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UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 22, 2014
MARK STOOPS:¬† First of all, happy holidays to all of you.¬† It's good to see you.¬† I've really missed you guys.¬† (Laughter.)¬† It's been a long break, and I really have missed you.¬† But no, it's good to talk to you.
You know, going back to the season, I think the last time we spoke was right after the wrap‑up there at Louisville.¬† Tough finish, tough game there, but again, proud of our team's effort.¬† I thought we really competed hard in that game, and really throughout the year.¬† If you just look at our season in its entirety and through recruiting and some of the things, had an opportunity to go back and watch some of the things that we've done.¬† As I talked about post‑Louisville, I felt like our team really did improve.¬† We did a lot of good things.¬† Really disappointed that we didn't make enough strides to make some critical plays in critical games, or we'd be working right now, and that's the goal, to be working here through the holidays.
Of course we are, but no practice time, so really miss that opportunity.¬† It's honestly been a little bit difficult to see the kickoff of the bowl season the other day and to sit there and watch it with us not being a part of it.
That part of it is frustrating, and disappointing to myself, but again, I'm very optimistic about the future.¬† I feel really good about our team, the way they compete, the way they're trying to do things right.¬† Recruiting is going exceptionally well once again, so all things are very, very, very bright future for us and our program as we move forward.¬† I feel very good about that.
Our players, once we got back from the weekend of the last game, we went right to work.¬† We didn't want to waste three weeks of opportunity to get in that weight room and to get busy working out and get busy physically preparing for the future.
The guys had a great attitude, went right back to work.¬† We kicked it up a notch, and we've got to continue to do that.¬† And that's really what I'm most proud about.¬† I feel like our players really have gotten to the point where they know what our expectations are.¬† They understand when they walk in the weight room, all the little things.¬† Coach Edmond does a phenomenal job, and really the tone has been set for these two years.¬† The guys know what we expect.¬† They walk in there prepared and ready to work and really look forward to that work, and it's very, very difficult.
I think that's the next phase that we're in.¬† As soon as our players get back from this break, they'll go right into the weight room and work exceptionally hard.¬† We will wrap up recruiting, and then we'll get into some of our what we call fourth quarter drills and things like that where we get into some winter conditioning, and once again, we need to continue to amp up that work.¬† Our players physically need to get bigger and stronger.¬† We need to continue to recruit bigger and stronger players.¬† That will be the next phase, and I have no reason to believe anything except our players will come back and work extremely hard and continue to put the foundation in place and the toughness and the work ethic and the discipline in place in this off‑season so when we get in those situations next year we can make some critical plays down the stretch to win some of those close games.
It starts that early.¬† That's the phase we'll be in when we report back, and really look forward to that to be honest with you.
We'll wrap it up in January with recruiting, and again, expect to have another great class.¬† All signs are pointing towards a very good class.¬† Our coaches have worked extremely hard to put ourselves in a position to close down the stretch and then really look forward to getting back with our players and getting to work to get this program moving forward to get better.
You know, disappointed to lose Neal Brown, but as I mentioned, I'm very proud of Neal and very happy for him and his wife Brooke and his family to move on and be a head coach.¬† There's nothing selfish about me and what I try to do with our coaches.¬† I don't want anything but the best for them, any coach that moves on and has an opportunity to put himself in a better situation and move forward as a head coach.¬† We wish Neal nothing but the best.¬† Really appreciate Neal and the hard work that he's done.
It was good for me coming in here with the Kentucky ties and not knowing a whole heck of a lot about the culture and the people and the history and things like that when I took this job a couple years ago.¬† It was really good to have Neal with me.¬† He really has a great feel for the state.¬† He's really recruited the state exceptionally well, and helped me bridge some relationships here throughout the state with coaches and people and so on and so forth, and I really think Neal worked extremely hard with our team and with our offense.
I really appreciate him and thank him for all the hard work he's done.¬† He has a great work ethic about him, and he'll go on and be a great head coach.¬† I hate to see him go, but with that, you know, we're always at that point.
And also Craig Naivar.¬† Coach Naivar is going to move on and take a job at the University of Houston, where a lot of his roots are from, where he really has a great reputation as a recruiter in the Houston area, and again, I really appreciate Coach Naivar and the hard work that he did in one year.¬† So we wish him the best, as well.
