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October 4, 2014

Mark Stoops


COACH MARK STOOPS:  It feels good.  It's hard to describe how much pride you feel for the team, just for everybody in our organization.
You know to fight back through that adversity.  To start down 14 points, what were we down in the fourth, 10 or 14 in the fourth?  So, you know, it just felt uphill the whole game.  Felt frustrating, felt like an uphill climb the whole game.
We talked about that before we went out that obviously it's going to start one of two ways.  We're either going to start fast or face some adversity.  And either way we were prepared for it.
And either way, there was a bunch of guys on that team in that locker room that were very united, that were going to stick together, and we were going to fight our way through that adversity.
That's a very good football team.¬† Coach Spurrier, I have so much respect for offensively, and he went to some‑‑ not different things, because he's run all those sets before.¬† But he featured them and kept us out and kept us really off balance.¬† And it was very frustrating.
That's why he's a Hall of Fame coach and won an awful lot of football games.  He took us out of some of the things we have been doing well.  I don't know, maybe his quarterback was banged up a little bit throughout the week, whatever, they went to bigger sets, they just did a nice job.
He coached‑‑ it was very frustrating from a defensive point of view.¬† So to fight through all that and to come up with the big stops late and the special teams and the offense and the defense, just the whole group, it was truly a team win.
You know, it was one of the special atmospheres that I've been in because of what it means to this program, because of how far we've had to dig ourselves out of the hole.  And guys have worked so hard and there's been total commitment from so many people that I mention all the time, from the fans, administration, and to our players.
I thank everybody for the great atmosphere and the great support and the commitment to our program.¬† We always feel great‑‑ we feel the urgency to put a great product on the field.¬† We're getting there.¬† We're getting better and better.¬† We're not where we want to be.¬† We can still play a lot better.
There's a lot more in our tank, and we'll continue to try to do our very best.  But for tonight, again, just have great respect for South Carolina, Coach Spurrier and that program.  And we're trying to build a program that everybody's very proud of.  So I thank you.
JoJo, so proud of JoJo.  I think that was, other than some special guests we have sometimes when we honor somebody, that was the first game ball I gave out tonight.
Called JoJo up and gave him a game ball.  Because just sheer determination that he had.  He put the team on his back.  He was trying to come out of the game once.  I said:  That's it; no more.  You stay in there, grind it out.  And he did.
And he really dug deep.  And our offensive line did a great job.  Neil did a great job keeping them off balance.  And it was just special to see him grind it out like that and make those big plays.

Q.  Not many teams can get down 14 twice and come back and win the game.  How do you guys stay focused when you get down like that?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  I think it happens by everything that we do in the program, all offseason, everything we do day to day.  And we're far from perfect.
But I hope you all know that it's not just lip service.  We work extremely hard to develop character in our program.  And again we're not where we want to be.  We all make mistakes.  We're not perfect.
But that's why.  That's how.  Just the work that they do in the offseason and the leadership program that we're trying to develop and making strides in and just everything that we do.  But the team is very united and they've shown some real toughness.

Q.  At the end, what did you see defensively there?
COACH MARK STOOPS:¬† Just somebody batted it up.¬† I saw it floating up in the air.¬† Felt like it was up there for five minutes.¬† I was hoping somebody would run underneath it.¬† I saw Bud get it‑‑ it was Bud, right?¬† Yeah.

Q.  (Indiscernible) scored all five touchdowns out of the Wildcats?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  Did we really?

Q.  Coming in, did you know that was going to be a huge part of the plan, what you developed there?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  I think just what South Carolina and Coach Spurrier were doing, they were doing some things to us that were very hard that we were having a hard time finding an answer.
And I think it's always that old cliché, you're going to scratch where it itches.  If you can't get it stopped, you're going to keep on doing it.
We had a hard time defending certain sets from them that we've got to do a better job, and we will.  But we did make some and we did get some stops.
And it was the same way with us.  We'll run that package, and we have several plays off of it.  And if they're not stopping it, we're going to keep grinding it out.

Q.  What did you say to the defense after South Carolina had driven those three touchdown drives to go up 14 in the fourth quarter?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  I can't say that in here.  (Laughter).  I mean it.

