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UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 9, 2013
THE MODERATOR:¬† Some football announcements.¬† Of course, I'm sure you saw the news release yesterday.¬† Za'Darius Smith was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week by the website collegesportsmadness.com.¬† Another honor has come in today.¬† Kevin Mitchell has been named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week.¬† Grade out at 90 percent before the game, nine knockdown blocks, no sacks or penalties in this game.
Something you can do to help out the fans, if you would remind them we're asking folks to arrive early with it being a noon game, expecting a big crowd.¬† Just ask folks to get there early so they can get in their seat on time for the game.
At this point, we'll turn it over to Coach Stoops.
COACH STOOPS:¬† Excited about this week.¬† It's going to be a great challenge.¬† Obviously, we know Louisville has done a great job, very good on both sides of the ball, well coached.¬† So it will be a real challenge.¬† We're looking forward to it.
Just looking to improve.¬† I thought we made some strides last week to improve our team, and we're looking to do the same thing against this week.
Q.¬† Mark, what's the against Teddy Bridgewater?
COACH STOOPS:¬† He's just very good at what he does.¬† He has a great feel in the pocket.¬† He eludes the pressure when and where he needs to, and the rest of the time he sits in there and distributes the football.¬† But he's very athletic, and he's very live.¬† He's just very fast.¬† He's very quick with everything he does.¬† Very, very good delivery and gets the ball there in a hurry.¬† Again, he eludes the pressure when he has to.
Q.¬† Two quarterbacks, you actually rotated them fast and furious all throughout the game.¬† Neal said he did most of that on sort of gut instinct.¬† [ No microphone ].¬† What did you think of how that rotation went?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I liked it.¬† I liked it.¬† I think Neal had a great feel for it, and it may be what the quarterbacks needed as well.¬† Just eliminate a little bit of pressure from them, and they both have their strengths, like we said, and our offense has some good packages with both of them.
Obviously, our offense can run the same with a good percentage of it with either quarterback, but then they each have their strengths as well.
Q.¬† When you talk about the limitations you have and how much of an equalizer is it for the element of surprise, the curveball of having guys do two different things and coming at you with such a pace?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I do think it helps with that pace like you talked about.¬† The tempo in general is difficult at times, if you're executing.¬† And that's the big thing is execution.
We've talked a lot about that and not getting behind the chains and all those good things.¬† So it still comes down to just executing well.
Q.¬† With Jonathan coming in here, you talked to us about emphasizing the basics of football, [ No microphone ].¬† One of those things.¬† Kind of what you would like him emphasizing and talking about?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, like I said early on, we know it's important.¬† It's very important to myself, this team, our program, the fans, and everybody.¬† It's very important.¬† But we'll be in a lot of big games here, we hope.¬† As we improve this program and keep on making those steps and getting better and better, we'll be in a lot of big games in the SEC.
Q.¬† Going up against them, does the athleticism benefit them?
COACH STOOPS:¬† It will.¬† It helps in certain ways.¬† It does help with how quick they are, you know, getting out of the pocket.¬† It could help.¬† We don't go ‑‑ we do go against them, but it's not that much during the game week.¬† But we will.
Again, we'll go against them seven‑on‑seven, which there will be no rush, and in team periods as well for about 12 to 15 plays a day.
Q.¬† Where are you guys focusing on [ No microphone ]?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I think we're getting better.¬† We're in decent shape.¬† There's no complaints.¬† I think everybody is a little bit banged up.
Q.¬† Coach, penalty‑wise, how do you go about fixing that during the week?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Just keep on stressing it.¬† There's‑‑ we've got to get some of it cleaned up.¬† Some of it, we're trying to be more aggressive, but that doesn't mean lose your sense and do silly things out there.¬† We're not good enough to overcome bad decisions.¬† So keep on working on that.
Q.¬† What does the Louisville running game look like?
COACH STOOPS:¬† They're good.¬† They're physical.¬† Their O‑line is good.¬† That's what‑‑ you know, you start watching their team in depth, they're good across the board, they really are.
I think they do a nice job of keeping you off balance.¬† They run it.¬† They threaten you with their run game, and they love taking their shots and their play actions off it because they're very skilled at wide receiver, and Bridgewater does a heck of a job with the play fakes and getting the ball down the field.
That's always‑‑ from a defensive coach through all the years‑‑ and I get all the defensive questions as I've been a defensive coordinator‑‑ always the teams that threaten you are balanced.¬† You know, the teams that can pound it and run the ball and have a physicality about them, and then they're skilled outside, can throw the ball and distribute the ball down the field as well.