With that, we gave the release the other day of Shannon Dawson from West Virginia, the offensive coordinator at West Virginia.¬† Very excited to have Shannon in our program.¬† He's a guy‑‑ you know, I think a lot of you, just people throughout the state and all of our fan base and players and everybody obviously had a great interest in what direction we were going to go with the offensive coordinator.¬† I think that goes back to the roots of this program and having a quality offense and having a guy that can move the football.
I thought it was very important after Neal got that job, I really took a step back, took my time, and really evaluated what we did the first two years, where we were going as an offense and as a program, clearly defined what I wanted in a coach and in an offensive coordinator and what direction I wanted to go, and then set out to find that guy, because as you get going in this position, I think right now even as compared to two years ago, it was really amazing to see the interest in this position.
There was quite a few people and very, very qualified people that had interest in our job, and I think once again, that's a credit to many people in our program and the direction that we're going, the commitment and all the things that you hear me talk about quite often with our administration, with the stadium, with the complex, and with the growth of our program, we're getting out there, and that was evident by the people that approached me about the offensive coordinator position.
Once again, I really took my time, evaluated to find what I wanted, and set out to find that person rather than just get all kinds of great people with great credentials and then try to change what we're doing and so on and so forth, and what direction I wanted to go.
With that, that led me to Shannon, and could not be more happy with that hire.¬† I think the more and more research I did, the more and more I talked to him, it was evident that he was exactly what we're looking for here at Kentucky to lead our offense.¬† Very, very proud to have him.
I know quite a few people that have crossed paths with Shannon, both defensively and guys that have worked with him, guys that I know and trust an awful lot in this business, guys that I believe in and know, are very close to, and everybody had nothing but great things to say about Shannon.
I also think it's kind of unique that some of his roots go back to Coach Mumme in the days of‑‑ it all goes back, right?¬† And that's really‑‑ I didn't even really realize that until we were far into the process, but I think it is kind of unique that what I'm looking for and what we're trying to be here offensively, a lot of it does tie into the culture and to the history of this program.¬† Very proud to have Shannon.
With the other position, once again, I'm taking my time.¬† There's no rush on that.¬† You know, as things, as the dust settles throughout college football and pro football and things like that, there's a lot of movement, and I'm just taking my time.¬† Once again, there's an awful lot of qualified people that are interested in that position, and I'll take my time and do a lot of research and find the right person to help us move forward here in the program.
I guess I'll open it up for questions at this time.
Q.¬† As you did that evaluation of the offense, what made you decide that you wanted to definitively stick with the air‑raid style, and what was it about your commitment to that style?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I'm not ready to define that as air‑raid, okay?¬† Maybe I did when I walked in and they asked me, and I said, sure.¬† I've got to talk to our marketing people about that.¬† (Laughter.)
You know, I don't know whether I'm ready to put‑‑ to label it that way, and to be honest with you, I haven't even talked to Shannon about that.¬† He's busy getting ready for the game and things like that.¬† But I don't know if that's fair.¬† Things evolve constantly.¬† We change in our business.¬† Obviously it was important for me to keep that continuity, but I think you hear me use the word evolve an awful lot, as well.¬† So we're constantly trying to get better and put our players in a position to be successful in all phases.
But it is true; it's the same system, however you want to define it.¬† It's very similar.¬† I think it's‑‑ you know, it's interesting, I talked to‑‑ I don't know if I can give you a clear answer on that.¬† There's things that draw me back to it.¬† A lot of it has to do with attitude.¬† I think a lot of these guys from this tree going back to Coach Mumme, Coach Leach and all the people that have been under them and part of that tree since then, they have a great confidence about them that I like, that they need to bring to our offensive team and to our whole football team.
And then it has to do with defending some things within the offense.¬† When they're really rolling and doing things right, the offense is very difficult to defend.¬† I think as you see different people through this tree take it and tweak it in different ways and use their little change‑ups, if you will, and there's some guys that have evolved in the run game that I like, that I think you have to have some balance.¬† You know, you've heard me talk about it all the time, and people may wonder where I'm going all the time with balance and things like that, but the bottom line is I believe to compete in this conference you have to be physical.¬† You have to have some balance.
You know, we're never going to become a great defense unless we practice against some physicality every day, and you can't‑‑ listen, I think we need to be unique.¬† I think we need to have some nuances and some creativity to move the football for where we're at, but I also think it comes down to some basic principles of football that you have to have, and that's what I love about Shannon and what I think him and Dana have done at West Virginia is they've really run the ball very well and have some physicality about them but still are throwing the heck out of the ball and still very creative with the way they're doing things.
