Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Mark Stoops
COACH STOOPS: We need to execute better on both sides of the ball, in particular we've got to move the ball and get some first downs when we have field position and you know score some points. Defensively again, tale of two halves. We played well the first half created some points, got some momentum and field position. In the second half, they got us off balance with the quarterback change, and we've got to do a better job.
We've got to adjust to that. We had guys in position and they made us look foolish at times. We've got to do a better job coaching that up and playing technique and executing our assignments. There's enough blame to go around. We all need to do a better job.
We're not very pleased with the way we finished again. I know the fans are not happy. And I'm not happy. It's disappointing. It's tough.
The message to our seniors was I appreciated them. I love those guys. They're really good kids that really gave us everything they had. I feel bad for them.
Our preparation has been good. They wanted this game. They had a great mentality. We didn't get it done. To the younger guys, to the guys that are coming back in that locker room, we're going to get to work. We're going to have a grueling offseason, get mentally and physically tougher.
We've got to kick it up some serious notches to compete at a higher level. And we will do that. We've got a good nucleus of players coming back and we've got to coach them better and work harder in the offseason.
Q. How disappointing is it to get to the end of the season and you're sitting here talking about lack of execution and also to have a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and have a chance to put the game away really in the second quarter and don't do it?
COACH STOOPS: Well, we don't do it. We fumble the ball. And then we got the ball at, what, the 25 and got nothing out of it; went backwards. We didn't do it. We've got to do a better job. We've got to coach better.
Q. How big a setback is it probably not going into postseason play unless something crazy happens with five and seven teams and all those things?
COACH STOOPS: It's a setback. It is. It's disappointing. I know people have been patient even through a tough third year here and tough second part of this season. People were hanging in there. The fans were there, supporting us, and everybody wants to see a change. Nobody wants to see a change more than myself and the staff and these players that are working hard. It hurts. I understand the frustration, believe me; very clearly. We've got to do a better job, but we're going to do that. We're going to go back to work. And we need to get a lot tougher in the offseason. It starts there. And it starts with the way we go about our business right away here in this offseason program.
Q. Just curious of the thought process, if my numbers are off, it will be slightly, I don't think they are. The score is 24-24, and second half Drew is one for 12 for minus one yards and you decided to stick with him. Why did you not make a change?
COACH STOOPS: We had a discussion at that point. I talked with Shannon (Dawson) at that point, and we felt like there were some plays that were there that he was making some good decisions. We felt like he was a fraction off. I think it was (Jeff) Badet had a drop, I think it was at that time. We had some plays and could have probably gone with Patrick (Towles) a couple of series earlier than that.
Q. In spite of some of the struggles, the defense put the offense in some good positions this year, made some big plays; but the offense, 10 touchdown passes 16 picks this season. What would you tell fans that might not have confidence in Shannon Dawson, and do you have confidence in Shannon Dawson as the offensive coordinator?
COACH STOOPS: Yes, I absolutely have confidence in Shannon Dawson. He's a very good coach, very knowledgeable. It gets frustrating for him, believe me. It's the same way, as a defensive play caller, when things aren't going well. It gets difficult. Let me put it to you that way. It gets hard and it gets frustrating and guys need to step up and make plays.
Whether you're an offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, there's only so many good play calls. At some point, you have to win some one-on-one battles. I have a lot of confidence in Shannon. He'll get the ship corrected and straightened out and get the guys competing at a higher level and we need to play better across the board.
Q. When you're trying to get over that hump and you talk about guys needing to make plays, how devastating, when you have a play that's set up in the passing game or gets there in the running game, and it's a hold or a dropped pass? Those moments seem like they really piled up today.
COACH STOOPS: They did. They did. And also we had a couple well-designed plays that were there that were there for big plays. And we didn't get the ball to them. One play in particular that we had set up that maybe you'll see it on TV, but we'll see it, that we had set up and Drew (Barker), he said he couldn't get a grip on the ball. It was a wet ball, and he saw the guy coming pretty late but didn't distribute it to him. So that's part of what we've gotta do better. We've gotta execute plays that are there.
Q. Why was there so much trouble stopping and containing (Lamar) Jackson today?
COACH STOOPS: You know, a lot of it was technique. I'm very frustrated at times. We had some guys on the edge that were just getting outran and not playing with proper technique and not understanding where their help was within the defense. And he just flat out made some plays. He outran us and really made us look bad on the edge, on the perimeter on some plays.
Q. So much hype and expectation heading into year three of the program. Do you feel like there was a step forward this year? Step back? What?
