COACH STOOPS: Very good team effort today. It was really fun to put together a complete game. Proud that a lot of guys got in. A lot of players played well. Guys have been working extremely hard. I felt like it was a relatively clean game. Early there were a few snags. Offensively we couldn’t seem to get many plays with the safety and the defensive score and then one-play touchdown. Took a few plays to just get into rhythm. Really proud of the team effort.
Guys really prepared well. Played hard. Got an opportunity to get a lot of guys out. Hopefully that will give us a little — hopefully they’ll be a little bit fresher going into Monday knowing we have a big game coming up here this week.
Q. With your rushing stat, you always tell us to say when you outrush a team by 474 yards … (laughter)
COACH STOOPS: If you outrush them like that, I can pretty much tell you it’s going to be 100 percent. If not, I’ll take it some day. But when you outrush somebody by whatever, 470 yards, yeah, you have a pretty good opportunity to win.
Q. How satisfying is it to know, I guess, in terms of bowl games that you’ve been to, with this team, the group that you have this year, how would you rate this as just some of the other teams that you made a bowl game with?
COACH STOOPS: It’s hard to compare them because they’re all different and unique and they’re all special in their own ways. That’s for sure. And I have great appreciation for all of our ex-players, in particular the guys that were here early on when I was here and went through some very tough times. But they laid the foundation for us.
And we don’t take the bowl games for granted. We certainly appreciate it. And never take them for granted because we know we went a lot of years without going to bowl games here.
But with this group, definitely very special, because they really did hit some adversity and really looked it right in the eye and moved on. And they’ve been really a lot of fun to coach. And I think through the tough times, through the adversity, it created some identity to this team.
So they’re very special to me because of the way they’ve handled things, the way they’ve practiced, the way they prepare, the way they compete. They’re an extremely tough group. And I greatly appreciate them.
Q. Defensively, what did you see that maybe you hadn’t seen in other games so far this game?
COACH STOOPS: Defensively what did we see?
Q. Was there something you saw today that you didn’t see from other games?
COACH STOOPS: From our group? Well, I think the fact that we had, whatever, 10 yards maybe at half and I think some of that had to do obviously with the freebies, the snaps, the miscues by them. But it still was a good effort by our defense. I thought they played a pretty dominant game from start to finish.
And we got a lot of guys in. We played a lot of guys, a lot of young kids early starting the second half. So we got quite a few snaps which was good for them.
Q. The way the D line was just rushing against the quarterbacks there, what did you see from practice during the week that led to what you saw today?
COACH STOOPS: I think if you watched us lately we’ve been playing fairly solid defense. And so I think we’re just trying to continue to build on the good things we’ve been doing. Brad’s done a really solid job, good job and all the coaches have. And so he’s got them in the right position. So we’ve just got to continue to build on that.
Q. Putting Lynn back in in the second half, how much of that was you wanting to get him to the threshold —
COACH STOOPS: I couldn’t get him out, with one more series. He wanted one more series, at least a few more snaps. So we did want to do that, though, anyway because we felt we started the game a bit sloppy and wanted to start the second half clean and have a good drive with our offense.
And then we got it down there and still stalled the first drive of the second half. But it was a good start to the second half.
Q. It’s like you all are trying to establish him as a pocket passer early in the game. Is that by design or you just want to expose him to hits since the score was what it was?
COACH STOOPS: It was. We’ve been trying to do that. A lot of it has been weather, with the games, a lot of tight tough possessions. But we’ve been wanting to just get more and more comfortable and work on that and try to improve in certain areas.
Q. Question regarding breaking the single-game rushing record …
COACH STOOPS: I didn’t know about it until the end, to be honest with you. And I had no idea. And somebody told me we’re pretty close and we kept taking a knee going backwards. I didn’t want to do that to our team, so I wanted to give them an opportunity to go forward but it didn’t affect it.
Q. Is it gratifying, two of the top seven or so rushing performances at the school or three of the top seven, your team —
COACH STOOPS: I never really thought about it like that. It’s one of the things you think about afterwards. You’re just in the moment, trying to find the best opportunity to win.
Just, again, really appreciate our coaches, Coach Gran, Coach Hinshaw, Coach Schlarman. All those guys have done a remarkable job being physical and running the ball, and another really sloppy day. When was the last time we had three games like with this kind of weather? Probably been a while.
