LEXINGTON, Ky. At his weekly Monday news conference Mark Stoops said he thought his team did some good things against Florida.
COACH STOOPS: Just wrapping up the Florida game, after watching the film, I really did think we did some good things. I thought our players played extremely hard on both sides of the ball. The thing about that game is it went so quick, our offense only had seven possessions, and that goes to both sides; offense not getting first downs and defense letting them drive it too much, so limited possessions there.
But I thought we did keep them off balance, moved the ball pretty good. Defensively, I thought we did some good things as well. I felt like we were a little more stout in the run game. I was worried about that going into the game. Their primary play is the power and the counter and I thought our players played fairly well.
There were some things obviously we need to do better. They hit us on a long run, but outside of that long run we made them work for their yards and did some pretty good things, like I said, the overall fight was pretty good. We know there are a lot of things we need to get corrected.
With the quarterback situation we need to continue to evaluate that, both guys struggled at times Saturday, that had to do with a great Florida defense and us not executing but we will continue to look at that situation as we go forward.
Looking ahead to South Carolina. It's going to be another great challenge, really looking forward to going down there, playing at South Carolina, we know it's a real challenge. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Steve) Spurrier. I've known him for a long time, his son, Steve, Jr., so it will be a big challenge but we're looking forward to it.
Q. Did you guys figure out what happened with Jojo (Kemp) …
COACH STOOPS: Yes, it was. The bottom line was we had 10 runs from the running back position. Part of that was schemed to get some runs on the perimeter, which I actually thought we had some good success, they're well designed plays and we were getting the ball to the perimeter and getting some yards on that. I think when you go back and look at the film we certainly could have run the ball more with the running backs inside, because we actually had some decent success. When you have four yards and five yards against that defense that's a successful running play.
And Jojo with the 10, 11 yard run and so on, but we only had 50 snaps or 47 snaps. So with Jojo, some specialty plays, Raymond’s (Sanders) better. Some plays doesn't matter which back is in, it could be a fake and then 10 running plays with the running backs, Jojo got three, Ray got five and Dyshawn (Mobley) got two. So I think we could all look at the film and wish we had 70 snaps but we didn't. So I think that goes to a lot of things we need to do better, we need to coach better, we need to give 'em the ball a little bit more.
But I think for a variety of reasons it worked out that way.
Q. Coach, when you see a game like last Saturday, someone sitting at home might say, ‘We haven’t gotten better we just lost to Florida again.’ Do you see that incremental improvement every week that you are looking for?
COACH STOOPS: We did, we did some good things, we really did. I know I may set myself up for the shots or whatever, I can't worry about all that, all I'm worried about is getting better every day. I thought our players did a good job, I really do. Our coaches did a good job after being very frustrated after the game and during the game.
I was just like everybody, I was frustrated. You go in Sunday and start nitpicking everything that we do and making sure that we're doing everything we can to be successful. I thought we gave ourselves some chances, I really did. We need to do things better, we know that. Take the first drive, for instance, they take the ball and go 93 yards in almost, what, eight minutes or whatever it is, and that's frustrating as a defensive guy.
The good news is, again, some of the base run plays that we need to improve on defending or you're never going to be good, we improved. We had 'em the one that crushes me is the third down, the third and long. They executed. We had been very good on third and long situations, and that was actually my fault. I called the pressure, and it was a complement off some other things we had been doing in the first three games, and it wasn't good to empty, so it didn't work out. That's on me. Those are the ones that frustrate you.
So, again, you look at all those things the game goes fast with seven, eight possessions and that's where we can't afford to miss our opportunities, you know? Florida made the most of it, they scored, got ahead and kept control of the game that way. That's the way it went.
Q. (Question regarding the offense scripting plays to start the game.)
COACH STOOPS: Yes, we scripted. We always script the opening of the game unless it's third and short, and then he has options. But like Neal (Brown) said, we had been struggling on third and short so you see that with a lot of offenses in football right now, third and two is hard to get sometimes against that defense.