I also think, going back to your question, what I like about this style and some of these guys, is there's some simplicity about it, as well.¬† It looks very complex at times, but I think simplicity is very important and continuity is very important as you're dealing with college kids and where we're at.¬† You know, as I said in my statement, I feel like we've made some progress, some very good progress, and I think Neal and the offensive staff have done a great job these first two years, and I really didn't want to take a step back and have an offensive coordinator come in and teach four coaches a complete new system and an entire offense.¬† So that was important.
Q.¬† What were your conversations with Shannon about his role at West Virginia and calling plays and that situation with how he worked with Dana?
MARK STOOPS:¬† I'll keep that between myself and Shannon.¬† You know, there's no mystery that Dana is a great offensive mind and a great coach, and that's what I like about it.¬† That's what I like, the fact that Shannon was so close to Dana and been with him not only these four years at West Virginia but their history goes back some time.¬† I have no worries about him putting it together and calling plays.¬† I'm very close with Clint Trickett, as well.¬† As you know, I worked with his father at Florida State and Clint was at Florida State when I was there, and Clint is like a coach.¬† He's going to be a coach, and he's a guy that grew up in the business, and I had conversations with Clint, as well.¬† He was injured down the stretch here, and he's on the headsets during games, and he's also in the meetings when Shannon is coming in and addressing the team and things like that.¬† I have complete confidence in the way he'll lead the team and the way he'll call plays.
Q.¬† In West Virginia, it seemed like Dana there sort of adapted the air‑raid to fit his personnel.¬† Their percentage pass to run went down a little each year as maybe he had a really good running back in Sims a couple years ago.¬† How much did that appeal to you, and especially from the standpoint that maybe West Virginia and Kentucky are similar in that respect as far as how they have to recruit and that sort of thing?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I think it's very important, you know, the way they've evolved, whether because of personnel or the way they wanted the offense to go.¬† I think there's probably a little bit of both in that.¬† You know, so it played a big role in what I was looking for and where I wanted to go.¬† Yeah, it was important to be able to run the ball.
Q.¬† Of everything you like about Shannon, what's the number one thing above all that you liked about him the best?
MARK STOOPS:¬† I think the number one thing that stood out to me was his leadership.¬† You know, there's several guys that I talked‑‑ all the guys that I talked to had outstanding leadership ability.¬† You have to.¬† You have to, to come in‑‑ I think if you ask him when he gets here, I'm sure one of the things that appealed to him about coming here was working for a defensive coach because, you know, sink or swim, here's the keys, you do it.¬† Sink or swim.¬† That's what it was like when I went to Florida State, and I wanted it that way.¬† It was either get it done or get fired, and that's what my situation was going to be.
You know, so I think that's important for guys that are on the rise, guys that want to make a name for themselves and become a head coach someday, so I think with Shannon, it goes down to all the experience he had, with the leadership.¬† You asked me, the most important thing was leadership, but other things I really liked about him was I felt like he's always done more with less.¬† I like the way he's worked his way up the profession.¬† I like the way he grinded from a young coach and really made a name for himself, working with Hal Mumme, the roots of his system.¬† I think the way he's evolved, he'd be the first to tell you and he told me, Coach, we wouldn't have this conversation if I was the same as I was two, three years ago, four years ago, when he was just throwing around.¬† If he didn't evolve, I wouldn't have been talking to him about coming and leading our offense.
You know, and I think all coaches, all the great coaches, I think we all realize that we don't have all the answers and we're constantly searching to put our team in a position to be successful, so I just like the way he grew up through the system and really made a name for himself at small colleges and been successful all the way back with Hal and then went on his own to go to Millsaps and lead that offense, and he really led a great turnaround there.¬† Again, it was sink or swim for him there, at a small college.¬† The same deal, he went and ran it, changed the offense.
Goes to Stephen F. Austin, they were not very successful offensively the year before he got there.¬† He goes there, and by the time he leaves they were very successful and put themselves in a position to win some championships, and then he goes on with Dana, again, who I have great respect for, and I feel like just has evolved.¬† So those are some things.
Q.¬† You've mentioned evolution a number of times.¬† Where do you see this evolving to?¬† Do you want to be more of a smashmouth team five years from now?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Well, I don't know‑‑ no, I don't think‑‑ I don't know if we‑‑ first of all, I don't know five years from now.¬† We'll see where things go.¬† If all of a sudden we start rolling guys in there that are 6'8", 330, and we get a whole bunch of them and a bunch of big backs, then maybe we will.¬† We'll see where the game goes.¬† But no, they still are, what, eighth or ninth in throwing the ball?¬† Ninth in the country in throwing the ball.¬† They throw the ball for 314 yards a game or something to that effect, so obviously they throw the ball.¬† They're running a bunch of plays, and again, that's what Neal and all of us‑‑ that's what we're trying to get to, and that's what we improved.¬† We ran more plays than we did in year one, and we will run more plays next year I would think, as we evolve as an offense.