COACH STOOPS: I'm obviously very frustrated with the result. And the result wasn't good enough, in my opinion. So I'm not pleased with the result. Five wins is not good enough. And I'm tired of the would've, could've, should'ves, just as the fans are. We've got to make those plays. And that's when our program will grow, when we make those plays to win games.
When we've got the ball on the 1-yard line and we punch it in. And we'll do that. We will. And this won't hurt our momentum in recruiting and developing our team and our program, we're going to continue to get better, believe me.
And I desperately wanted to win this game because it's a big game. It's a rivalry game, to get to practices, to get to the bowl game, but it's not the end of the world.
It's six and six. It would have been six and six had we won, and we didn't. And we need to get better across the board to go to where we want to go. And we're going to continue to do that.
Q. I know going into last year, after last season, you really focused on needing to get better in the secondary, and you've got some promising young guys there. As you look at that defense now going into year four, what do you need? What positions, what places do you need to shore up to feel like you can compete at this level?
COACH STOOPS: I think we're going to be much better in the secondary once again just with all three freshmen playing today and with Marcus (McWilson) and A.J. (Stamps) rotating, really, if you look at that, all four will be back and both nickels will be back and a dime.
I like where we're at in the secondary. I think they're very talented players and they've got the size you're looking for and the athletic ability you're looking for.
We really took some lumps at outside backer. And you saw that today in the perimeter. And we've got to do a better job of containing the football. And that looked ugly to me today, just watching it from the sidelines and the frustration that I was feeling from the sideline of execution that we need to play better at outside linebacker.
And I do feel good about a bunch of guys coming off redshirt and guys that are on the scout team this year that will come back and help us. But we'll get better across the board. We've got Alvonte (Bell) coming off scholarship, redshirt, we redshirted him as well. He'll help us up front on the defensive line and give us a better pass rusher as well.
Q. Going into the offseason, do you have to consider some changes to your coaching staff or personnel?
COACH STOOPS: I'm not going to get into that right now. You know, I'm disappointed in this loss, as all you and our fans. And everybody that cares about Kentucky is disappointed and frustrated. Believe me, I am. And we'll look at all aspects of our program to make it a program that everybody's proud of.
We're going to work hard and we're going to do the right things and our players are going to have a tough offseason. And we're all accountable, and we'll all look at ourselves in the mirror and see what we can do to get better and I'll evaluate all aspects of the program.
#7 Drew Barker, Fr., QB
On the second half struggles…
“It was definitely a tough half. We didn’t make plays when we needed to, we kind of did that in the first half and I feel like that was the difference.”
On his slump during the second half…
“It was just a combination of things but I was just glad to be out there. Got a good learning experience and got some more reps as well.”
On what to look forward to for next season…
“We have a lot of good young players. There is definitely a lot to look forward to. Just have to go into the offseason and hit it harder than we ever have.”
#1 A.J. Stamps, Sr., S
On losing with a 21-0 lead …
“It most definitely wasn’t (pleasant). That’s not the way we expected it to go. We faced adversity and we didn’t come out on the right end of the stick, we came out on the short end of the stick. The younger guys have to fight over the offseason and do what they have to do to get better.”
On whether this game hurt as bad as anything he’s been through here at UK …
“Yes, most definitely. With a bowl game on the line and it being my last game here at Kentucky, (it’s the worst feeling I’ve been through here). It’s been a great place. I’ve had a great time the two years I was here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
On why fans should stay confident in this team …
“I know we didn’t end it the way we wanted to, but as everyone can see, the program is going in the right direction. I have faith in these coaches and also these players. I feel like they’re going to do the right things.”
#4 Mikel Horton, So., RB
On Louisville’s comeback from being down 21-0…
“It is the worst feeling in the world, especially (against) Louisville. We have got to come back harder and stronger in the offseason as a team. We have to move as one and that’s our goal. Coach Stoops has already told us in the locker room that this is not acceptable.”
On how the loss feels…
“It hurts. Everyone in the locker room was hurt and crying. It was emotional because we don’t like losing. We have to start executing the little things.”
On his fumble…
“That was my fault. I apologize to everybody; the fans, the team, people watching on TV. It happens in football. Little things happen that can destroy the team or make the team and we need to learn how to come off the adversity.”
#91 Farrington Huguenin, Sr., DE
On his feelings about the game…
“We played good in the first half but didn’t execute good in the second half. They (Louisville) made adjustments and we didn’t make the right adjustments. So, the lead up on that.”