So that's what they do.¬† They put you in a run/pass conflict all the time.¬† Again, they're good at what they do.
Q.¬† How do you feel you match up against Damian Copeland and DeVante Parker?
COACH STOOPS:¬† It will be a touch matchup.¬† It's tough on a lot of people.¬† I'm sitting here watching film of last year.¬† Again, they put you in that conflict.¬† If them make you play with numbers, they can hurt you outside, and they do it to a lot of people.¬† They're pretty skilled.
Q.¬† [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS:¬† I mean, I don't know what‑‑ over the years, I don't know, but I'm just looking at what they do there.¬† I see them very balanced and very talented.¬† Like I said, just the things I just said, when they make you account for the run game, it opens things up.
Q.¬† [ No microphone ].¬† On the line you changed your defense, did that maybe do you a favor and help you along in assignments, small versus going on your own?
COACH STOOPS:¬† It did in that regard.¬† It let us play a little bit simpler and line up and play.¬† I think you can see we played a little bit more confident, a little bit more physical, and I think it helped in certain ways.
Q.¬† Why do you think [ No microphone ]?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I think you'd like to‑‑ I think in a perfect world with one quarterback, he gets in there and gets in the flow and gets the continuity going and the leadership and all those things that come with it.
Q.¬† Are there times‑‑ do you remember a time when you had two quarterbacks that really gave you headaches in preparation?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I can't think of one right off the top of my head.¬† Obviously, just watching quarterbacks that have had success, and Coach Spurrier through the years, he's been successful.¬† I've heard him saybefore ‑‑ I don't remember the exact words, but if you have to do it, you have to do it.¬† That's just the situation we're in.
Q.¬† [ No microphone ]?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Pardon me?¬† This last game, did you say?¬† Well, it did help.¬† I think any time you could start and get some wins and have some success and play a lot of guys and let them get in there and get their feet wet, it helps an awful lot.¬† So I hope‑‑ I hope we continue to grow.
I had a good feeling we would improve between week one and week two, and I hope we improve the same amount between week two and week three.
Q.¬† What's the biggest difference between Bud and Za'Darius and what they were able to do this week versus last week?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Obviously, we‑‑ they were a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more stout.¬† We talked about those things last week, about not doing too much, do your job, do your job well.
We took the one play at a time mentality, and we've got to continue to do that.¬† We need to execute each and every down the best we can.
Q.¬† Mark, when you were at FSU, the winner of the FSU‑Florida game, did that impact recruiting?¬† Do you think this game will impact recruiting both in the state and other places?
COACH STOOPS:¬† It didn't impact recruiting at Florida State‑Florida, it really didn't.¬† A lot of our guys were committed before that game, to be honest with you.¬† I don't know whether it will impact recruiting or not.¬† I really don't know.¬† We have quite a few guys committed.¬† I think they do too.
Q.¬† The players were saying that you guys were tougher on the pass this last week.¬† I assume that's[ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, absolutely.¬† It's just accountability.¬† We're all accountable.¬† That's just it, not getting ahead of ourselves.¬† We need to improve this week.¬† We need to get better today. ¬†We need to watch the film, correct our mistakes from this past Saturday, and move on.
Again, get better.¬† Get better with each rep, and making them more accountable to their actions.
Q.¬† Neal said along those lines maybe week one or leading up to week one, he was too worried about ‑‑
COACH STOOPS:¬† Confidence.
Q.¬† ‑‑ coaching the guys up and giving them confidence, making them [ No microphone ].¬† Is that one of the things you learn as a coaching staff is how to deal with your guys?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, absolutely.¬† I think it's always easier to have a tougher week this week.¬† They thought last week was tough.¬† We'll be more tough this week.
So it's always better to be harder on them after a win.¬† You know, and, again, I said that after week one. ¬†Somebody mentioned it to me that one of the kids said they were overconfident or whatnot.¬† That's just silly to me because we have such a long way to go.
But that's where we're at.¬† You have to educate them on everything, and that's your job to stay on them.¬† Just‑‑ again, just have them improve and understand the accountability that comes with it and the discipline that comes with it.
Q.¬† Mark, did having [ No microphone ] hurt your special teams?
COACH STOOPS:¬† It did.
Q.¬† How much can you improve the gap[ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS:¬† I think we need to improve a great deal, and I think we will.¬† I think we will be very clear on our rules on the‑‑ you know, the basics of when to field the ball and when not to.¬† Of course, I fully anticipate getting a lot of that ironed out.
