MARK STOOPS: Good to get that one under the belt. Good to get a victory. You know, there is an awful lot to improve on, that’s for sure.
It’s always a good thing when you walk in and you win by 14 points and you’re frustrated in a lot of ways, but that’s okay. We’re striving to be the best we can. We left a lot on that field, but we also did a lot of good things.
I thought some of the newcomers, some of the young guys responded very well and did some very good things, and we made some mistakes. You know some mistakes are going to happen and you have to be a team and overcome them. Putting the ball on the ground like we did has got to stop. If we don’t put the a ball on the ground, we sit there and win by three scores and don’t feel like we played our best football.
Part of that frustration has to do with Toledo. I want to give them credit because we knew they were a good football team and they make you earn your yards, they make you work. They’re well-coached, they’re tough kids, and we knew that coming into it. They did some good things; we certainly did some good things.
I felt like there is a lot we can improve on. It’s good to get that victory, go back to work, and get back at it Monday and try to keep improving. Key is to be 1-0. We’re only guaranteed 12 opportunities; that’s one.
Got to get back to work and see where we are and improve in all areas.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: I thought it had a lot to do with them settling down. The other quarterback actually is a better thrower in certain ways or more efficient at times throwing the ball, so I thought that he did settle in.
I was pleased. I thought they made some plays. They made some good plays on the football and settled in, and that’s just part of the playing good as a team. Got them in a little bit more predictable pass at times.
Early on it was frustrating. They did a nice job. They were getting us in third and manageable, third and medium, and they were converting. Give them credit. They do a nice job, and we needed to step up. Whether it was well-designed play or them — the quarterback ad libbing, scrambling, running, but they were converting on some of the third downs. I though that the key early. That gave them an opportunity to keep some drives alive.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: Really good. He’s playing and you’re seeing him show up like we had hoped. We saw flashes of that during camp and felt like he could be a tough matchup for some people, and he showed up today.
Q. What did you think about that unit as a whole? Lynn gets so much attention, but a lot of those other guys…
MARK STOOPS: Well, they made some competitive catches. And, again, I think later in the game when we were just settling in running our offense, throwing it, drop-back pass, we were efficient. That’s why late in the game we were trying to throw more as well. Just to get Terry comfortable, just get throwing the ball, and we go put it on the ground.
Because he had looked really good at two previous drives. And so as you’ve heard me talk about before, but as you get more plays and more offense, moving the ball, good things will happen.
I thought it was frustrating with the second to the last drive of the first half. We had a seven-yard gain on first down; on second down we missed the run. We should have had a first down. Now you get more opportunities because we were moving it good. But we make a bad run, it’s third and 5 and we don’t get the third down, and next thing you know you’re punting. That’s frustrating.
So those are things we got to get cleaned up. But when he had opportunities, got running plays, I thought he was effective. He missed some throws, but that’s why we went back at it and kept on throwing it, and then he made some very good throws.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: Oh, yeah. I mean, he was probably in there as much as he can handle today, I would assume. I don’t know his snap count, but he’s a starter and he’s in there. It was very hot out there so you had to rotate some guys. Certainly with him couple weeks after his last treatment it’s great to see him out there. He’s been feeling good.
I’m not sure what his snap count was today, but, yeah he’ll go as many as he can handle.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: Very. Probably doesn’t surprise many of you in here either. You’ve seen him and watched him play very good as a freshman; come back bigger stronger, understands the defense better. He’s a playmaker. He’s one of those guys just a good football player. That was a nice competitive play he made out there today.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, big time. I thought it started with the momentum, you know, was on their side early and they were overloading us and coming after and we rolled left. Coach Hood had a nice scheme there and I believe they checked out of that and went to the left and he rolled left and had that huge punt early on.
I mean, the rest of the day he was really solid. He’s a weapon.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, it was solid. A lot of that has to do with him, where he places the ball, the height, and everything. But the guys have been busting it. They been work ing hard on their coverage units, and Coach Hood does a very good job. We were very effective there today.