Q. South Carolina was down 10-0 at halftime and then they come out in the second half and try to grind it with (the running game) do you expect them to do a lot of the same thing Saturday?
COACH STOOPS: I do. I think they will change a little. I think Connor Shaw had a little more experience and you saw more of the gun, running game stuff with the quarterback run game. I think we will still see that, but I do expect them to be on their center a little bit more as well and run it. Like I said, I think if you just look at us as a program, you know, as a defensive guy, if you can't stop power running teams in this league you got zero chance to win. So I think we're making some improvement.
You have to, at the core of your team you have to be able to defend some of that stuff and we're not there yet, but I think we're getting better.
Q. Mark, early on you said something about the locker room being beaten down a little bit. Were you concerned at all about this stretch of games?
COACH STOOPS: Yes, I would be concerned about that. When I went up and put on the film Sunday I was pleased with the effort. I was pleased with the effort on offense and on defense and on special teams.
That's a big part of it. You have to give it everything you got or, again, you have no chance. I felt like our players worked hard and fought hard. We're by no means perfect, we know there are a lot of things we need to clean up and get better at. That was a good indication and, again, that's what I told them after the game, I was looking forward to Monday, let's get back to work on Monday and get better.
I believe that's what we need to do and that's what we need to focus on. Nobody likes to lose and go through tough stretches and y'all have been sitting here interviewing people for a long time and you probably heard all the same answers and all that, and it's not fun for anybody involved, but for us it's back to work.
I'm enjoying preparing this team and getting better in the process that we're in right now. It's a real challenge, but, you know, win or lose, it's back to work and we're on to South Carolina, and we're going to give it the best chance we can to win.
Q. Mark, when you talk about quarterbacks, should we anticipate the same thing as we have seen in past weeks – switching it up?
COACH STOOPS: No, we would like to get to one, we really would. Last week was unique with Max being banged up, he missed the entire bye week, he threw the ball extremely well last week in practice, looked very good in so, you know, we're in a little bit of a quandary right now, with what to do. I think we're going to try to give it to one person, give him the reps and see what he can do. I think we need to do that. It has not been clear cut at this point, it would be reckless for us to name one guy at this point because nobody has taken the job and we're going to evaluate it this week and see where we're at.
Q. Is that the hope, though, that one of those guys steps up and takes ownership?
COACH STOOPS: Yes, yes, it is.
Q. Mark, would it be fair to say you are restless with these guys not (stepping up and taking ownership of the position)?
COACH STOOPS: Yes, I think we need to take one of these guys to take our team.
Q. What's the biggest factor?
COACH STOOPS: Consistency, just playing. We will tailor our offense to do whatever we (have) to do to help us move the ball to win games. We just need the best player to come forward and be consistent and give us a chance to win.
Q. Mark, is there any way to prepare all these freshmen you're playing for an SEC road game other than throw them out there and see what they can do?
COACH STOOPS: That's it. Throw 'em to the wolves (laughter). No, they've been in some games now, and I thought our young wide receivers fought hard against a good secondary, but look at the things we did well, the fighting, the blocking, the things that we evaluate closely. I was pleased with the fight in our team, I really was. Hey, again, when you lose 24 7, you can say it is what it is, but if it was the other way around, I would say the same thing. If I thought our team laid down or didn't play well, I would tell you that as well.
Q. Mark, against Florida you saw a lot of three-step drops. I’m assuming it was to protect their QB. Do you anticipate more of that this week and how do you create pressure?
COACH STOOPS: They do a nice job. Of course they made it quarterback friendly in that game, but you can do that when you are as physical as they are. Like I said, going into that game everything was set up around that. If you're not big and stout and can play certain games against them, they'll embarrass you in a different way.
And it was frustrating for us. Anytime you have the long drive and keeping the ball away from us, it is frustrating, and that's what they like to do, and the game goes quick that way. But they were helping the quarterback be successful, but he made some good plays, too, just like the third down he got hit, he took a tremendous shot, the guy was scot-free to him, and he took a shot and still delivered it.