You guys covered it for a while, but I know it’s been since, the first time since I’ve been here we’ve had three games here like this where it’s been that cold and rainy and really nasty out there, so rushing the ball really helps.
Q. You obviously have a lot of talent at running back. To see Travis Tisdale break one out there, his speed how exciting is that for the future?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, Travis is a really great kid. Really works hard. Always has such a good positive attitude, mentally tough. He comes from a tough high school program. Really works hard. He’s got some really big upside and got some speed. So it was really nice to see him get in there.
You guys noticed that last year, remember when these guys got in and you saw a bit of Chris and Kavosiey and you knew that you saw a future. And it’s the same way with him.
Q. How important has Max Duffy been to you all season, and what did you think of the tackle he had earlier?
COACH STOOPS: Doesn’t surprise me that he made the tackle. I’m sure he’s been waiting for that opportunity. So just knowing him. But he’s been a big role. It’s always so important. Field position, it’s really big to us and to most people.
In this league, there’s a lot of one-possession games in here, so the field position is big. Max has been solid all year. So, it was fun for him to make that tackle. I know he liked that.
Q. Jamin Davis has led you in tackles two weeks in a row now, how encouraging is his development?
COACH STOOPS: It’s really good to see Jamin do that. He just needed some reps and some opportunity because he’s so explosive. He’s a big, athletic guy. And just getting more and more reps, more confidence. It’s really good for him.
Q. Is this a one-game deal for Chris?
COACH STOOPS: Yes, it was. It’s a one-game deal, violation of team rules. And really don’t want to get into it anymore, but he’ll be back in action Monday.
Q. How important is it for the team to have this kind of performance right before a big rivalry game?
COACH STOOPS: I think it’s important. It’s good. We’ve played good back-to-back weeks. And so, again, hopefully some guys getting a few less snaps, hopefully it will give us a little boost, a little energy. Late in the year, it gets tough.
These guys get beat up, as I mentioned, but we’re in pretty good shape as far as physically. And getting ready for a big opportunity here this week.
Q. 24/7 Sports reported that you met with Florida State this week. Any status report on that that you’d like Kentucky fans to know?
COACH STOOPS: I’m not going to get into specifics. But Florida State, I had a great experience there. It afforded me the opportunity to be here.
And I love it here. I’ve been very fortunate. I have great administration. Dr. Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart, they’ve been so good to me. The fans, our players, the recruits. And this is where my heart is. This is where I want to be. So I’m going to be at Kentucky.
I felt like I was answering too many questions with recruits. And just felt like it was time to answer those questions directly and be honest with them. And this is where I want to be. So this is what I want to do.
Q. Kind of jumping off, seeing the way you guys have managed to make something out of this season, when you lose two quarterbacks, is that seeing the depth and is that kind of almost self-fulfilling?
COACH STOOPS: You know, it is. I think every year it’s a new opportunity. It’s a new challenge. The league that we play in, it’s extremely difficult. And with this, it’s just — it does challenge us in different ways, and it is gratifying in certain ways. For us it’s always about trying to put our kids in the best position to be successful. We’re not always perfect. That’s for sure.
But we work extremely hard to try to do that. And it has been fun with this group to see the growth and to see them overcome and to see the way they’ve rallied.
And to have an opportunity to go get number seven this week would be a big opportunity for us. I think it’s human nature for us certainly coaches and fans to look back at the what-ifs; there’s a lot of close calls. But everybody’s like that. There’s a lot of close games in this league. And so we’ve had some really close calls as well.
Q. Question regarding having two bye weeks …
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, there’s no question. I believe I touched on that a little bit Monday — maybe I didn’t — in my press conference. But there’s no question that the bye weeks this year first time since I can’t remember, the first time I think sense I’ve been coaching, that there’s been two. And it was a good year for us in that regard. It gives us an opportunity to continue to build on what we had to do offensively. And give Eddie and the staff time to completely tweak and adjust.
And they’ve had to adjust on the fly throughout this season. And the byes certainly helped.
Q. Looked like DeAndre was available if you needed him, DeAndre Square, available to you if you needed him.
COACH STOOPS: He should be back. He would have played and could have played. But we tried to get through it without him. And if he could have played, he would have. But that stinger, it’s just been little things, and it’s why aggravate it if you get through the game. I’m glad we kept him fresh.