I thought they — I don’t know what the hidden yards was, but they had some good nets as well because we were giving up too many first downs and they were punting and then we were in punt stakes, it was 4th and 2, 3, and just trying to get the ball back and putting Lynn in a tough spot, just some of the those kicks.
We put better defense and get a little longer fourth down then we can set up some returns a little bit better.
Q. What did you see from the running backs trio?
MARK STOOPS: I thought they did a good job. There is a lot to improve on. There is a lot. There is a lot they need to improve on. They certainly did some good things, and our offensive line always does some good things as well.
But I would like to see our mentality turn up a couple notches as a team. I don’t want to put that just on them. As a team we need to — we need a little tougher mentality as we move forward.
We’re going to get that out of them.
Q. Three running backs really stand out to you today?
MARK STOOPS: Like I said, I thought there was some good and some bad. We’ll go watch the film. I think there are some things — I don’t want to downplay it because I thought they did some good things. There are some things we need to improve on.
But, that’s everybody, including myself.
Q. Earlier you mentioned defense kind of struggling to get off the field. (Regarding offense.) What was going on?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think that was the game early; that’s why it was close early. They were converting third down; we weren’t. Part of it was they were in manageable third downs. We’re pretty good when we are in manageable third downs as well.
We did some silly things early. I forget what possession it was when Terry threw the ball backwards. I mea, we get a good first gain, positive yards on first down, and we go throw it on second down and we throw it backwards for ten yards, so that’s third and 14. No one wants to live in that.
So I think that was a big piece of it. There are just things we got to get better at. We got to coach them up better. We all got to do a better job make it more manageable on those third downs.
They did a nice job. We tried pressuring; they beat us in one-on-one. We tried zone; they dumped it down. You know, so they had a good plan early on on third down.
I thought we settled in in the second half.
Q. Pleased with your line play offensively and defensively today?
MARK STOOPS: I did. There were some rush lanes. You know, there were some rush lanes issues. It wasn’t all on them. One of them was a stunt and he got out early and ran on a third down that we could clean up coaching-wise.
But overall, I thought — I never felt like even though they rushed for some aggravating rush yards, never felt like we were really out of position. One of our corners was out of position with the long run. I think that was the 14. Our corner, Jamari, got out of the position there leveraging the ball.
But defensive line up front was solid. Offensive line the same way. I felt like there were some holes there. We were doing a nice job. Thought we were very efficient in our extra set and unbalanced set. We were getting five, six yards a pop.
Just a little bit sloppy on some of that second down stuff where we lost some yards. Just got to continue to stay ahead of the sticks.
Q. (Regarding review by committee.)
MARK STOOPS: I don’t know how many we had, but there was some pressure. They do a nice job. They got to buy some time, too. Even when we had pressure, just kind of beat it outside of it. But, yeah, overall I thought they did a nice job getting some pressure.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: It’s tough. It’s tough. You know, I think you all know that. You see the issues nationwide, so it’s just a tough call. It’s tough.
You know, they review it. I’m quite confident in the committee and Steve. And that goes back to the SEC office, so that was looked at by a lot of people. If they upheld the call, that’s what it is.
So I thought initially when I watched it during the game that Chris was throwing an arm just to protect him, but he didn’t. I think as long as we’re trying to wrap up, that’s a tough call. I’m not complaining about it being thrown and I’m not complaining about Chris, because I think he was hustling.
It’s very difficult to know when the quarterback is going down the slide and if he’s going to slide. As long as they’re going to wrap up and our head is up and trying to play clean, then it’s just going to happen sometimes. It’s in our game. It’s, you know, for the well-being and the safety of our student-athletes, so it is what it is. I support it.
Q. What was the locker room like at halftime?
MARK STOOPS: Nobody was panicking. But, yeah, there was frustration. That’s what I told the team after the game here. It’s like that early. These guys have been working for a long time, all the way back to last winter. All the summer workouts and everything they’ve done, and we’re tired of playing each other. You get to this first game and you just really want — you just want to win and win by a bunch automatically. It’s one play at time. It’s hard for those guys because they want it all and they want it all right now.
