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October 27, 2014

Mark Stoops

THE MODERATOR:  Here is Coach Stoops.
COACH STOOPS:  Congratulations, John, well deserved, partner.  After watching the film, just like we thought after the game, we did some things very well, and we did some things not so well.
We've got to continue to work.  I think the big thing we need to do is the same thing I've been talking about week after week, a lot of things come down to fund mentally gettin' better.  That's something that really bothers me because it's something I take great pride in as we continue to push forward and develop this program.  We need to be a better fundamental football team.
So the errors in execution, missed assignments, technique, they're all rooted in discipline.  We need to continue to work and get better and push forward.  As I said after the game, very proud of our team's effort.  I thought they were ready to play.  I thought it was a tough week last week.  I didn't want to say that during the week and give them that out, but getting back the week before I thought we were tired and it took a lot to get them emotional and physically ready to play.
They responded.  I thought we played fast and competed well, we just need to do things better and be a better fundamental team.
Give Mississippi State credit, they beat us.  They're a better team.  We'll get back to work this week.  Excited about the opportunity to go to Missouri, a team that's 6‑2, has won a lot of football games the past two years, very well coached, so we need to do better and we will see how we respond.

Q.  Obviously Patrick had a big, big day, talk about that.
COACH STOOPS:  Very pleased with Patrick.  To be critical‑‑ and it is important.  There were some things early that we missed, that he may have been a little too excited or amped up, or whatever it is that we need to start better.  There was a couple plays early that we missed.  Once he settled in, he really did some very good things.  Again, it was great to see him throw some big‑time passes, and I thought he really threw the ball well, threw the deep ball well, put it in some tough spots, and I thought he was extremely tough running the ball as well.

Q.  How much does that give you a chance as a program, once you find that guy, find a quarterback who can raise his level in a big game?
COACH STOOPS:  I think it's very big.  I think you have very little chance with the teams we're competing with without a player there, without a quarterback.  So I think it does give us a chance and, again, it was great to see him get back to really making those big‑time throws and seeing our receivers step up and compete and make some plays for him as well.

Q.  The receivers must have been running good routes, too.
COACH STOOPS:  They were.  We challenged them all week.  Felt like they needed to play better at that position and they did.  They competed hard, ran fast.  You always have a chance when you're doing that and I think, again, that's a trademark of Missouri, especially on both sides of the ball.  I think they play passionately and play very tough and, again, that's what we need to see out of our team all the time and I felt like we responded that way and certainly at wide receiver.

Q.  I think Jabari Jensen had four career tackles for the LSU game.  What kind of story is he as it might be toiling down‑‑
COACH STOOPS:  I think it's a great story for a guy like Jabari a year ago when we first got here and through last year trying to find the right spot for him, and he just hung in there and continues to work and he always has a great attitude.  We felt like, as I said, a couple times, I felt like we needed to get bigger at certain spots, certainly against these last two opponents.  He gave us some size and he's really doing some good things and, again, I just love his attitude and work ethic.  It's what we're looking for in this team in an older guy that continues to work and put his dead down and do the best he can to help his team and he's really making some good plays.

Q.  There were plays that had no gain Saturday.  Is that part of the fundamentals?
COACH STOOPS:  You're saying we had some stops for zero game and then made some big ones?

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, that is and, again, I don't want to take anything away from them.  They had a few individual efforts that were special, and, again, give credit to Dak, because he broke some tackles had a couple runs that were just impressive.  Certainly, yeah, as a defensive coach and as a defense you're never proud of those moments when you miss three, four, five tackles in one play, it's not what you're looking for.
I think there is position on the football, there are certainly things coachingwise that I can do better and we will do better.  Individually techniquewise, just that aggressive play that we need all the time and the consistency of that will come.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, I think, you know, if you look at college football, I don't think any of us want to be judged by one game, one or two games.  So it's hard to play your best in 12 games.  That's just a fact.  I think they didn't play their best, and give Jonathan George credit and that's the game everybody wants to talk about, but that's one game.  Outside of that I thought they've played some very good football this year, there was just a few mistakes in the Indiana game that could have went the other way.  But look at last year, sitting here 6‑2, and they probably feel like us, in that they have not played their best yet.  You know they're a very good team.  They've won, they've been there before, they're an experienced group, especially as a coaching staff.  I know they have some new guys on their roster.

