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TRANSCRIPT: Mark Stoops recaps Tennessee win, previews Missouri

Photo via SEC

Photo via SEC

Earlier today, Mark Stoops Zoom’d with reporters to recap Kentucky’s 34-7 win over Tennessee and look ahead to Saturday’s road trip to Missouri. If you missed it live, here’s a transcript of his comments, along with a video replay.

Opening Statement

“Like I said after the game, great team victory. I thought we really played solid in all three areas this past Saturday. It was very good to go get that victory and now we’re back on to Missouri. A little (schedule) change for us and our preparation but nothing major. We always try to get ahead and have our analysts do some work to get ahead but we’ll be fine. Looking forward to getting with our players, clean up the Tennessee game, watch the film and then move on to Missouri, a team that had a week off and played very good the last time out against LSU, so we know they’re getting better and better. A well-coached football team and we expect them to, again, be rested and prepared for us. They probably had a few extra days (to prepare). We all found out Friday but we’ll get caught back up and looking forward to the challenge this week.”

On switching on the fly from Georgia to Missouri …

“From our coaching standpoint it’s nothing major. The only negative is we’re catching teams two weeks in a row who have two weeks to prepare and get healthy and get themselves cleaned up like we all like to do during an open week. But as far as us and our preparation, it’s not a major deal, just a little more work to do Saturday night and Sunday than typical but that’s okay. We got all that caught back up, just need to go out, have another really solid week and continue to build on the good things we’re doing and try to get some things cleaned up.”

On taking more risks to go after turnovers or just an overall better result the last few weeks …

“Just a result from overall team defense to be honest with you. Good things happen when you get all 11 guys in the same position. We’ve been fortunate, we’ve had a lead and (the opponent) has been in a little more predictable pass, although not so much in the Tennessee game because those interceptions happened early. I think it’s guys just playing well and being in position, playing good up front, creating some pressure, good eyes, playing more disciplined on the back end, our vision has been better, and breaking on the football, so it’s been a good group effort.”

On injury status of NG Quinton Bohanna …

“Quinton will be out for a bit. Nothing major, thank goodness for him and for us. I’m not sure how long that will be but he will be out this week.”

On turnovers coming in bunches …

“I’m not sure. I think some of it, as I’ve mentioned before, is the bounce of the ball. Let’s be honest. I’ve used this point before but one of my first years (at UK) we led the country in fumbles recovered and it wasn’t because we were knocking the snot out of somebody and the ball was coming loose, it was being fortunate with the bounces. Sometimes it’s that way. Overall, we are playing much better defensively, there is no denying that. When you put people in predictable situations, whether you’re ahead, or whether you put them in third-and-longs, or just predictable situations, we’re playing better. Guys are executing really well. (Defensive coordinator) Brad (White) has put them in good position, fundamentally we’re playing better and when all 11 guys are doing what they’re supposed to do, and playing extremely hard, generally, good things happen.”

On the team’s offensive performance vs. Tennessee …

“I really liked the way we played offensively, particularly in the second half. In the first half, I felt like we were going to do the same thing. To be totally honest, we had a miscommunication – and we can chuckle about it now but I promise you it wasn’t funny at the time – we had a miscommunication on, I want to say, the second play of the game when (offensive coordinator) Eddie’s (Gran) glasses, he was so hyped up, he had that mask on and his glasses got all fogged up and he called a formation wrong, he called a play wrong. He felt so bad because he could not see his play chart, so that put us in third-and-long early. On the next possession we had the fumble on the screen we had to Josh (Ali). I felt like he missed a cut. If he cuts it inside he may have scored, instead it turns into a (turnover). Then we get two turnovers for (defensive) touchdowns and then they had a long drive and we just got a little out of kilter. Another play that stalled a drive was called from the middle and our players got a little confused, the one where Terry (Wilson) appeared to go the wrong way, but again, it was because it was in the middle of the field. We could do a better job calling that off a hash(mark).

“We kind of hurt ourselves early and didn’t have many possessions. In the second half we started with a (defensive) three-and-out and the offense goes 11 plays in, I believe, around six minutes and scored a touchdown, was very big. We get another stop, another long drive for three and then another long drive (for a touchdown), so we possessed the ball in the second half and I thought we did a really nice job being aggressive when some plays were there and Terry and the receivers and tight ends executed it well. We got some big gains from the pass game, which in turn created some space in the run game and not let them play with the numbers at times, and we created some big plays and kept them off balance. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that, keeping teams off balance by being efficient, both throwing and running.”

On play of offensive guards Austin Dotson and Kenneth Horsey …

“Pleased with those guys. They are both getting better, Kenneth and Austin. Both are guys that we like, that are really about the team and it’s about how we play (as a team) when they’re in the game. They obviously, individually, want to play well but they want the team to play well. They work extremely hard and take on that same mentality as the (rest of) the offensive line that we have this year and we’ve had in the past. Appreciate the work they are putting in.”

