Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

KENTUCKY POSTGAME QUOTES
South Carolina at Kentucky 
Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, Ky. 
Sept. 24, 2016


MARK STOOPS: Good effort by all three sides. I thought our offense made tough first downs, tough yards when they needed to. Late in the game they protected the football. We need to clean it up and have a couple that we need to stay away from. Defensively it came down to third downs again. Getting them to Second and long, third and long and getting off the field. We're 3-13 and that's the game for us. We have really not been executing and not playing to our potential on third downs.

When you can get off the field, you limit your opportunities, yards and points. 

It was a really good team victory. I’m proud of those guys. It’s really important for us to play well this weekend when we honor the four gentlemen that we did on Thursday. And to have the Hall of Fame weekend, I have great respect for all of those people. 

That's the way this football team needs to play, with that passion and energy that every fan expects, that we expect and that we will do. These guys mean well. We had work to do and have work to do and we'll continue to work at it. They come to work. They have accepted it and they looked in the mirror. You can't change the past, but we can certainly change our future and push forward.

Really it just feels good to get to .500. Again, it wasn't the start we wanted, we can't change the past, but we can learn from our mistakes and push on. We're excited to get on to the next opportunity and next week will be a real challenge.

MARK STOOPS: I did, I did. I just wasn't going to let them accept it on Wednesday. It wasn't that -- but it's not okay. The way we have been playing, it's not okay. Every opportunity we go out there is to get better. We don't go out there just to kill time. When I see some of it, they mean well, they just need to push. And we need the discipline. We need to approach every practice and every play, because you never know what one play is going to make a difference in a game. I think our approach has been better.

Q. Did you have a player or two step over?
MARK STOOPS: I think I could just see it with all of them. I really could. I don't know, but it really appeared to me that the guys up front played tougher tonight. I know Alvonte made a couple critical plays. In the past couple games, in third and medium, when we were getting some good pressure, I knew they would come to some runs at some point. He made a great play on the third and medium, a really disciplined play, and that was big. He made a few plays that stood out to me. Courtney had some good pressures and the guys off the edges had some good rushes as well.

It all starts up there. Those guys have to play with that attitude, that technique and be that precise all the time. There were still things in there. There were things that we blew. We gave them, I don't mean to be disrespectful, we didn't execute on the third down that gave them the three points. That's not okay.

Q. What is it that Benny Snell gives you that maybe other running backs don't?
MARK STOOPS: Obviously, he's physical. He's a strong guy. Boom is super explosive and can take it the distance at any time, but Benny's a little different change up. He has really good vision, really good patience and he's very strong.

Q. Does your style kind of allow to you use him in a closer role, almost?
MARK STOOPS: It does. Yes. In critical situations those are tough yards. We all know that certain games are going to come down to very close calls and inches. It was nice to see our O-line get that fourth down right there and not have to go back on the field. That's the way you want it. He can get us that.

Q. Did your secondary answer the bell tonight?
MARK STOOPS: They did. They were much sharper. Those were the guys that I've been leaning on because we need to play better and they played a lot better today.

Q. Your biggest win since you've been here?
MARK STOOPS: They're tough. It's not an easy business. That's okay, we know what we're in for and it's a big win. I guess you could say that. We're in year four and we all know what comes with it. The heat's always on and so it comes with the territory. So it was a needed win, yes.

Q. At one point Stephen was 7-8 and you were 1-6 on third down, were you trying not to put too much burden on his shoulder?
MARK STOOPS: He missed the one third down, I want to say, over the middle. We thought it was open and he overthrew it and got the interception. Some of it was protection. I thought late in the game we had a third down that we had schemed up pretty good, we thought it was there, and I don't know if his vision was bad or protection broke down, but he pulled it down. I think he was wanting to be careful with the football at that point also.