Q.¬† The first year‑‑
COACH STOOPS:¬† Obviously, just as a coach, growing up watching it, you know it was a rivalry, obviously, just from watching TV.¬† So that would probably be the first time.
Q.¬† Did you know Charlie Strong?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I've known Charlie for a while, yeah.¬† I can't recall the first time we crossed paths or whatnot, but just being defensive guys, and I have a lot of respect for Charlie and what he's done and have known him for a while.
Q.¬† How did your center [ No microphone ]?¬† How did he play center?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I thought he did a nice job.¬† We were pleased.¬† I told you after the game we made that decision last week, and we're going to continue to go with that.¬† I think he's got an opportunity to grow in that position and take it over, be a good player for us.
Q.¬† [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS:¬† He did a good job.¬† He really did.¬† He just tweaked‑‑ he got rolled up, nothing major.¬† He'll be fine.¬† We were pleased with him.¬† We thought he did a nice job.
Q.¬† Do you think you'll have DeMarco back this week?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I'm not sure yet.¬† I really don't know.
Q.¬† How are you feeling about your secondary now versus a couple weeks ago?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Big test this week, but I do feel like we're getting better in the secondary.¬† The guys are working much harder.¬† You know, I think Cody will be back full speed this week, which will help.¬† He was ready to go last week in an emergency situation.¬† He was ready to go if we needed him.
I think he should be healthy and ready to go.¬† That will help give us a little bit of depth.¬† I think Nate is getting his legs underneath him, starting to get in shape and playing better.¬† So I think we're improving there.
And Fred, I think, has been working hard and technique‑wise and just being more aggressive and working harder to understand the game.¬† I've been pleased, yeah.
Q.¬† After a big win like Saturday, it's always red roses and sunshine.¬† What kind of points will you make to improve this week?
COACH STOOPS:¬† The big thing is discipline.¬† The presnap penalties, the foolish penalties after we make a play, obviously, we can't afford.¬† But just execution.¬† We were still rough in our execution at times.¬† So there's plenty of things to improve on.
Q.¬† Coach, do you think it's going to take big plays to beat them, or do you think, if you execute your offense the way you could, you can control the pocket in time of possession and beat them that way?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I think it's going to take a complete game.¬† They're a very good team.¬† They're a top ten team for a reason, and we'll need to play good on all three sides to win these games.¬† To beat quality teams, you have to play good in all areas.¬† Yeah, I think that's what it will take.
I think execution‑‑ and part of our offense is that.¬† Execute, execute, and then get a big play.¬† And the same thing defensively, we need to be much better than we were in week one, for instance, at the basics.¬† You know, and then we have to have our change‑ups and all that, but we just have to be better at the basics of the game, and that's position on the football, tackling, all the things we've talked about.
Q.¬† Talk about being realistic and understanding how long this road's going to be, as you try to build this thing, how important is it to try to steal these kinds of games [ No microphone ] and in year one, find a way to win one?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, we really don't look at it that way, but obviously, any win is important.¬† Last week's win was important.¬† This is our next game, and that's always our approach.¬† It's boring, but it is.¬† It's our next game, and that's our approach.¬† We're going to approach it the exact same way we approach any other game.
We're not going to look at this game any differently at all.¬† We know it's important.¬† We will practice with that urgency.¬† We will coach with that urgency.¬† But it's the next game up, and we're looking to get better each and every day.¬† So we need to have a good Monday to get us in position to get the week started.
Q.¬† The players said they didn't think you would try to downplay the rivalry in college as just another game.¬† Is that your strategy?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, again, our players need to understand that every week is important, and we will be very systematic in our approach.¬† But I'm never going to shy away from a big game and a rivalry, let's put it that way.¬† We know it's important.
We've also learned from week one too, trying to get them hyped up and amped up maybe wasn't the answer.¬† We have to go about our business to prepare to win.
Q.¬† As you watch game footage of Teddy, does any other quarterback you've seen come to mind?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Yeah, that's a great question.
Again, I don't know.¬† I hate to be quoted on that.¬† He's just‑‑ he's darn good.¬† He's just a very good player.¬† You just see a guy who's very confident, like I said.¬† I think you watch the games‑‑ and we watched the films, of course, and all that, but you could bring pressure, and he eludes it.¬† He's so fast and so patient.¬† He doesn't hurry anything.
He plays fast without being in a hurry, if that makes sense.¬† He's very cool, and he's got a very live arm and can throw‑‑ he can make any throw.¬† You could just see the confidence in him the more he's played.