But they ran the ball for 44 yards a game, and really if you look at yards per carry, it was very similar to ours.¬† I think they just had more plays.¬† The bottom line is if you have to defend the run game, it's going to open things up in the pass game.¬† The more effective you are in the run game, it'll open things up in the pass game.
Believe me, I think‑‑ I don't know.¬† You'd have to ask Dana and all that, but he knows a thing or two about offense, and when you're defending people, it's very difficult if they can do both.¬† Ask my brothers and other people that have to defend some of these offenses, West Virginia, Baylor, people like that, they run the heck out of the ball if you're giving it to them.
They're very effective at running the ball, even out of the spread, and that's what I want to look like.¬† I want to threaten people and make them accountable to stopping the run game.¬† If you don't, really you're not going to win a lot of games.
Q.¬† On the recruiting trail, what kind of feedback are you getting from recruits about the offense in terms of really wanting to become a part of it based off of last season?¬† The scoring, maybe the type of offense it is, what are you hearing?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I think kids are very excited about the offense.¬† They see us growing, they see us improving.¬† We're getting a lot better.¬† If you look at our‑‑ even in the run game, if you look at our yards per carry with just the running backs, take out quarterback runs or sacks and things like that, as we break things down, yards per carry with running backs, we were actually reasonably successful at that.¬† We're creating some space.¬† We've just got to continue to evolve and continue to improve and run more plays and threaten more people and get more dangerous outside and run the ball more effectively, the whole deal, you know, things that you see.¬† But we did some things well at times, we just weren't as consistent as we need to be.
But the recruits are very excited about it because the bottom line is it's a fun offense to be a part of.¬† We certainly throw the ball.¬† We will continue to throw the ball and improve in that area, but we will have some balance, because again, you've heard me say it, I don't think anybody is denying that you know that I want to run the ball.
Q.¬† If recovery goes as well as could be expected, do you think Timmons will be physically good to go for spring?
MARK STOOPS:¬† No, I don't think he'll be good to go for spring.¬† I don't even know, did we give out a second release?¬† He had a shoulder done, too.¬† I don't know if I even told you that.¬† He had his ankle done first, and then he had to have his shoulder.¬† And that's another thing that‑‑ you know, we don't sit there and make excuses, but Ryan was playing very banged up, and I appreciate his effort.¬† We all know there's things that he can do better and will do better, but he really competed all year through some pretty major injuries, so I appreciate his effort.
Q.¬† How important was that Louisville game in terms of setting a tone going into the off‑season, as disappointing as it was to lose it, just the competitiveness you showed versus say if it had ended after Tennessee?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I agree with that.¬† It was very important, because I felt all along, and as I was talking to y'all leading through that season, and I said it afterwards, there's no doubt I was concerned, because again, if we just‑‑ physically, mentally we were trying, we just weren't very good down the stretch there.¬† And once we did have that opportunity to get some rest, to get a little bit healed up, and that's just‑‑ once again, that's just where we were at.¬† We weren't quite good enough.¬† We weren't quite physical enough.¬† We weren't prepared enough mentally and physically to endure that type of season against the opponents that we play.¬† That's where we're at.
But you know what, that's going to make us that much better as we move forward and tougher and deeper and all the things we need to be, but it was important.¬† It was, because it was a tough stretch down there, and we weren't‑‑ it wasn't our best football.¬† To come out in that game and to play with that type of passion, that type of energy, and to be as committed as we were, it was fun to be a part of it.¬† It was fun to bring some attitude and some competitiveness to a rivalry, so hopefully that'll help us as we move forward.
Q.¬† There's that adage about improvement from year one to year two.¬† Now that you have perspective, where did you see the most improvement in your team overall, and as a follow‑up, could you talk about Patrick's development through the year?¬† He had his ups and downs and struggles late.
MARK STOOPS:¬† I felt like we were overall much more competitive. ¬†There are games throughout that season that didn't play out the way we wanted to, that we weren't very competitive.¬† We did not play very well, we did not coach very well, and we were disappointed in.¬† We all know some of those games.¬† The good news is really there was about three or four in there as opposed to eight or nine, so I feel like we were more competitive.¬† We're getting closer.