Q. What can you do about that
COACH STOOPS: Of course we need to tighten up, everybody knows that, yeah, we could tighten up, and we could also give up 57 yard touchdown passes, too. We'll play as tight as we can play. It's not like I forgot how to do that (laughter). Again, I don't need to remind you, do I? Nobody in the country had more 3 and outs than us a year ago.
Q. (Question regarding South Carolina’s defense being better than Florida’s.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, that's hard for me to say "better" they're all good. I said last week the respect that I had for Florida's defense with the defensive ends and the front four, those guys are really good players. You know, Jadeveon (Clowney) is arguably one of the best players at any position in the country and he gets an awful lot of attention and he deserves it.
Q. (Question regarding if you have to sell out to stop Clowney.)
COACH STOOPS: You know, you really do. I don't know if Jadeveon has the stats that he had a year ago, I never compared them, but he gets an awful lot of attention and he deserves it. If you don't know where he's at and pay attention to him with doubles and slides and things like that, you can be hurt in a hurry.
Q. Coach, looking forward to this week, without giving us the game plan, how can you attack this South Carolina team and what can they expect to see from us?
COACH STOOPS: Well, we've got to execute routine plays, we've got to do a better job. Going back to last week we only had 7 possessions, three of them we had 'em off balance. We couldn't finish the drives all the time. But we had some opportunities to score some points, and three of them we had 'em off balance, and we had three, three-and-outs that will hurt in you a game like that, and an interception, but that was after a play we had set up. You know, we missed our shot, on first down we missed our opportunity (on the throw-back pass play).
Then we forced it on second and threw the interception. So we gotta to continue to do what we need to do. Believe me, we look at ourselves as a staff, and we look at ourselves very critically and very closely, and it's human nature and we go in there on Sunday and look at everything, and Neal picked it apart three, four times and I picked it apart several times and met with them, and I believe in what they're doing, I really do. Sure, we got to find ways to move the ball and find what we can do well and continue to improve. That's where that fine line comes in. Do you move forward and be stubborn and do what you do or find a way to move the ball to win games, and that's what we're going to do.
Q. (Question regarding offense line play vs. Florida.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we had two plays that were absolutely unacceptable. I have been coaching defense a long time and I've never had two "free" one and we gave 'em two free sacks. Merry Christmas! (laughter) And that's frustrating for me, as a defensive guy, because that never happens, but it did. One was on the tackle and one was on the line call. We'll take responsibility for that and get it fixed.
Q. Are you concerned? Is that different from what you've seen from the offensive line all season?
COACH STOOPS: It is. One was a complete mental error that we shouldn't have made and we haven't made that mistake before and really both of them you could say were mental errors but one was on Darrian and one was on somebody else.
Q. (Question regarding Raymond Sanders being better than Jojo Kemp in certain areas.)
COACH STOOPS: You can see we're doing different things with the perimeter run game and everything else. It's just experience. Whether sometimes we're reading things with that guy on who to block on the perimeter, things like that.
Q. What can Jojo do to get better?
COACH STOOPS: Just experience, just experience. They're both good players, Raymond played very good, played a very good game. He ran the ball pretty well, he caught it, he had some key blocks that people underestimate that we had some good success with some of those things we were doing. Both guys need to play, again, in a perfect world we have more snaps and give Jojo the ball more and run it more successfully. That's pretty easy to say.
Q. (Question regarding UK limiting Florida to three second-half points and if that gives UK momentum heading into Saturday’s game.)
COACH STOOPS: I said it last week and when they bring in extra tackles, three backs, they do a lot of different things that can put some stress on you and I thought we did some good things. I really do. There were some things that were very frustrating, that aren't right, just leverage on the football, the long run is unacceptable, the TD run from the quarterback was unacceptable, we had it stopped. If we take care of leverage on the ball it's a no gain and we didn't and they scored. Keep on working and getting better.
