WATCH: Coach Stoops discusses Kentucky's recent loss, upcoming game with Tennessee

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) - Coach Mark Stoops discusses Kentucky's loss to Georgia for the SEC East title and their upcoming game with Tennessee.

Coach Mark Stoops Press Conference
November 5, 2018

Opening Statement…
"Just like I said after the game, the film revealed the same thing. Georgia played better than us. (They) Made plays in critical moments, made us miss, blocked us, did a very good job. There's many things we can do better, and will. I thought our team really came into it with the right attitude and worked hard in our preparation. You have to be, the margin of error against teams like that is very small. You have to play your best football, and I didn't think we did that. Certainly, we had some mistakes early, and put us behind with the fumble early in the game, and then the false start. We had it down there in a good situation, felt like we had a good play called and designed. Made some mistakes, and you can't do that. Offensively, I thought we did some good things. Terry (Wilson) played very well. Made some improvement, there's certainly things he can improve from in that game, but he did play well. Offensively, we had some good possessions, moved the ball well. Then, got ourselves out of rhythm, behind the chains and stalled out and you can't do that. Defensively it was the worst game we've played all year. That's pretty obvious, giving up the amount of rush yards that we did. Again, credit Georgia for that, much of it. There's certainly things we can do better. Excited to get back out there today, and get the team motivated and excited about another great opportunity to go on the road here against Tennessee and try to get the victory, and close out the SEC play. We're worried about ourselves, and getting better and improving in some of those areas."

With four games left, are there potential redshirts that might play now …
"I don't think there's anybody that sitting out there that you haven't seen at this point. If they could help us win they would have been in there."

On what he saw on long Georgia punt return…
"Fantastic returner. Not in the game plan where we had it placed, and missed some tackles in the open field. Again, part of that is because when you get it, just like Lynn's (Bowden Jr.) punt return (at Missouri), when you get a good punt and you outkick your coverage sometimes it gives those returners the opportunity to get started. When they get started, as you saw in that game, whether it was on punt return or on defense when they had space and then you create a one on one, it's very difficult to tackle some of those guys. It was a combination of things."

On if it's a trend he is worried about…
"No."

On if he is less stressed now that he knows they clinched second place in the SEC East…
"I don't know about less stress. I think our team, we have to be motivated the same way again this week, and each and every week. That gets to be the challenge as you get through the grind of the season. You get late in the year here, sometimes that monotony sets in and we can't let that happen. We gotta have a great day today, and put this game behind us form the mistakes, and get ready to go play Tennessee. Getting another conference win is important to us."

On how he would evaluate the offensive line since the bye week…
"Inconsistent. Like a lot of us, I feel like there's many groups that you can get better. They have had some good moments. They've been inconsistent this past week. There's a couple critical mistakes. I think as I mentioned earlier, a fraction more protection here or there and we have an opportunity to make some big plays. The margin for error is small."

On getting the run game started in the last two weeks and how much it is on the backs and how much it is on the line…
"It's a group effort and it has something to do with the guys on the other side as well, so I think it's a combination of all that."

On the analysts speculating that Benny Snell may be a little worn down…
"No, I don't think worn down, beat up. If you play as many snaps and run the ball as hard as he does you're going to get beat up a little bit. I'll see him later on today. He's bruised, his ankle is more of a bruise than it is a sprain and so we'll see how tender that is."

On Tennessee Coach Jeremy Pruitt…
"I know Jeremy just from crossing paths and through the coaching tree. We've never worked together and I haven't spent a heck of a lot of time with him but you see his team fighting and playing extremely hard and improving and doesn't surprise me. They're getting better and better and playing better defensively second part of the year and you see his characteristics starting (to) take form and a tough football team, play very hard and they're improving."

On how long Kash Daniel and Jordan Jones will have to wear the clubs…
"They're definitely going to have to wear them again this week. I wish we could cut them down some but it doesn't look like that."

On how much it is affecting their play…
"It definitely affects them. It affects us; to what extent, I'm sure it's not comfortable for them. I will say this, they both did some very good things with those clubs on and it kind of surprised me at times, some of the good plays they made and there's times when you could tell when not having the grip really hurts them."

On the thought of splitting them up…
"Yeah, there was and we did that late in the game when it was heavy run. Put Chris (Oats) in there and Chris did some good things as well and we may have to mix it up a little bit. That wasn't a good game for DeAndre (Square), for being a true freshman and that size…tough."

On being nine games in and not seeming to have an identity offensively…
"I think it's fair for you to put anything you want on it. I don't think we look at it like that. I think we know very clearly who we are and I think knowing certain opponents, you know what's going to be extremely difficult. Those teams aren't at the top (of) college football for no reason, they're pretty good."

On Lynn Bowden last year versus this year…
"Experience. With every opportunity he's getting better, he's working extremely hard, he's practicing more consistently, he's learning the details of playing that position. We know the skills he's had and you see the skill set and you see the ability with the ball in his hands but he's working harder when he doesn't have it in his hands."

On what he has seen on film from Tennessee…
"Anytime you have the talent at wide receiver that they have, always makes you conscious of those guys and not leaving your corners in one-on-one situations all day with the talent that they have and the speed that they have outside. That can open up some opportunity for some big plays in the run game. They've had some injuries at the offensive line I'm sure did not help them. But they're a talented, good football team and getting better with every game."