You know, I think that the fire and the energy and that passion that we started with, we need to build on that and get more physical.¬† We need to get deeper, keep on developing guys in our program that we can finish the second half of the season like we did the first half.
Q.¬† I asked you about Patrick's development through the year.
MARK STOOPS:¬† Patrick, again, I'm proud of Patrick's effort.¬† He was not as consistent as he needed to be.¬† He knows that.¬† That comes from experience.¬† That comes from a lot of things.¬† That comes from players around him, the balance that we're talking about.¬† But he gave us a chance to do some things that we were obviously working towards and going to a bowl game and things like that, and he gave us an opportunity to do that.¬† Obviously there was some disappointments in there, as well, and it's a tough position to play.¬† Quarterback comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of leadership, and there's a lot of people counting on that position playing well.¬† I think he did a lot of good things, and I appreciate him and his effort, and he'll continue to become more consistent.
Q.¬† With Bob's familiarity with Shannon Dawson, how much did you confer with him in terms of making your decision, helping make your decision?
MARK STOOPS:¬† A little.¬† A little.¬† Not too much.¬† A little with Bob, obviously some with my brother Mike, guys that they play against and guys that they know exactly how they're attacking them and such.¬† So I did consult with them a little bit, as well as another gentleman on their staff that I'm very close with that knew him, as well, Bill Bedenbaugh, the O‑line coach at Oklahoma and I are very close, and he knows some of these guys very well.¬† So it was good to consult.
And that's the good thing about being in the business.¬† I've been in the business for some time and have a lot of contacts throughout the business from just my brothers and all the places I've been.¬† It's pretty easy for me to poke around and check with a lot of people and really get a good read on guys.
Q.¬† How do you see the defense?¬† You lose a lot of guys up front.¬† How would you analyze the defense now going into this third year?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, as a defense we were inconsistent.¬† We were just too inconsistent.¬† We did some very good things and created some big plays, gave ourselves some chances, but that's what I talked about throughout the year, really, that was part of our issues is not putting it all together on both sides.¬† We were just where we were at.¬† We were too inconsistent on all sides in the game.¬† I think when you lose guys like Bud, he's a tough guy to replace.¬† I don't know if you can.
I think you hopefully get better all around him and continue to improve your team.¬† I think Denzil Ware is a guy that I'm awfully excited about.¬† He's the guy that I'm going to lean on.¬† I'm not saying a redshirt freshman could come in and replace Bud because that's not going to happen, but he's got that kind of ability.¬† He's a special player.¬† He's dynamic.¬† He can rush, he can drop, he's explosive, and he's going to be a great football player.¬† When, I don't know.¬† We've got to continue to work on him and push him.¬† But those are some of the guys that you kind of look towards.
Q.¬† Now that the semester is over, do you know anything about any potential transfers, and what is the status of Mike Edwards right now?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, Mike Edwards will be good to go.¬† I'm not sure about spring to be honest with you.¬† I don't know how that works.¬† But he's in our program.¬† He's working, and he had a good semester academically, and he'll be good to go.¬† Let me get some more information on spring.
Q.¬† Do you know of any potential transfers or anything like that, or is it too early for that?
MARK STOOPS:¬† I'm trying to think if there's anything confirmed with me.¬† No, nothing that I know of right now.
Q.¬† You talked about Patrick's progress. ¬†Does bringing a new offensive coordinator reset the quarterback position or how is the competition going to work?
MARK STOOPS:¬† I think you heard me say that, I thought I talked about it before, but I want to set it up with saying, it's always the case where we open up all positions, so I don't want somebody to all of a sudden take my quotes and misconstrue it and say I'm doing something different with the quarterback position.¬† All positions are open.¬† Nobody is given anything.¬† Year to year, week to week, I think you saw the changes we made throughout the season.¬† If guys aren't performing, they'll get replaced.¬† That's the way it goes.
As we head into the off‑season and we head into spring, all positions are open.¬† Obviously some guys that have done some good things for us and earned the right to be in there from day one as the starters, then they'll go in there and start.¬† But they'd better continue to play well, or they will be replaced.¬† That's no different at quarterback.¬† Again, you heard me say it, I'm very proud of Patrick.¬† I appreciate his effort.¬† But I also go out and recruit guys and bring them in here and tell them they have every opportunity to win the job every day, and that's going to be the case as we go into spring.