On Louisville’s quarterback change…
“He (Jackson) is definitely a good player. It was definitely hard to stop him. He has a quick twitch. We should have played better on that.”
On the program moving forward despite the same record from last season…
“It definitely did, especially in the leadership aspect. This is a great place and I am excited to see what Kentucky has in store for the years to come. Kentucky is not in trouble and I don’t think Mark Stoops is going anywhere. We have some young guys that will start taking control.“
#45 Josh Forrest, Sr., LB
On the direction of the program…
“Bringing in great players. A lot of young guys that have played will have to step up. We have a lot of freshmen that played that are older now and will not make the same mistakes as they did this year. I definitely expect the program to grow.”
On what is next for him…
“Whatever is next. I’m going to sit down and talk to my family and coaches. I’m going to go with the flow. I’m going to keep working out, you know, try to keep my body right.”
On how far he thinks he has come while at Kentucky…
“I think I have come a long way, as a person and a football player. Personally making my own decisions, living alone away from my parents and making smarter decisions. As a football player, just understanding what’s going on offensively and on defense.”
Head Coach Bobby Petrino
Opening statement …
“I’m just really proud of our players. I’m really proud of our assistant coaches. Obviously, we didn’t get off to the best start in the world. We rallied at halftime. Our guys did a good job of keeping their poise. And then we really came out and competed extremely hard in the second half and found a way to come back and win the game. We executed well on offense. I think Lamar really grew up, but also the guys around him rallied and competed hard. They helped him play better, which was really good to see”
On the team never giving up …
“That’s what I’m so proud about; their poise, their competitive spirit and their toughness. I think it says a whole lot about the leadership and the quality of guys we have on the team.”
On halftime message to the team …
“I basically just came in here and told them that I wanted to see them compete hard and stay together. We’ll do this together. We did shut them down in the second half.”
On keeping the Governor’s Cup…
“It’s awesome. It’s huge for us. It’s certainly a rivalry and certainly something we are proud of, to have the trophy. Our guys did a great job this week in practice with our focus and our energy. This was important to them.”
On team’s confidence that they would come back…
“We were moving the ball. We had it in scoring position two other times and threw interceptions and made our own mistakes. I liked the way we were running it. You could see the holes. You could see our running backs hitting it hard. I felt like we could move the ball on them.”
On Lamar Jackson’s overall performance …
“I thought he really grew up. He made some great plays. He was running the ball, throwing it and I think that’s the thing that was good for me to see. He really just concentrated on reading the plays, not guessing and not making a pre-determined decision.”
On how he felt the coaching staff responded…
“I thought our coaches did a great job. It’s hard to come in the locker room down like that. We didn’t expect to be down like that. There was a little shock effect. So, you really have to have poise and you really have to take care of each other. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
#97 Devonte Fields, Jr., LB
On what kept the defense together…
“We always stick together through everything. No matter what even today, we just stick together.”
On the feel of the rivalry against Kentucky…
“It was exciting. Back at TCU we had rivals but this one was a legit rival and I liked the game it was fun to play.”
On what it was like to change the defensive game plan the morning of the game…
“We practiced everyone at different positions all week in case something like this happens, we would be prepared just like today. We were prepared for what happened.”
#8 Lamar Jackson, Fr., QB
On what the coaches said when the team was down 21-0…
“We’re still in the game because it’s only the first half, and to never doubt yourself.”
On coach saying he grew up throughout this game…
“Because I kept the ball in our hands, kept moving the chains, took the short throws and never tried to make a big play fast. I kept taking my time. ”
On the mood when he first joined the huddle…
“There was no doubt in the huddle. I just told them, ‘It’s game time lets go.’”
On to be named the MVP in this rivalry as a freshman…
“I have about two or three more years to go, so that’s nothing.”
#78 Aaron Epps, Sr., Offensive Line
On switching up the game entirely…
“We knew that it was going to be on us to run the ball because of what was going on at the time. As offensive line, we got to run the ball. There is nothing else to it. We can protect but we got to run the ball. We got to establish a running game for the wide receivers to get open”
On what it says about the team’s comeback…
“Everyone is doing what they are supposed to do. The whole offensive line and everyone that was brought in knew what was going on. It was just about having fun. This is going to be the biggest comeback of the year. That is what I was telling them. Who would have thought we would be coming back 21- nothing. I know a lot of people probably turned their TVs off, but we were just having fun and enjoying the moment.”
On the ending of the game…
“I had an adrenaline rush. I was like, ‘we are 5-0,’ and I was speechless. I was sitting there, lost for words and thinking just give me the trophy. I don’t know what else was going on.”