On Isaiah Epps getting more reps…
"He's been working hard. He's been consistent in practice, getting better. You saw some other packages where we're getting some other guys mixed in there, trying to get some spark and some good play out of our outside wide receivers"

On the offensive package UK has for Ahmad Wagner drawing pass interference (laughter) …
"We tried to complete that. That goes down for thirty yards that he doesn't get credit for, right? (laughter) 'Fish' (Zy'Aire Hughes) is getting better also. He brings some different change and he brings some great speed and he is getting better. It gets hard for those guys because opportunity in practice and just the reps and all that. That is why experience matters. So, those guys are making some improvement and we have got to continue to work them in."

On safety Davonte Robinson...
"Davonte played very good. He was our player of the game on the defensive side of the ball here this week. He played a good football game. He had to step in and play free (safety), which he has been working that medium package, the nickel guy. He's had to split reps and didn't get as many reps at free last week in practice but stepped in the game and did some very good things. Fought through those pinch sets that I was talking about and shot through and made some tackles, was disruptive, made a very critical open field tackle that was a difficult tackle, did some good things. I am pleased with how he is playing."

On Robinson's play given that Darius West is out for the first half of the Tennessee game...
"It is very encouraging. Sometimes when opportunities like that – certainly we want Darius in there all the time. He is a leader and plays extremely tough. But, when opportunities like that arrive, it is interesting to see how those guys will step in and I anticipate that he will play very well."

On leadership on the team to this point of the season...
"It has been. The guys have been very good. Nobody is perfect. Everybody is going to have some ups and downs. But, we have enough guys on this team and enough leaders. You saw that Saturday after the game and I anticipate the guys will come in ready to go today. I'll meet with a few of them today before our team meeting today. I expect great leadership like I have most of the season."

On having a fourth of the season left to play after playing the divisional championship game...
"It's like that. Like I talked last week, the situation is going to change every week and this is a different situation. We are going on the road. We are playing Tennessee at Tennessee with our last league game and it is very important to us."

If he will talk to the team about not having won in 34 years in Knoxville…
"I will not, no."

On considering an onside kick after scoring a TD vs. Georgia with nine minutes left...
"I thought about it for a minute, or 30 seconds. I felt like we had to get some stops and if you kick it and don't get the onside kick, you're putting your team in a really bad spot. You're down by two touchdowns at that point, if you get a stop, you get a three-and-out, you get the ball back in good field position. You have a shot, especially because the offense was starting to move the ball at that point. Defensively, we really didn't give ourselves many opportunities."

On Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano from last year to this year...
"You can see him. He is really good when he is in rhythm. He's got some really talented wide receivers. He is playing more confident and experience and getting better. He's done some good things."

How nice would it be for this staff and the players to end not only the Florida streak but the Tennessee road streak in one season…
"I think just beating Tennessee is important to us. Whether there's a streak involved or not, why would that make a difference to our team, really? They don't know anything about 34 years ago. Be honest with you, they really don't care. They want to win for their team this year. I think that's very important and that's motivation for us. For me to say that, of course, I always say that, I acknowledge the importance to our fans, I acknowledge the importance to our state and community, but to our team, they're hungry for each other and for this year."

On if Terry Wilson's efficiency throwing the ball in the last two games is what was expected when named a starter at the beginning of the season …
"Anytime you have a first-year starter, you're going to go through some ups and downs. They have to play. They have to go through some failure to learn from those things at times, and he's getting much better. He's been much more consistent. Again, like I mentioned couple of weeks ago, we have to look at ourselves also to make sure we're putting him in a position to be successful and the team in a position to be successful. I thought we had a good plan (vs. Georgia). We moved the ball pretty effectively at times and just stalled out. Again, as I mentioned, certain things, we hurt ourselves, but it was a difficult team. They're very good defensively, very well coached, but I thought I saw progress."

On if the recent quarterback competition lit a spark under Wilson at Missouri …
"You'd have to ask him. I mean, competition brings out the best in all of us, and I think our players are seeing that at every position, and that's always going to be the case here. You have to earn your way onto the field, but you also know that experience matters whenever you go through some growing pains with inexperience."

On what the team can take away from playing on such a huge stage last week …
"I think you always, you have to learn and grow from every opportunity and certainly in that game, we have to take some good from that. We have to learn from that, and they will. I think that matters, you keep on getting in that position, and you have to earn the right to get in that position from a lot of hard work, and we gotta continue to do that. I think it's pretty evident that we need to continue to recruit. Those guys (Georgia) are pretty talented."

On what Georgia did to limit Josh Allen's impact …
"They're good. I knew that going into it. They're well coached, and they're smart. They were not going to put themselves in a vulnerable position. They weren't going to let him change the game, and they didn't. I think they do a very good job that way with the sets, the way they play, the way they protect, and we didn't do our job. If we're more efficient on first, second down and get them in more predictable situations, that's when Josh will have more success. Credit them, and we need to do a better job of just putting them in that situation."

On if he believes in trap games …
"I think certain games set up better than others, but it's always up to you and your team to get them in a position to be successful and get them right in the mind and have a great week of preparation."

On the us-against-the-world mentality in road environments …
"I think we've had good concentration on the road. We like to talk about that because that's a fact. That's the way the situation is. We're in there, we get on our bus, get on our plane and go there, kind of united, no distractions. That's what it dictates, and that's what it is, so therefore, we better make the best of it."

On the message to the players with three games left …
"Oh yeah, we always look at it as one-week seasons, but it is a fact as you get towards the end of the year, and as they're starting to get mentally and physically beat up, that they have to recharge themselves and refocus for these last three games. Therefore I will talk about it briefly, just like I talk about the first half and second half. As you get in to this last segment, we will discuss that briefly, and then we'll obviously get on to this week and the things necessary to win this game."



 
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