Q. (Question regarding South Carolina running back Mike Davis.)
COACH STOOPS: I really like him. I remember him out of high school and he's a really good player. He is, he's got great balance, great strength, you know, you look at him and maybe some people don't think he's flashy or whatever but he's constantly getting positive yards.
Again, this is a typical SEC football team; they're a physical team when they want to be and just like Florida. They're physical, but if you notice that game they hurt us with finesse plays, you know? So you gotta defend everything and that's where experiences come in and being good at a lot of things. And you have to do that. You have to dress things up.
Q. (Question regarding the team getting better in short-yardage plays.)
COACH STOOPS: I don't know if we can completely change things. I think it comes down to execution. You have to be very precise and sometimes you have to be very tough if it’s a short yardage situation and we need to get better at both, execution and toughness.
Q. (Question regarding how important it is to have depth in the SEC.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think it's very important to have depth. I think you can see from both those programs, Florida and South Carolina they have quality depth. It's not a big drop off from either guy. Some might argue either guy may play better. I think we're in the same boat, you know, we have two quarterbacks that I guess aren't separating themselves, we wish they were a little bit more productive and playing better at that position but I think you need to have good depth in this league.
Q. (Question regarding UK’s penalties.)
COACH STOOPS: I think we've improved the last few games and hopefully we're heading that trend in the right direction. I think we're gettin' better. I believe, what was it in the Florida game, three, maybe?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah.
Q. (Question regarding his relationship with South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, known Coach Spurrier for a long time from the days when Bob worked for them, got to know him and his wife Geri, really their whole family, I know them very well. We see them from time to time on vacation at the beach. Coach goes to the beach, same place Bob does, and Bob has some places and we see them every now and then. I always love seeing Coach Spurrier. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, only played against him once, and anytime you play an offensive mind like Coach Spurrier, you have to change things up. He's very good, great play caller, and they have great balance in their offense right now, so it will be a real challenge but it will be exciting.
Q. When you say you need consistency out of your quarterback, how hard is that to cultivate other than waiting and hoping that it happens?
COACH STOOPS: It is, it is hard. We just practice and practice every day, and play our games and hope one guy takes charge. He hasn't done that yet and I think like most people we feel the same frustration at times.
But like I said earlier, just to name one, if he wasn't clearly the starter and not helping us, we tried that.
Q. (Question regarding seeing some consistency in practice.)
COACH STOOPS: Again, we look at Max once we made the move and were going with Max, he was doing pretty good in practice and gets hurt, still has a good practice then last week goes out in the game and doesn't play like he was practicing.
Q. (Question regarding if he looks forward to facing an offensive coach like Coach Spurrier.)
COACH STOOPS: I do enjoy it, I do. I really like playing guys that I have a lot of respect for. It's fun. You know, last week playing Florida and you see the personality in Will (Muschamp) and you see how the team plays, and I loved that challenge. And now going to South Carolina and playing Coach Spurrier, you know, it's sleepless nights but it gives you a little fix (laughter).
Q. (Question regarding if UK brings in crowd noise for practice to prepare for road games.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we do, we bring in crowd noise, yes. It will be a hostile environment that's for sure, and I think you'll see a team down there we know they're going to play fast and furious and just lookin' at, you know, just the way they started against Vanderbilt they had a chance to go 35 0 in a hurry, against Vandy, and the one interception changed things a little bit, slowed 'em down, but they were on a roll.
Q. (Question on Max Godby.)
COACH STOOPS: You know what, he did good, and he's going to hold that position as of right now. I think it's very important to Max and maybe what he doesn't have physically he makes up for with his determination and effort. It important to him, he plays extremely hard.
Q. Did Daryl (Collins) indicate why he didn't throw the ball?
COACH STOOPS: There was some color (opponent jerseys between him and the receiver) and he just didn't throw it. I wish he would have.