Q.  Neal said after the game Saturday we've got to find a way to get No. 6.  Is that a goal you talk about openly week‑to‑week, get that one more win?
COACH STOOPS:  Well, I think it's really important.  I look at it, you know, because we're sittin' on five.  So six is big because it's the next one.  That's always my message, let's get this next victory, it just happens to be six.  Yeah, sure, it would be nice, I'm not going to deny that, but it's important, it's our next game‑‑ what's important is our next game and that's how we think about it.

Q.  Is it too soon to talk about this?
COACH STOOPS:  I think it's too soon to talk about that, I don't think that's the reason why we need to go get No. 6, even though we know the value in it, I think the reason we need to get number six is because we're sitting on five.

Q.  Do you have a feel for whether you're going to get "Boom" back this week?
COACH STOOPS:  I believe so.  He should be fine.  Let's hope he doesn't have any set‑backs.  He was very close and I don't want to get into all that, technically he probably could have played but we didn't want to.

Q.  What do you see from the running backs?
COACH STOOPS:  It's been like it has been.  Not much has changed.  We need to continue to work some of those guys in.  We had plans last week with Mikel and then he goes in and fumbles the first play and that rattles your confidence a little bit.  We've talked about that, we can't let it.  We need to get him back in there and get him playing and we will.  Mikel has worked his way into the rotation and he needs to get in there.  He needs to get in there this week and we expect Boone to.  Expect to see those guy.

Q.  No. 13, is he that good?
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, obviously he was against us.  He's been against a lot of teams.  They're rushing the ball for, I don't know, what, 275 yards a game or whatever it is.  So they're pretty good.  I think as I talked about all last week, their scheme is difficult, their quarterback is difficult and when you put the tailbacks and the other big, strong guys in, yeah, they make great plays.  That's why they're leading our conference in total offense and up there nationally and No. 1 team in the country.  They deserve it, they beat us.

Q.  Talk about the defense, how much more important is it to get stops?
COACH STOOPS:  I think it's very important to get stops.  We gave ourselves opportunities to get back to even and we didn't convert, so it goes back to team.
It's very important.  If you look at us the last two weeks and I'm not happy with it, I think everybody is going to ask questions about it, when you're talking about the rush game and defending the run, but, again, look at LSU.  Last week when I talked about it, I wasn't losing my mind, sat there and ran for 275 yards against 'Ole Miss, they're pretty darn good up front, they're dominant up front.  LSU is running the ball and playing defense and they're good at running it.  Mississippi State is the same way.  Can we do things better?  Absolutely.  Do we need to, absolutely, starting with me and the coaches and on down to the team, and we will, but they're pretty good.

Q.  Do you think running back issue has more to do with something your backs aren't doing or‑‑
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, that's a big part of it.  We're still trying to be the team that we want to be.  We're not there yet.  We want to be a team that's balanced.  You have to be able to run the ball some, and there are some very good teams the last couple of weeks up front, and, you know, it's not like we're completely inept.  We did have some good runs and just like Mississippi State and as I've talked about all the time with us incorporating that Q‑run game, it's on us as well.

Q.  The sky is falling for a lot of teams with regard to special teams, what's your approach?
COACH STOOPS:  I thought we played outstanding on special teams, 47‑yard net, that's hard to do against a team like that with returns.  The kickoffs were great, the kickoff kicker it was ridiculous how high and how well he kicked the ball so that makes it extremely difficult but across the board I thought the guys responded.  None of us were happy with the week before.  We know that's not acceptable, Coach Naivar knows that and our players but we have all had our moments this year, offense and defense and special teams where we have not done our part.  Special teams responded extremely well, I thought the guys competed and played very good this last week.  Just because a kick didn't go our way, like I said, I don't like those odds no matter who is kicking it or how you're kicking it, and the ball didn't bounce our way on that, you can't blame that on‑‑ that's our fault for being in that situation.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  I was thinking about it, yeah.  Uh‑huh.  I don't know.  I wish I'd have had that opportunity but I was thinking about it yeah.