That’s where we have to continue to build our identity and have a toughness about us. We got to have a unity about us. We got to play selfless, and that’s hard because they guys work hard and they want to go out there and be the guy. You understand that.
But it’s one play at a time. When we all take care of our business one play at a time big things will happen. That started the show later in the game.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARK STOOPS: He did. It’s good seeing him out there kind of feeling good. He looks faster to me, much more comfortable, and it’s good to get him back getting him healthy.
Q. What happened there with Lynn?
MARK STOOPS: I don’t think — I think he was — not making excuses for him. I think he was playing a lot. When you start doing those punt return, kick returns, offense plays in that heat, I think he was a little disoriented, to be honest with you. He’s been solid. He’ll get it corrected.
Q. I think you only played two true freshman all day.
MARK STOOPS: Did we.
Q. What does that speak to?
MARK STOOPS: I mean, that’s kind of how you want it. I did address that with the young guys in there, because that’s what I told them. Talk to the older guys. They’ve all been through it. As you get better, as your program gets better, you don’t rely on those guys as much, but they can certainly help.
There are a lot of guys in that zone where we’re not going to play them unless we need to. Goes to that four-game rule. We felt like the plan was going into it not to play guys unless we had to, because you don’t know what the injuries are going to be like or how they’re going to progress.
So you could go with the route of just trying to play them and get their feet wet. We just want them to keep developing and we’ll see where it goes.
Q. Second half were there any adjustments made to where you had more stops on third down than you did in the first half?
MARK STOOPS: There were some adjustments and things we were doing, some changeups. You know, just executing better in certain situations, I think. I don’t know the exact statistics in front of me, but I think there were some longer yardage, which always helps us, third and longer.
Q. As head coach, how do you stay so patient? We’re like the players. We want it all and we want it now.
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, yeah, well, I was about to ay something and put my foot in my mouth. (Laughter.)
No, experience, John, experience. I have to talk to myself about that, you know, about staying patient and just managing the game. As the game goes on, the better team is going to win usually and good things are going to happen. I never felt like — like I said, even during the frustrating pieces today it never felt like there was something we couldn’t get fixed and weren’t going to get fixed.
Talked to the team a lot about that during the week. We have a game plan, but until you go get in there and get hit in the mouth and things happen, the game plan changes. You have to adapt and be confident in the way we’re going to adapt and make adjustments and move forward.
Q. How did you think the team —
MARK STOOPS: Thanks, Jason. Jason helps me with that.
Q. Last year you guys were so veteran led. How did they kind of handle that today?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think — you know, I talked to them about that afterwards. I want to see our identity grow some more with this team. This is our team now.
And it was, it was such a dominant personality team a year ago. We have some guys that will flourish this year and let them find their voice and be leaders. It’ll come. So we just got to continue to stay the course and get better.
Overall though I do want our identity to grow.
Q. You coached against or had many players like Ahmad who constantly draw pass interference penalties?
MARK STOOPS: No, he’s probably had the most I’ve seen. Yeah, he’s a big guy. Tough matchup. Like to see him continue to progress. I think Terry having more and more confidence in him, you know, so same with the rest of the group. I felt like late in the game we were getting comfortable throwing the ball. That kind of excites me because we need to continue to grow there.
Q. Ahmad just draw those because he’s so big and strong?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, he’s a tough matchup. He’s playing faster. We’ve been pushing him to play faster, not think as much. He knows what to do; just play the game faster.
So he’s been doing that. He’s getting better and better.
Q. Anything on the negative side you feel like you need to address now before the next game? Anything good you saw today that you want to see more of?
MARK STOOPS: There is a lot. There is a lot. We’re always going to be grateful with a victory. Never going to apologize for winning a football game. I was proud of them and the good things that we did and staying the courses and staying patient and imposing our will late in the game. We’re a physical football team. I think that started the show. So that was good.
There is a lot of negative. You know, a lot of things we need to improve on, starting with putting the ball on the ground.