Q. How do you evaluate him?
MARK STOOPS: I'll have to watch the film. I know he made plays when he had to.

Q. How big was his scramble to get down to the one on that possession?
MARK STOOPS: That was very big. That's what you guys know we have seen people do that to us. It's a back breaker when you have things covered or you get some good pressure and a guy pulls it down and scrambles and make that first down. It hurts your defense. It was big for us. It was a smart decision and good vision by him and a good run.

Q. Is this the best game that Denzil Ware has played?
MARK STOOPS: It looked like he played solid to me. He missed one, you'll probably see it on TV, I was chewing his butt during the game. He lost some leverage on a swing that we had corrected at halftime on some things. A couple things I noticed are when we got him behind the chains, he was very physical on the counter and that had been hurting us earlier in the year.  Some things we cleaned up and he made one play in particular I know that got him to second and long on a counter that he was very physical.

Q. Could you sense that the --
MARK STOOPS: The coverage I thought was big on the third on the sprint out. He got that corrected from me chewing his ear off and then he was out there and made a nice play in the flat.

Q. You say the ceremony had an impact on your guys?
MARK STOOPS: I think it did. I really do. I think that was very important for us, the courage of those guys and what they have done. Knowing the difference between right and wrong and that those guys really made a stand, a difference and had an impact on a lot of people's lives. They taught others at that time and are still teaching today. It was very important for our team and myself to be there and we have great respect for those gentlemen and the inductees as well.

Q. Any significant injuries?
MARK STOOPS: I don't think so.

Q. Did you have Wesley try to go in and talk to the team beforehand?
MARK STOOPS: I told them when I went out there that I wanted him to and I couldn't find him. I would have loved him to talk to the team before hand and I told them that as soon as he went on the field. I hoped he was around there getting them jacked up because I wanted him to be there.

UK Student-Athletes


#92 Alvonte Bell, DE


On the improved play of the defense …
“We were just more focused. Coach Stoops has been preaching to us to be focused. We all did our job and that was the difference in us winning this game.” 

On the impact of the defensive line …
“We all did our jobs and what the coaches told us to do. We all played our gaps and read what was given to us on defense.”

On the play of Denzil Ware…
“He played great. I wish the best for him the rest of the season. The way he played tonight should be the same way he should play the rest of the season.” 

#35 Denzil Ware, DE


On the last sack of the game …
“I knew if we stopped them right here, we would win this game because I believed our offense would finish the job. I wanted to do this for my teammates and Coach Stoops.”

#15 Stephen Johnson, QB


On how this win felt …
“Great, it felt absolutely great. You know, to come out here and execute like we know we can on offense and defense. We came in here with this victory and it feels fantastic.” 

On how different this game was compared to New Mexico State last week…
“It wasn’t much different. South Carolina is a really good team. We knew we had to come with our A-Game for this week for sure, to do everything we could to beat them. But, the atmosphere was fantastic. Being able to go out there and have the support of BBN was really great.”

On having good running backs behind him …
“Having Benny, Boom, Jojo and all the other running backs truly is a great asset to have with our offense. All those guys can get first downs, extend plays and do anything necessary for us to win. So I mean those guys are fantastic to have on the team, absolutely.”

#18 Stanley “Boom” Williams, RB


On how this win boosted the team’s confidence …
“This was huge, we needed it. We believe in ourselves, we believe in our coaches and it was a great atmosphere tonight. We had the fans in it and it was an all-around good team win. And like I said, we had great support from the fans.”

On how confident the offense is in its game plan…
“When you have all 11 guys who’s doing their job, we are successful. It started with practice. We’ve had two great weeks of practice, last week and this week. The end result was a win, so just have to keep it going and be able to have all 11 guys continue to do their job.”  

#77 Naquez Pringle, DT


On Wednesday practice mindset…
 “We have to take it to heart. You know, he just wants the best for us, and he wants the best out of everybody. He knows we can perform to the best of our ability. So Coach Stoops, he wants the best so we’ve got to give it to him.”