On outside linebackers Jordan Wright and J.J. Weaver on the field at the same time and what that defensive package gives the team …

“Definitely will (do that more). I thought all three of those outside linebackers that played, really played well. I thought Boogie’s (Watson) sack early in the game was a major play in the game for momentum and got them out of field goal position. Jamar (Watson) really played a good game. Then with J-Dub (Jordan) playing with J.J. it gives us some length and an opportunity to rotate the three of them. They both did some really good things. I thought J.J. lost contain on one play early in the game and I kind of got after him on the sidelines and I love him, he responded in such a good way and played outstanding really, played some really good football the rest of the game. And J.J., a play with him, very similar to J-Dubs, where they tried to reach him and get outside and get out on the perimeter and he is so long and a big, strong guy, and made a tackle for loss. I think all three of those outside linebackers are playing really well.”

On Allen Dailey’s performance vs. Tennessee …

“I was really happy for him, personally, because he has been so unselfish. They’ve worked so hard and he’s been working hard and the opportunities are going to be there. We talk all the time about continuing to have a strong mentality, do what is right and continue to practice hard and play hard and the opportunities are going to come. What are you going to do when you get the opportunity? He certainly made the most of it and made some tough catches in the middle of the field, obviously the touchdown. Happy for him and it definitely helps us.”

On the value of the quality control assistants, especially in a Covid year, with 10 straight SEC games, etc. …

“They are extremely valuable. They all work extremely hard and it is hard to single out any of them. Josh Estes-Waugh has been with me for a long time on the offensive side of the ball, works extremely hard, works with me and gives me ideas individually and just all of them do a great job. On the defensive side of the ball, a guy like Greg Manusky, who has been in the NFL for his whole career. He was a player in the NFL for a long time, he has been a position coach in the NFL for a long time and he has been an NFL defensive coordinator. He just has a great demeanor about him and he works so well with Brad. They have such comfort together and he is a great person to have around. Just his presence, he is one of those guys that brings that demeanor. He is very positive and confident and it is good to have him around and in those meetings. All the guys work extremely hard and fortunate to have a great staff.”

On Kelvin Joseph’s performance the last two weeks …

“I think Kelvin, we all knew what type of talent he has. I think he was really pressing hard early. You have to remember, this was a young man who had to sit out all of last year. So you need to get some game reps. It is one thing to have practice reps under you and there’s another thing to have game reps under you. He really wanted to play well, for himself and for his team. Sometimes when you press too much and try to do things beyond what you are coached to do, bad things happen. That happens all the time. ?Again, it is not for selfish reasons. I am thinking right now about some plays that happened in this game, even up front with our defensive line because they have been getting a lot of pats on the back, well they start trying to do too much and jump around and jump out of gaps and that is not how you are going to play effective football in any area – whether it is offense, defense or special teams. Guys mean well, but sometimes when they don’t do what they are coached to do, they hurt the team and they hurt themselves. I think Kelvin let the game come to him and at that position you are only going to have so many opportunities per game and you have to make the most of it and he has done that the past couple of weeks. He is letting the game come to him, do his job and focus on what he needs to do and good things are going to happen to him. That goes for all of our team. There are plays we need to get ironed out still. We have some guys and again, I don’t think it comes from a selfish place, they want to do well for the team, but when they are doing things they are not coached to do, it is not going to help anybody.”

On his relationship with Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz and quarterback Connor Bazelak …

“Eli, I do not know personally but when I have been around him in our meetings and he is new to the league, everything you hear about him and you can tell by watching and listening to him, seems like a great person and obviously a great coach. He is very creative and gives you a lot of things to look at and puts pressure on you. Obviously, a very good coach and seems like a great guy and what I have been around him I really enjoy being around him. With playing him, it will be a real challenge. With Connor, he has stepped in and gave them the spark that they needed and has the ability to run the offense that Eli wants to run and definitely looked very good. It does not surprise me that he is playing well. We knew him out of high school and he is a great player and great person and he did a very good job.”

On Jamin Davis’ progression …

“It is a great example. For instance, I don’t want to name names, but there are guys on our team right now that I believe will be very good players but when that is, I’m not sure. You have just got to continue to work and develop and worry about yourself. In this day and age, players worry so much what people are saying about them on Twitter, how they are perceived or maybe they didn’t play a good game at all but maybe the ball fell in their lap and something good happened and everybody is patting them on the back, when behind the scenes, it is not happening. Jamin is a great example of a guy that did not play very many quality snaps in his first two years here but continued to work hard and have a positive attitude, do the best he could whether on scout team getting better, with the reps (practice repetitions) that he got, getting better and banking those reps. It is a great example because I have guys on the team that get frustrated and I understand that. Guys want their plays, they want their own and that is not what is best for the team. I like all these guys and I guarantee them an opportunity and that is what they have. Some players get frustrated because they feel like they have to get their snaps when they are not earned. I think he is a great example to continue to work and do things right and when you get the opportunity, make the most of it. I am really happy for Jamin. He is a great example for some young players to keep on doing what is right and eventually you are going to get that shot.”