Q.¬† Did anybody else have surgery and anybody else maybe not going to be around in spring that you can tell us?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, let me think here.¬† Fred Tiller, Regie Meant both had surgeries, and Charles Walker.¬† They had surgery last week and are healing up right now, and they will miss spring.
Q.¬† Speaking of injuries, depth is something you've been trying to build since you got here.¬† You were able to redshirt quite a few players, but how did that go as far as this year and as far as building more depth, because you're obviously going to need that.
MARK STOOPS:¬† Well, we were better than we were in year one, and I believe we'll be better next year than we were this year.¬† There's no other way around it, just continue to build your program, continue to recruit good players, and get the guys you have better.¬† That's a daily process for us.
Q.¬† You say you weren't aware of Shannon's ties to Hal, I guess, early on in this process.¬† Once you did kind of know about that, did you reach out to Hal at all, and what was kind of his thoughts on Shannon?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I have great respect for Hal, and he's close with some of my family and different people, but I never had the opportunity‑‑ I didn't reach out.¬† I didn't need to at that point.¬† I was moving in that direction anyway.¬† But I will.¬† I read some of his quotes afterwards and things like that.¬† I will talk to Hal here.
Q.¬† Do you know where Coach Dawson will recruit yet and how he'll be able to help you in that?
MARK STOOPS:¬† No, we'll work through all that.¬† The good news is we've got a good team of recruiters, as you know, guys that work very hard and do a good job.¬† He'll just continue to help us there.
Q.¬† Were you surprised, flattered, annoyed or something else that your name surfaced in the Michigan talks?
MARK STOOPS:¬† You know, I'm unsure how to answer that.¬† I mean, I wasn't concerned at all because I knew what I was doing here and what I wanted to do and will continue to do.¬† You know, I have very little experience with that, you know, so I see some of these other coaches‑‑ I hope that's an issue as we move forward because we want to win a bunch of games here.¬† We all do.¬† You know, I made some pretty strong statements when I was awarded that contract extension, and I don't say those things lightly.¬† But I also see some of these old vets and how they handle that situation.¬† Let's hope I have to deal with that as we move forward.¬† But I think I'm going to take Harbaugh or some of these other guys that say I'm just going to talk about this job.¬† I don't know what else you can do.¬† I'm very committed.¬† I'm very appreciative, and I'm very loyal.¬† I've said those things before, and everybody has been so good to me and what we're doing here and this whole program and very committed.¬† I really am excited about continuing to build this program and really move it forward.
Q.¬† On defense, I know you tweaked some things this year because of Bud and trying to take advantage of his talents and use him in different ways.¬† Do you expect to do that with other people this coming year, or will you go back to more of what you did maybe the first year, or is that something you're going to look at in the spring?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I think we're really getting a good understanding of who we are completely and where we're going.¬† I think you've heard me say it, and you go back to year one, and you just‑‑ you feel like you're doing anything to help you win a game, and you just kind of throw a whole bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks.¬† That's a bad feeling.¬† (Laughter.)¬† That's tough.
But you're just trying to find ways, whether it's offensively to move the ball, or defensively to stop some people because you're not quite where you want to be physically to compete with some people.
Year two, we're better physically, and I wholeheartedly believe that you have to be very clearly defined on who you are in order to move forward.¬† But there's still always some balance there in trying to find the right slot where you're at and what that tipping point is on both sides of the ball.¬† I feel very good.¬† I feel like we can settle in and know who we want to be defensively and as we move forward.
Yeah, we'll continue to do a lot of the things that we've done, but we'll also hone in on some things.
Q.¬† Regarding your other staff opening, will that lean more towards special teams, safeties, or kind of be a hybrid like you had?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I'm still working my way through that to be honest with you.¬† I would really like to bring in as much defensive experience as we can get.¬† I think if you just look around this league, and some things that are going on now and guys that I'm talking to and different things, different hires, it's serious business.¬† There's guys hiring an awful lot of good football coaches.¬† You look at certain staffs, and there's two or three coordinator types on each side of the ball, and really that's what you have to get to.
I want the best football coach I can get.
Q.¬† Regarding current players and redshirts, what do you expect to be looking for and to get at linebacker this spring?
MARK STOOPS:¬† Yeah, I think Ryan Flanagan really showed great progress and great promise, and I think he's going to really help us.¬† He athletically did some very good things.¬† And Josh really made some improvement.¬† He's really starting to do some really good things and be more consistent, so that helped us.
We'll continue to bring some guys along, some of the redshirt guys.¬† We need to continue to build depth and move some guys around, see what we can do.
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