On how everything came together tonight…
“Seeing what we can do and what we can accomplish when we just put our mind to it. You know, we really worked hard week after week. We couldn’t find a way to finish the first three weeks and tonight was a great win.”

On USC’s play…
“South Carolina did a good job running the ball, passing on third down and trying to take our momentum away but we just had to answer back to them.”

#26 Benjamin Snell Jr., RB


On Coach Stoops getting after them this past week and the importance of this game…
“Yeah, it was a big game, but he got after us. He was just coaching us up. You know, I’m glad to have Stoops. You know all the guys love him. After the things he told us before the game, that got us hype and we came out and did our thing.”

On his running style…
“I’m not even paying attention half the time. I am just running forward.”

On if he thinks he’s a back who can close things out…
“That’s what I try to look for every time I touch the ball, a first down. I try to fall forward. I’m a downhill runner so that helps.”

South Carolina Head Coach Will Muschamp 


Opening statement …
“We really lacked execution starting the game, offensively. We struggled and couldn’t get anything going in the throwing game. We were bad on third downs for two weeks in a row. Thought we kind of got some things going there in the second quarter and felt good going into halftime. We just never got into sync and defensively we really struggled to play blocks up front and hold the point against people. That’s something that’s been a recurring theme. We try to load the box with as many guys as we can. We have to get off blocks and make some tackles. We had an opportunity at the goal line to make a tackle and didn’t make it. Other things we’ll continue to work through. The kids battled hard and fought. It’s a seven-point game. Just disappointed with the lack of execution offensively and defensively just not playing blocks. We’ll continue to work and continue to improve. We’ve got a young group. It’s frustrating in the passing game because of the lack of continuity. Deebo (Samuel) is a guy that we felt like might be able to go and couldn’t go. Randrecous (Davis) has a bad hamstring and didn’t make the trip. Chavis Dawkins is playing, Bryan (Edwards) is playing. We’re just having a hard time getting anything going in the throwing game. We’re lacking a lot of execution and a lot of it has to do with timing.”

On how he would judge Brandon McIlwain’s performance …
“There was a lack of execution. It wasn’t all Brandon’s fault. We have to do a better job of getting in the right looks and different things we’re trying to do. It’s frustrating. We’ll continue to go back and work at it. We’re a young group. I’m disappointed with how we played offensively.” 

On the offensive plan every week with a true freshman quarterback …
“As a coach, you have to do enough to give your guys a chance to be successful. You have to do enough to what your guys can execute and function with. In the first quarter, we had some issues functioning offensively with lack of communication and execution. It wasn’t all at one position. It was multiple spots. We have to play better around that position and at that position.”

On how much patience it takes having that quarterback situation and working through it …
“That’s part of it. That’s where we are and that’s what we’re going to work through.”

On why Kentucky was so successful against South Carolina’s defense …
“We’re not the most physical bunch in the secondary and they wanted to make our second defensive backs tackle. That’s what they did. We have some guys that need to tackle more. We’re doing everything we can, as far as teaching is concerned. We just have to learn to wrap, stick your face in the fan and like it a little bit.” 

On if he saw anything from A.J. Turner or David Williams that he liked …
“I thought they ran hard. We have to get them some scoring space and opportunities.” 

On if he expects Deebo Samuel to be ready to go next week …
“Yes. I Do.”

On Kentucky running the ball in the fourth quarter …
“We were loading up as many as we could. Go watch the film. There are a lot of folks sitting there. You have to get off a block and make a tackle.”

On if he’s surprised that McIlwain wasn’t able to make plays with his legs …
“Again, I think (Kentucky) did a nice job in the zone read things as far as what they were doing defensively. We have to find out some ways to run the football more effectively and get in the run game. We’ll go back and look.”

On his philosophy on going for it on fourth down …
“Well in the first half we were going to go for it, but it was a little further than we wanted it. It was fourth and two or three on the last one and punted the ball with plenty of time to get it back and go down and score a touchdown. What we did worked.”