On how important it is the team focuses in this week on Missouri …

“Absolutely it’s the most important thing. I imagine you all can go back and look but I’m sure I’ve said that every Monday to the media, to our staff and certainly to our team. It’s an odd year. It’s really strange, it’s really different, it’s really hard to play 10 SEC games. Every Monday the coaches get back at it and get back to reality every Sunday morning. We enjoy a victory for less than 24 hours, depending on what time you play, but you enjoy it for a few hours and then it’s back to work Sunday and hit the reset button. For our players, they hear that from me every Monday and you really have to look at it that way, whether it’s a win or whether it’s a loss. You have to get back to it Monday, hit the reset button and there’s a whole new challenge. Again, you want to win that week you have to win today and that’s the truth.”

?On what he saw from the true freshmen that played Saturday in the fourth quarter …

“We saw some talent but we saw some guys that need some work, to be totally honest with you. I believe these guys can help us win SEC football games but they have to put in the work. They have to get some things corrected. We have some talented young guys but they need to really have great weeks of preparation and there’s been too many missed assignments and fundamentally not doing the right things for us to win at a high level. Again, I’m very pleased, I love this group, I love their attitude. I love their willingness to take the coaching and to get better. If you do that then good things are going to happen and I love these young guys, the mentality that they have, but fundamentally we have to get better.”

?On Tennessee letting assistant coach Jimmy Brumbaugh go …

“You know, I’m really disappointed to hear that. I caught word of that yesterday and I wasn’t sure whether that was true or not. I didn’t reach out to friends that I have on that program and I certainly will reach out to Jimmy, though. Jimmy, I do consider a friend, and I know him obviously, personally, from being with me (on the UK staff) and his family and I wish nothing but the best for him. He’s a quality coach, he’s a good coach and he’ll land on his feet with no problem. I have no idea what goes on there and that’s not my business but at some point I will reach out to Jimmy. That’s disappointing.”

?On the team’s winning streak against Missouri …

“See, there’s a perfect example. It means absolutely nothing, right? I mean truthfully, it means nothing. We have to go win this week. So, I don’t even know what the streak is. This is a new staff, a new group and I have no idea what it is because it really means nothing.”

?On the opportunity for Marquan McCall now that Bohanna is out …

“I’m really excited for Marquan because he needs to, he needs to step up. Quite honestly, we need to put that kind of pressure on him and he needs to put that on himself to play at the level that he is capable of and I expect him to do that, I really do. What we really miss, with Josh (Paschal) getting hurt two weeks ago and Q (Bohanna) getting hurt this past week, what was amazing was, and I pointed out to our team, was I just want our team to realize, and certainly if I’m saying this to you all it is truly authentic, but Josh got hurt and all he was doing was worrying about his team. Coaching his team, motivating his team, not sitting in the training room with a towel over his head, icing his knee, pouting about himself. The same with Quinton. He had no idea the severity of his knee injury. It hurt like heck and he definitely hurt some ligaments in his knee. It could have been blown out but he didn’t know at the time. All he was worried about was icing that thing, getting on the sidelines and coaching his team, and motivating his team and worrying about the win. That is the championship mentality that we’re looking for and I love that. That is what we need from a lot of other guys and we have some of that, but I think that’s been the difference in the past couple of weeks, of that type of leadership, that type of motivation and selfless behavior from those guys. That’s something that we want to champion. That’s something we want to continue to build on and most of our team is that way. It’s amazing. That’s why we work so hard to protect that within our program. That’s why we point it out and talk about it and coach it. We want to model that behavior and there’s still selfishness. It’s hard. That’s the way society is, we understand that but we will continue to coach it out of (them). That pull from the top has to be much, much greater than the drag from below because there is some of that and we will continue to work on it and work on the guys at the top to continue to pull and elevate guys up from the middle or from the bottom. I think Q is another great example of that and that leadership that we’re going to miss.”

?On his patience and how important it has been for the football program …

“No, patience is hard to come by in my family. I come by it honestly from my father but, no, I think certainly (wife) Chantel will tell you that I don’t have great patience in my boys at times. But, I think as I get older I’m trying harder and I’m not perfect, we all know that — that’s a joke. I think we try to constantly learn from mistakes and from things we do well. You just try to do the very best you can to put people in a position to make adjustments, alter things and just stick to your guns on the things you firmly believe in that help build you the program. Then there’s other times where you have to be willing to learn and adapt and change and there’s always a very fine line there in trying to do the very best I can to put our team in a position to win.”

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.