Q.  Did you tell them to turn it around?
COACH MARK STOOPS:¬† We've gotta do a better job, I've gotta do a better job‑‑ we've got to have some answers.¬† And we maybe didn't have as many answers as we needed to out of certain sets and certain personnel groupings.¬† And we've gotta do a better job.
And there were some things that‑‑ and I was really getting angry because I give credit where credit is due.¬† They did some really good things and there's some things we need to play better.¬† Quit looking around for guys to make plays; you make a play.¬† That's where I started challenging them.¬† That's where I had enough.¬† Quit looking around.¬† Quit looking for a call.¬† Somebody dig in and make a play.

Q.¬† What was the locker room like after the game, did you acknowledge‑‑
COACH MARK STOOPS:  No, we just jumped up and down.  I'm done with the dancing.  But it was a lot of fun.  Guys were celebrating.  And I think very grateful for each other and the team that we have and where we're going.
There's a lot of pride in there.  Again, we're far from where we need to be.  But I'm just proud of the strides that we have made.

Q.  Any emotional reaction?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  Yeah,  sure.  I did.  I mean, not so much in there.  But it was an emotional night, frustrating night.  Like I said, I don't want to get into it all again.  The way we started, the way they were moving the ball, grinding it back, then they go ahead and all that.  So it was an emotional day.

Q.  (Question about Josh)
COACH MARK STOOPS:¬† I'm not sure.¬† I couldn't tell a lot of things.¬† I usually generally‑‑ things stick in my mind are mistakes.¬† I don't want to put all that out there right now.¬† But he always does some good things.
And I think he made a few mistakes here and there.  But we all did, all of us.

Q.¬† Big third and three.¬† You were down seven, I don't remember exactly how much time was left, but you stopped them there.¬† Were you surprised at all they went away from the run?¬† Their three and they‑‑
COACH MARK STOOPS:¬† And they threw it.¬† No.¬† I really‑‑ I remember the play.¬† But I can't remember the situation.¬† I think we had a few stops and started to slow them down some, getting them some better stops.

Q.  What do you think tonight does for your program?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  I think it meant a lot.  I think it's a big step.  And we're very grateful for it.  And as I just told them, I really want them to dig down, and there's a lot more in there for us.  We could play better.  And we can all do our job better.  But very grateful for the effort.

Q.  For a program that hasn't had a lot of success, how do they win a game like this?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  Again, it's gotta go back to everybody in the organization.  I have a lot of good people that, excellent coaches, everybody in our building, everybody in our program is very united and has one goal and really works well together.  And the players see that.  And the players are the same.
So there's a lot of good people that have helped us get to that point.  And we're 4 and 1 and that feels good and really want to enjoy this, and they should.  It was a great night for our program, for our fans and for everybody.  And really want to deliver more and get better.

Q.  Where would this defense be without A.J.?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  Not as good.  Not as good.  He's a very good football player and very good instincts.  So we're glad we have him.

Q.¬† You said you wanted to see what this place would look like when‑‑ what was it like?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  I have a lot of family and friends in town.  And a lot of them have been to a lot of our games all over, whether it be Oklahoma or Air Force and all these places, and they commented on it.  And I felt like that.  It was as good of energy as any place I've been.
And I just wish we could have‑‑ we quit going down 14 because it kind of deflated us a little bit, but then we brought them all back.¬† I thought it was great energy all night.

Q.  Is this the first time you've been through this as a head coach?  Can you make a stab at it?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  It's hard.  It's really hard to put into words.  I think just I feel very proud of the whole group and all the work that we put in.  And it was emotional.  I felt overwhelmed at times when I was on that field.  It happened so quick.
I was frustrated a lot of the night.  But just very grateful, I think, is the thing that comes to mind and appreciate the guys in that locker room.

Q.  We talked a lot about turning the corner.  Do you feel like this team turned a corner tonight?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  If we go out and win next week and take care of business, I think we do.  I mean that.  That's the thing in this business, you've got seven days to be humbled.  And then we'll keep that in mind and really appreciate and respect all wins and then try to get back to work and really play a quality game next week.

Q.  Not to downplay Monroe, but do you feel you're ready for a break in SEC play?
COACH MARK STOOPS:  We can't even attempt to think that way against Monroe because they'll beat our butts.  They've won a lot of football games and are well coached.  It's not even going to enter our mind.  It's not easy.  It is what it is.
You have to dig down and do what you can do to get your rest and the guys gotta be back and ready to practice.  That's how you become a successful program and not just have these ups and downs.

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