On the progress of the offense this season …
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s hard to get any continuity in the passing game with guys missing time. It’s frustrating, especially with a freshman quarterback. It’s different if you have a guy that’s played for three years back there. That’s where we are and let’s go make it work. That’s what we need to do as coaches is give our guys an opportunity to be successful.”

On if his plan is to stick with McIlwain full-time at quarterback …
“Yes.”

On if he will continue to use multiple tight ends at once in the future …
“Well we’re down two starting wide outs right now. Those guys are the best available options for us offensively. Moving forward right now, that’s what we need to be doing.”

On if he’s happy to get back home to Williams-Brice Stadium …
“There’s no question. Playing at home is an advantage for us. We need to play well and get our fans excited.”

South Carolina Student-Athletes


#24 D.J. Smith, DB


On the interception that was called for pass interference…
“I was on the other side of the field of Jamarcus (King), but I don’t think it was pass interference. I couldn’t really tell. I saw him pick it, and it looked like the other team’s receivers were running the wrong routes. It looked like they ran into each other.  It looked clean for Jamarcus, if that’s who they called it on. I think that was a big play in the game that took us back.”

On the mood in the locker room and how the leaders step up…
“Obviously we’re frustrated. We’ve lost to Kentucky three years in a row. That’s no fun. As far as the energy in the locker room, obviously people are down because we know we could have played better and we know we could have beat them. Being leaders, we have to regroup, look at the tape, and move on from there.” 

On pressure on the defense…
“A lot. I feel like the defense needs to be ready to play. I know we’ve been playing a lot more snaps than usual on defense, so that put a bit of pressure on our shoulders. So that’s what we’re supposed to do, make plays on ‘D’ because defense is winning games. We just have to regroup.”

#5 Darius English, DL


On Kentucky running the same plays getting Carolina off balance…
“Pretty much the whole offense sent power to the boundaries. We’ve got to play harder.”

On South Carolina defense improvement…
“Stopping the run better and playing harder. We need to be putting in a better effort. “

On how Brandon (McIlwain) is playing…
“He played well. He’s a freshman who’s doing the best he can. We’re all behind him.”

#74 Mason Zandi, OL


On the offensive struggle …
“To reiterate what coach told us in the locker room after the game, in this organization we are not going to point fingers at a particular group or person. We win and lose as an organization and that’s how it goes from here. We are going to look at the film come tomorrow morning and we are going to make corrections and move on from there.”

On the closeness to success of the offensive line …
“Oh, we’re right there. I think our run game is right there, I think we can pass pretty well; we are right on the edge, it’s just a matter of taking that step.”

On what it is going to take to make it …
“We are going to come to work tomorrow morning and we are going to work harder and we are going to practice harder. We are going to do everything so much harder than we did. That’s the only way I can explain it. We don’t have time to hang out heads, nothing like that. We’ll come in tomorrow and work.”

#8 Marquavius Lewis, DL


On the deflation of Kentucky running the football and getting first-downs …
“It’s on us. It’s a check for us that we need to dig down a little deeper and get to it.”

On anything different from last year to this year …
“No, just on defense we need to be more efficient in what we do and as a defense we need to play better.”

#81 Hayden Hurst, TE


On how big it was for the tight ends to be part of the offense  …
“I just try to be reliable for Brandon (McIlwain) because things are happening fast. Heck, they are happening fast for me, but I am trying to be reliable for him and I think those check down routes is big.”

On offense clicking better …
“I think for us it is just experience. It’s getting out here and getting in these types of environments. I know it’s not the result we all hoped it was, but like I said, if we get out here and get the experience, it’s just going to help us in the long run.”

On where the offense is and what needs to change to be better … 
“To be completely honest, we were putting some consistent drives together tonight. It’s just building off of that. I know we didn’t get it done tonight in the end but it’s just positive to see that we are putting stuff together and that it doesn’t look as crazy.”