservative old school football and we will mostly he mediocre

  10. notFromhere
    1:38 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

    This isn’t the pros. They don’t have unlimited practice time to work with their athletes. UK is recruiting better but they still aren’t an Alabama or Clemson with 2 true 4-5 star QBs on the roster. Wake the freak up people.

    We have 2 injured QBs. Not even Bama is bama if their top 2 QBs go down. Same goes for Clemson.

    You do what you can with what you have that gives you the best chance to win right away. Gilmore hasnt had one snap with the ones in practice. There’s simply not the time. Wood hasnt had much himself.

    I look forward to seeing Gilmore develop and play in the future, but him not being thrown into the fire 5 games (2 months) into hiscollege career doesn’t mean he isnt good enough. Y’all have absolutely no clue what the position is like…

    • dave1964
      8:55 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

      So if we as fans have no clue maybe you can explain why these other teams can beat UK with a 3rd string QB since we have no clue you can give your expert opinion.

    • ukisgr8
      10:21 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Bama has tua’s brother at 3rd string. They would be just fine

  11. DelrayCat
    7:33 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Its not just bad is bad planning by the staff to not have more QBs on the roster. No walkons or anything?

    • satcheluk
      1:40 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Two transfers out (#2 & #3), then #1 & #4 injure their knees. Walker Wood has never been a viable option. He is still recovering from multiple shoulder surgeries. He may be 100% healthy, but he’s at 50% of his pre injury arm strength. He’s only been on the depth chart to keep him motivated. You can’t prepare to rely on your 5th or 6th option at QB. I’d like to hear of a single successful season where the #6 option took over and took the team to a bowl.

  12. Bluenblood
    8:39 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

    So the QB sitch is disaster yes but why are you keeping a solid hard hitting RB Rodriguez in the box since Toledo. WTF we haven’t run worth a damn esp inside where CR shows some promise AJ can’t hit a hole with authority he is hesitant etc it’s obvious. He’s a killer off the tackles though and great speed but not one for contact. Stoops let’s a young quality player sit and suck it on the sidelines. I would hate that. Yes he fumbled twice….first college game you know??? It happens!!!! And Coach penalizes the kid the team the fans for 4 [email protected]%kin games????? Bad Form

    • dave1964
      8:58 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Yes and the kid gets pissed for not playing him and he transfers

  13. TBW3011
    9:30 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

    He’s dumber than I thought. It’s not likely, so why even try. Nice attitude coach. Crazier things have actually happened. Of course the coach didn’t quit in those instances.

  14. VMI1957
    9:54 am October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Kentucky will be 4-8 this season – just you wait!!!

    • wildcat444
      2:30 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Curci was 4-8 in 1978 after going 10-1 in 1977