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September 27, 2014

Mark Stoops


COACH STOOPS:  All right!  That was a thing of beauty!  (Laughter.)  For a defensive guy, it was!  Very proud of our effort.  It's great to get a victory.  It was nice to see our team fight through adversity.  It wasn't easy, we had to dig in, we knew it wasn't going to be easy and to come away with a victory.
Very proud of the group effort.  Appreciate the great support by our fan base.  We felt it, there was great energy in the stadium today.

Q.  Talk about the beauty of the defensive side.  How much fun that was for you at least on that side of the ball to watch those guys do what they did?
COACH STOOPS:  It was good.  It was a lot of fun.  I felt like the guys played hard, and they played very hungry, like we talked about all week, but we were also on point with things, with different shifts motions, different pressures that we had to audible to certain sets, and we were on the money.  They executed well and played with great desire.  You put that together, and you're always going to have a great chance.  So I felt like it was really good that way.

Q.  Was it surprising to see them play well?
COACH STOOPS:  Well, no, I wouldn't say surprising.  We expect them to play well.  We have a chance to be good in all phases.  We know we're not overwhelmingly great in any phase, but if we play together and all sides play to our capabilities, we have a chance to win a lot of games.  If we don't, then we won't, and that's like a lot of teams.  We have to put it together.  We felt like, you know, we have some ingredients to have a good defense, and I just liked the way they've been preparing, the way they've been practicing and, you know, you have to play "on edge" defense or you'll get embarrassed.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  Well, you have a couple of ingredients and we have a couple of good "D" linemen, and it's good to start with them, and even the inside guys who haven't had much experience played very tough, and doing a very good job inside.  And Bud and "Z" are getting good pressure and doing a lot of good things on the edges.  We're getting better and better at linebacker.  The one long run today, the 28‑yard gain we just got a little eager at linebacker and ran out of our gap, and that comes with that balance of doing too much or too little again, because they present different problems with big sets and for the most part we're on point with that, but we messed that one up.

Q.  Are you continuing to coach 'em up on the intersection?
COACH STOOPS:  Absolutely, been working on that.  But it comes with pressure and it comes with good team defense and we're getting more and more playmakers.  Even Marcus McWilson's was a big play on fourth down, and that was really good for him because that was a little thing that he did within that scheme that made that play.  Those are the details that we need to continue to work on, and it was good for him to have that success, because he's pressuring unless he gets a certain protection, and then he dropped out, and he knocked it down and got the pick, and those are little things that we're executing better.

Q.  Talk about Towles and his ball security, or lack thereof.
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, we got to hold on to it.  That can't happen.  That's frustrating.  We'll get it fixed.  It's‑‑ I could tell, you know, we just got to do a better job of keeping his hands dry.  I could tell he was shaking his hands coming off the field.  They were very wet and we gotta do a better job, and he's gotta do a better protecting the football.  He wasn't getting rid of it as quick as he normally does, even when he wasn't slipping, he was sitting back there a little too long, looking a little too indecisive today, and he was a off a little bit for him, he didn't play as well as he did in the first three games, and that's where other aspects of your team has to step up and help out.  Patrick will play good next week, and he will get those things fixed.

Q.  Mark, talk about the older guys, that had not won an SEC game, how they felt to win an SEC game?
COACH STOOPS:  It meant a lot.  They were excited, because like we talked about in the locker room, things very rarely unfold like the script is supposed to go.
For us, they turned the ball over like that and left a punt late and silly things that we can't do that we gotta get fixed, but to hang in there and win is gratifying for the whole team.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  It did, it did, and certainly when you make a few mistakes and things, the whole group loses confidence, and you have to find another way to win the game.  Sometimes the quarterback, and offensively or defensively, whatever it is, you're not going to be perfect that day, sometimes, so it was good to see the defense step up.

Q.  Coach, happy to get the first SEC win in three years?
COACH STOOPS:  Again, I've only been here one year and one game, so that one year was long!  (Laughter.)  So let's not talk about that anymore!  All right?  I'm proud of the group.  I am proud for the victory, and really for the fans and the people.  I said when I got here in my press conference that it was going to take a big commitment by a lot of people and a lot of people have at bought in, and a lot of people are doing a lot of good things, our fans, our administration and our team, and it feels good to deliver for them, and we hope to continue.  We're also proud of the fact that we played two SEC games this year and gave ourselves a chance to win both.

Q.  You had an expanding role forBoom today.  Do you envision more for him?
COACH STOOPS:  We'll see.  You know what else is great, there were things in there for Boom to get the ball and few of the other backs, and a guy like Jojo wasn't getting the touches early, some of the other guys were.  Early in the season, when maybe some of our freshmen weren't getting the ball, they were mopey, and Jojo was up on that sideline, grinding it out, being a team player, and at the end of the game when we started to go to the direct snap, Wildcat stuff, he had some great runs and that's the kind of maturity we need.  I'm proud of Jojo for that, and there is a lot of other guys but that's just one example of some of the guys being unselfish.