They're a very veteran team, though.¬† Again, I've talked about that in here, and I think he'll tell you the same thing.¬† He's very‑‑ they're very good all around him, and they have a strong line.¬† They have great backs.¬† They have good wide receivers‑‑ I mean, great wide receivers.¬† So they really are.¬† They're very talented across the board.
Q.¬† How did you guys become so much more effective on third down?¬† You go from worst in the country to No.2 this season.
COACH STOOPS:¬† It's only two games, so we'll see.¬† We've been very good to places that I've been in the past on third down, and we need to continue to build our third down package.¬† I think we'll get better as we go.
Q.¬† Is it because you emphasize it so much?
COACH STOOPS:¬† I think it's a big part of it.¬† It's a big part of it.¬† You know, I went back‑‑ I don't know, just my last stop after year one and looked at the areas where I thought we could drastically improve, and I thought that was one.
It kind of gets into that same mentality of here it's like, okay, you've got to teach them the basics and then be able to build on your package.¬† That's always the fine line, I think, early on in a program, how much can they take in and how fast and how well can they execute it?
Again, we can design hundreds of things.¬† You've just got to be able to play.¬† So that's where the fine line comes in.
Q.¬† Talk about Louisville's offense, with a veteran defense.¬† Do you know their coordinator at all [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS:¬† No.¬† They're a very‑‑ one thing that jumps out at you right away, they play very confident and very hard.¬† Any defensive coordinator, that's the biggest compliment you can give somebody.¬† When they turn on the film and they see a bunch of guys running around playing hard and playing fast, that's a compliment.¬† That's the biggest compliment I could give them is that they play hard, they play fast, they play confident.
They're versatile.¬† They're much like I've been in that four down.¬† They could get into some three down stuff.¬† They could mix it up, and they don't pressure a good bit.¬† But they're multiple.
Q.¬† Ben, he's from that Florida area as well.¬† What kind of interaction[ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS:¬† I really don't know.¬† I really don't.
Q.¬† You keep talking about how well balanced Louisville is.¬† Can you kind ofdo one dimension ‑‑
COACH STOOPS:¬† Pardon me?¬† I'm sorry.
Q.¬† You shut down the run game and yet they prospered anyway.
COACH STOOPS:¬† I think some of that's by choice.¬† You're loading up and picking your poison, doing some things that they could‑‑ some of those throws were like runs to them in alignments and how they were playing them.¬† So believe me, they could run the ball when they want to.
Again, it's a‑‑ you know, that's football.¬† That's good coaching.¬† From both sides, you're always trying to be strategic in where and when and how you're playing things.¬† But it's a simple numbers game to them a good bit.¬† So you get numbers, and they're throwing it, and they're taking easy throws in the bubbles and just different things to complement their run game.
Q.¬† The challenge is sounds like you can't fix it?
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, they make it difficult because, again, going back to my original statement, as being a defensive coach for a long time and DC for a long time, anybody that can make you play with numbers, make you bring guys in the box, and they're talented outside puts you in a problem, puts you in a bind, and I think they do a nice job with that.
Q.¬† Looking at the changes to the defensive side, how did you think they played?
COACH STOOPS:¬† They played much better.¬† They played much better.¬† Again, I was proud of some things we saw Saturday that we didn't have much practice at that just systematically we played right, and the guys were more disciplined, like we talked about going into the game.
Q.¬† Do you have any sort of fears they might go back to the way they were in Western because it's a rivalry game.
COACH STOOPS:¬† Yes.
Q.¬† How do you feel‑‑
COACH STOOPS:¬† Sure, I think there's always that, but I think it was a valuable lesson.¬† Again, we're not anywhere near to where we need to be, but I think we made such improvement that our guys are conscientious enough, and that's our job to coach them that way to get them to continue to build, to continue to move forward and doing their job.
But, yeah, I think there's always a fear of some of that, but we'll see.¬† I think we'll‑‑ you know, we'll be looking for that and coaching for that all week to just, again, just prepare.¬† All's I ask them to do is prepare every day the best they can.
Q.¬† Mark, after the game Saturday, Neal was sort of imploring the fans to fill up Commonwealth this week.
COACH STOOPS:¬† Well, of course.¬† I would expect us to have a full house.¬† I would anticipate there will be no tickets by the end of the week.¬† Our fans have not disappointed us yet.¬† So, sure, I'll throw out a challenge to get them there.¬† We need them there.
And then it's our job to go deliver and play well.¬† I think you'll see us prepared to play a great game this week, and you're going to see a team that's excited about this opportunity.
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