Q.  Mark, your team is growing, evolving each week, obviously.  In the general sense is there a next step you need to see from this team or more of the same?
COACH STOOPS:  There is, and, again, it's rooted in our discipline and where we're going as a program.  There is no excuses for not doing our job and not being accountable to technique and fundamentals.  I constantly harp on that with our players and our coaches.  It shows up every week.  So we need to continue to grow and get better and, you know, do some routine things better.

Q.  The fundamental work at this point in the season, is it as much mental as physical or more so?
COACH STOOPS:  Yeah, I believe it is.  Because, again, like I said earlier, it gets down to discipline.  That's a choice.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  They are some big guys.  We are workin' that way.  We're a more physical team this year than we were last year and we're going to be a more physical team next year than we are this year.  That's part of building a program and you have to be physical and you have to have some balance within your team.  We're working on that.

Q.  Mark, it's been a long time since this team won a true road game.  What are the secrets?  Is there a secret to getting this team prepared to go win?
COACH STOOPS:  A lot of things comes down to what I talked about with the toughness and the mentality and the discipline that we have because there is no excuses, there is no reason not to play our very best and have that attitude about us.  Nobody is going to hand you over any victories.  You gotta go earn 'em and you gotta win 'em and you got to get on the road and get on the plane with a tough mentality about you, and our players have to play at the highest level they can and that was the message to them yesterday when I met with them.

Q.  When you got done looking at the film can you tell us about a couple of linemen that stood out?
COACH STOOPS:  Melvin did a good job, against a quality center, Bud played extremely well, Darrian Miller has been doing a nice job.  He had one play that stuck out, you know, but, heck, against some good guys but I thought he was battling and doing a nice job.  We need to continue to work and play better inside on the offensive line, but Swindle and Darrian are really playing tough.

Q.  You had two series offensively in the second half where you were down 7, it was third and long, any reason why what happened, happened?
COACH STOOPS:  As you know we're not very good behind the chains.  So when we don't convert on first down‑‑ and I think that's something that Neal has done an excellent job when our offense is moving the ball, having some drive starters and getting some things to get us it going.  When we get goin', get our tempo goin' and get a good rhythm about us, we're‑‑ we play extremely well.  If we're in predictable situations, not so well.

Q.  Mark, I'm not sure if you are aware or saw the telecast but the national people were raving about you and showed some film clips.
COACH STOOPS:  I didn't.

Q.  The fact that you played well against a big audience like that, how does that help you down the road?
COACH STOOPS:  I hope it does.  I didn't know that or hear that or anything, but I felt like everybody has been pretty fair with us all year.  As you play better and if we continue‑‑ like I said a few times, if we win some games and continue to win we'll put ourselves in a position ‑‑ Coach Crop, now, just 'cuz you're a Hall of Famer!  (Laughter.)
We continue to win and put ourselves in a position to play in bigger games, the attention will come to the program.  We just have to do our part.

Q.  What stands out about Boggs?
COACH STOOPS:  I think he's a guy that has a great feel for the game.  He can throw the football and he I think he does a very good job of buying time, having that feel in the pocket and making plays when they they'd to.  He's just a very good player, obviously, as opposed to a year ago they lost some big wide receivers so they're younger but I still think they're just very good and well coached.  They really want to be balanced.  They're almost dead even again running pass, so he's just a good football player.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS:  He does and that's been their staple the last couple years.  They have two "D" ends again this year, Shane and Marcus, but last year, you know, as well, I thought they were really disruptive and that's what they do and that's what I remember about them from playing in person last year and, again, seeing that on film, I know Coach Steckel, their defensive coordinator does a great job and that whole defensive staff has been together for a while.  They're disruptive, they do a nice job of creating negative yardage plays and being disruptive up front and twisting and stuntin' and just playin' hard.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.
COACH STOOPS:  Thank you.

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