Q.  Mark, is it crazy to think that had a few things gone your way in Gainesville, that you guys could be undefeated going into South Carolina?
COACH STOOPS:  I'mproud that we gave ourselves a chance.  I can't look back.  It's frustrating.  I had two weeks to beat myself up over that one, and that was tough enough, but we have moved on, and I am proud that we gave ourselves a chance to win that game and gives us something to build on as we move forward through the SEC.

Q.  The call on the one‑yard run‑‑
COACH STOOPS:  I made the call to go for it.  I didn't yell that bad call (Laughter.)  We'll get that fix!  I'll get a good play in there next week.

Q.  (Question about special teams.)
COACH STOOPS:  We were motivated.  Coach Naivar did a great job with that unit.  We challenged them all week.  We were going to mix it up a bit, but we were going to kick it deep.  The first kick‑off we shanked it a little bit, we were going deep left right to them, and I thought the cover guys rose to that challenge, because he made a big impact the week before, and our guys were challenged by that, and really were fired up and did a nice job with coverage, and Coach did a nice job just tweaking a few things, but most of it is getting off blocks and just getting to the football.

Q.  Has J.D. Harmon sort of become the leader of that group?
COACH STOOPS:  He's one of them that's in there, he's fired up and willing to help, and it's been good to get him involved more and more.

Q.  Halfway there, with 8 games to go do you let yourself think about a bowl game?
COACH STOOPS:  No, no, no, I'm worried about‑‑ I've got family friends in it will town, worried about tomorrow and getting ready for next week.
No, we've got to get some things fixed and that's part of it.  You know, for our team to think that, you know, we had been playing good and moved the ball pretty well in The Swamp, and then come home and not play as good as we can, and it's a perfect example for our team that things don't go according to script all the time; you just gotta keep on working hard and getting better and our team is realizing that more.

Q.  Does that mean you're not keeping your eyes on SEC east standings?
COACH STOOPS:  If we go one game at a time and do good and prepare, give ourselves an opportunity to win the next game, then we'll worry about the next game after that.  That's been our approach no matter who we're playing.  That's it.

Q.  What challenges does South Carolina pose?
COACH STOOPS:  Coach Spurrier is a fantastic coach that's won a bunch of ball games, always finds ways to move the football, and his teams always play with a lot of confidence and a lot of toughness.  And it will be a real challenge.  He's been there a long time building that program to where they're a contender in the SEC every year, and we'll be up for a real challenge.

Q.  Is this team where you thought it would be at this point, or where you hoped it would be?
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, I'm pleased with the progression.  We're not ‑‑ I've said it over and over again, we are not perfect, we're far from it, we're a work in progress but they really have a good attitude, and they've really prepared.  I say that over and over, but that's where it's done, what are we doing all week to put ourselves in a position to win games.

Q.  Is it fair to say the way you guys played the second half, you would probably lose this game last year?
COACH STOOPS:  Maybe, I don't know, but I think it's safe to say, there was no way anybody on that sideline believed we were going to lose that game.

Q.  The final few minutes were you thinking about the Vandy game last year when they were running out the clock?
COACH STOOPS:  No, not at all.

Q.  What was Patrick like after some of those mistakes, coming back to the huddle?
COACH STOOPS:  It was frustrating to him and he wasn't as sharp as he's been.  I think you all have watched an awful lot of football and you've seen an awful lot of quarterbacks that have been on point and maybe not had their best day and, again it's not always on them, it's protection, it's route running, it's play calling, it's a lot of things.  We can never put all that on the quarterback.  And I think he would be the first to tell you, sometimes the quarterbacks get too much credit and too much blame and there is a lot of ingredients there.
Patrick will bounce back.  He did some good things, I think early on, outside of the pick, he had an awful lot of completions.  I think his percentage in the first half was extremely high through the pick and then the dropped ball.  All in all, there are just a lot of mistakes, even the muffed punt late, that's some things we've got to coach‑up better on that, too.  It's my fault, should have told them to get away from it if it's not a clean, perfect punt, get away from it, because we had to get it away at that point.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  Pardon me?

Q.  On defense, was there a key to the first half?
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, it was a point for us to finish the game.  In all sides we try to do that, but certainly defensively.  We needed to step up and finish.  It was great.  It was a shut out, wasn't it?  We just can't seem to get one, something always going to happen.  (Laughter.)

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  Whatever it takes to get an attitude about them, and I'm never going to put a damper on their enthusiasm, but I'm also never going to lie to 'em either.  I tell them pretty much the way it is.  I like the way they're playing.  I like their attitude, and they mean well, and I've said it, they've got a good heart and they played with a good mind today.  You play with a good mind and a good heart, you got a good chance to play good defense.
Again, we played with great passion but I thought we were pretty smart in most of the things we did today as well.

Q.  Mark, when they were reviewing that touchdown‑‑
COACH STOOPS:  I was worried, yeah, they say it was closed.  Hey, just keep on telling myself‑‑ my wife keeps on telling me, hang in there, they're going to come your way sooner or later.  So maybe she's right.

Q.  Talk about Cole Mosier not starting.
COACH STOOPS:  Cole was banged up throughout the week, so he didn't get to practice reps as he needed to, and he got in there some, but didn't have as many reps, and Nick was doing good things and he was healthy and played well from what I can tell.  I don't know.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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