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September 26, 2015

Mark Stoops

Lexington, Kentucky

Missouri - 13
Kentucky - 21

COACH STOOPS: Obviously a very big victory for us. I'm very proud of the team. Like I told them just a moment ago, it was just very gratifying to win a game like that against such a quality opponent in a hard fought SEC football game.

Just like all games we'll play, there's good and bad that happens throughout the course of the game. You got to be able to overcome it, make plays at the end of the game to win. And just very proud.

Felt like the players really been telling you for the past couple weeks I thought that the guys were really focused and really starting to grow and practice with a better attitude and a better sense of urgency, more consistently, we're getting better.

So, much like a week ago, we were put in a situation where you needed to make some plays. It was nice to do it tonight. We were on the wrong end a week ago, but we have been in a bunch of close football games this year and came out with three victories. So, proud of that.

Very great football team. Very well coached, have a lot of respect for them and what they do. And they win a lot of games. Winning the SEC East two years in a row, and they never seem to lose on the road.

And just a very good football team. And we knew it was going to be a hard fought game and just proud of the complete effort by our team. It's really -- you ask me specific questions right now and it's really like a blur to me, to be honest with you.

I know Patrick had a good game which was good to see, but it was such a team effort.

Again, defensively, I think we really had some good stops. That's a good team that was getting first downs and moving the ball on us at times, but we came up with some critical stops again to give us a chance to hang in there and until we got going offensively. So, I'll leave it there for questions.

Q. Where do you put this victory?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I'm not going to say that. It's very important, because where we want to go, and we feel like we're -- we have got a better football team. We're not there yet. We're just getting better and better.

You got to have guys make plays in critical situations to start growing and winning and winning consistently. So, I would never say it's a must win because I know we're getting better as a program. I know we're building a program here. And we're recruiting the right guys and our coaches are working hard and good things are happening.

I just really want it for the -- for everybody that's done so much. And we know we're getting there. And most importantly those players that are celebrating in that lock room right now.

But for everybody that's done so much, you want to deliver, you heard me say that before. We got a lot of excitement going in our program right now, and I want to keep on bringing the people back. I want this energy and I want this excitement and I want to continue to grow.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: I think I'll let you guys write about that. But I've seen enough of it where, yeah, I mean it's hard to argue that, so, I know that my first two plus years that it was difficult.

I just think that even your -- when the margin for error's always small. So, we're a better football team so we could overcome some things now. So I do think belief is part of that. In making plays, when the game's on the line. And so I think that, yeah, I agree with you to some extent, and I think that as we get better, you can overcome some bad things.

Q. First and 29 at your own game. You go boom, boom, boom and go down the field and get that score.
COACH STOOPS: I just thought it was really -- I thought it was good to see us get in attack mode and make plays when the game was on the line. And we'll grow from that, for sure. That's a confidence builder, and we know we're capable of it. But to go do it in pressure situations is very critical.

Q. To be able to walk out of here tonight with a victory like this. All three teams played well. Can you comment on that?
COACH STOOPS: That's right. That's exactly right. And again, that's what I was trying to say. Just what you're so proud of is just a complete game and just such a tough football game against a good team. And it's nice to come out on the right end of that, of feeling like you're playing a game, you're always a couple plays away and we're fortunate to be on the right end of the stick tonight.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: I really didn't. I didn't. I really just -- I don't like to get involved with that. I just told him -- I really didn't say much. Just go do what he does every day. Give him support and give him a pat on the back, and I really want to make sure I don't hinder the play caller and the quarterback.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Just, yeah, I was telling the team in there that I'm pretty stingy with game balls, but I think he deserved one tonight. Yeah. 22-27, two 2 T D's, so I gave him a game ball. So, yeah, I thought he played a really good game and made some really good plays with his feet and was aggressive down the stretch.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, that was part of it with some of the guys you heard Shannon talk about it and myself, with the guys just playing.

We don't need guys to go be supermen. We just need to go be who they are. We have a good team, and they just need to go play within themselves.

So, I think we just talked about that with him, about just calming down. Then he goes and gets that penalty -- he didn't even know he got the penalty, so, that's that, I guess.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: I think that two games. Well, last couple games I think we have done a nice job. Coach Eliot -- I mentioned it last week -- he really had a good plan and some things are coming together for us and guys are really playing hard and it's the same way.

You know, I challenged the team early in the week on Monday that I just wanted us to play with relentless effort. I know that stuck out to me last year when we went to Missouri, that I felt like they played harder than us. And I was adamant about not letting that happen again.

I thought both teams played very hard, but defensively it's about team defense and being on the same page and communicating and playing with a great sense of urgency. And I think we're doing some really good things, but there's a lot of things we could do better.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: I do. I do feel like we kept them uncomfortable. I do. I think we mixed it up enough and, hey, they're good. They got us some and we were getting some first downs and it's tough, but I do feel like we had some things that were keeping them a little off balance.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think that we need guys to win some one on one's and get some pressures at times and some sacks just luck other teams do against us.

So, I think having Jason back and having Ryan back it was certainly helpful.

And we're getting more and more depth. We're trying to play more and more guys to build or our depth and build for our program and as you get better you feel more and more comfortable getting some other guys in.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we have to, as you know. We have to. I think that's a big improvement from a week ago. We made the plays tonight down the field and, as a defensive guy, that's always tough. You're getting up there and getting in your face and making it hard for you to run the ball, and then you get some shots down -- I know, as a defensive play caller for all those years, you get defenses on their heels and you get them thinking about it. They have to pick their spots, too. So, I know that coach Dawson did a very good job of staying aggressive and really we were happy about that. He was happy about that.

But Patrick -- and, you know, it's not going to be perfect week-to-week, but we have a great staff that really puts good plans in place and, again, I think we stayed aggressive and made plays and that's what you have to do if you want to be a good football team. And I think, even though I keep on going back to it, but what I'm proud about is, even a week ago, we didn't play our best and we had an opportunity to win the game. And that's a sign that you're getting to be a better team.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Critical. Critical. Absolutely critical. Because there was some tough runs in there. What did we end up with? But, you know, when we were grinding it out, not getting some, but at the end of every victory we got some critical runs. That's a big part of -- that's how you win close games.

If you're not able to do that, you would lose more than half of them. And that's where we're getting better. I think that's a big part of why I hired Shannon. Because you have to have some balance. If you don't have balance, you're not going to win these type of games right here.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: I just think that our guys need to understand that one game it's going to be maybe be this guy is hot or different things and he again just made some tough runs and I don't know why it was Jojo, you'll have to ask Shannon or those guys or what, but he had some good to tough runs. And he's running some of these gap schemes that we run. He runs some of the gap schemes better, you know, the power. So, he had some good tough runs.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, I think that you saw it. Everybody was wondering when he was going to break out of his shell. So it was good to see him -- that's one thing I told Shannon that, you know -- no, I'm kidding, but yeah, it was good to see him make some catches. Yeah, C.J.'s been a good player. We knew it would come. Just a matter of when.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: No. Oh, yeah, it is. Because what's happening is, if you have threats outside, then you have to protect those guys sometimes. Then you either have to run the ball or get somebody down the middle. So it's good to have them.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, is that what he had? Is that right? Yeah, it was good. It was a great effort by him, obviously. I would have to watch the tape, but very proud of him and the whole group. All right. Thank you.

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