Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes
Mark Stoops, Kentucky Head Coach
“We didn’t play good enough to win. You have to give credit to Tennessee. They made plays. They were physical. They put us in a lot of space with their run game. The dual-threat quarterback put a lot of pressure on us, put a lot to the perimeter and made big plays, explosive runs. It’s hard to win when you do that. I thought our offense did the same. We had a lot of quality runs, obviously when you rush for that many yards. The difference is in the red zone. They capped it with touchdowns. We capped it off with some field goals. In a close game where the defense is reeling, every point counts. We got it down there and had a turnover down deep. That puts us behind as well.
“The bottom line is they played better than us. We did not play clean enough to win. We know that coming to this game that you were going to be put under some pressure on the perimeter. They finished off some big runs. I thought that was the difference. Give them credit. They are a big physical team, and Dobbs is a real talent. He’s been around for along time and really made some quality runs. I want to give them credit first, and him particularly, and their team and their coaching staff. But also, it gets down to some of it with us. The aggravating piece is, we have to do the things we are capable of doing. That gets back to the things I touched on early in the year. Some of that reared its ugly head today as well, with guys not executing their responsibility at times. That’s were we have to grow and get better in all sides - offense, defense, special teams. When we have plays that are there, we have to make them. They are good enough. That’s a heck of a football team. They’re coached really well, and they put a lot of stress on you. You know that going into it. The plays that are there, and we’re not making them, it’s difficult o win a game like that. That’s where we have to grow and take it to the next step.”
(On what wasn’t working in the red zone)
“You have to give them credit. They are a physical bunch. As things get tighter, the windows are smaller. We had a pass or two that we have to stick in there. There’s going to be tight windows, and you have to make some plays. Guys have to get open. We have to protect.”
(On how costly the injuries were)
“Definitely it hurt. I know they are banged up, but they are a physical as heck. They are a big football team. They’re very big. Their skill on offense is big and strong. So, I think with Jordan Jones missing most of the first half, not having him hurt. Eli (Barnett) does some very good things, but to play an entire game with all of the misdirection and some of that that they do, they put you in a really bind. They put a lot of stress on you, and then that make plays. It’s what they do. It’s part of their offense.”
(On Josh Dobbs’ play against Kentucky)
“He’s a very good football player. He’s very talented. He’s a big guy that is very elusive. He’s deceptive. He has great speed, but he has very good balance, toughness. I’m glad we don’t have to see him anymore. He is a senior, right? I know because he played us all four years. He’s a heck of a player. That’s what I told him afterwards the game; he’s a heck of a player. [I] congratulated him on a great game and [said] glad I don’t have to see him again.”
(On Tennessee’s pass rush)
“I think that is a key. That’s where as a team you have to do the things necessary. The defense has to stop them. We can’t give them those big runs. We can’t let them get out ahead of us. We have to keep them off balance. You are correct, in predictable pass they’re very difficult to block those guys. That’s what makes it hard. I thought our offense did a great job. Again, all of us can do better. To put up those kind of numbers is pretty darn good, but it is hard for us when we get off-balance. We take shots and we get behind the chains, and it’s hard to block those guys.”
(On struggling to force Tennessee into third down situations)
"Third down was the key. We couldn't get them to third down. They were making too much hay on first and second down. They mix things up and put a lot of stress on you. We tried many different things, but even when we played it straight, they were getting five or six tough yards. That is where we have to sturdy up. They did a nice job of keeping us off balance. There were parts where it gets frustrating because we didn't execute on some of the things we had to do."
(On needing passing to help balance the offense)
"We have our opportunities and plays. Part of it is protection. They have some dynamic pass rushers and a talented team. We moved the ball, but you are always striving for balance."
(On Stephen Johnson's completion droughts throughout the game)
"Tennessee's pass-rushers kept him uncomfortable. There's a fine balance with us taking shots on first and second down. If we miss, we are behind the chains. That's a tough spot to play. We need to play ahead of the chains. Our strength is in our run game. Our defense has to play better than they did today. If we can keep it close, we can run it and throw when we have opportunities. It's always a combination of things. It's not just on Stephen. It's protection, catching the ball, and taking shots."
(On moving forward and working to become bowl eligible)
"We have to continue to push forward and learn with every opportunity. We have to get better each and every day. Our team has to bounce back. I think it is very important that we have come a long way. We aren't going backwards. We have to continue to push forward. This next week is a next opportunity. We have to approach it and challenge it the same way we always do. We have to find ways to make plays in big moments in big games. I think our preparation was good. Our players' effort was good. We have to execute the plays that are there for us. We knew we were going to be under stress. Tennessee is a talented football team. They are banged up, but so are we. They came in preseason top-10 for a reason. They're a big, physical team."
Denzil Ware, DE
(On how do you feel after this game)
“No one feels good after a loss. I feel like we left some things out on the field. We have to come back and watch film Monday and see what we need to correct. Tennessee is a great team. They have a great leader at the quarterback position and a good backfield. You have to give a lot of respect to them. I feel like we left a lot on the field, and there is a lot that we have to get better on for next week.”
(On Josh Dobbs)
“Joshua Dobbs is a great player and quarterback. He earned my respect today. He is a great leader on the field. He never flinched when he was controlling the offense even in pressure situations. I give a lot of respect to him, and I cannot wait to see what he does in the league.”
(On Kentucky’s injuries)
“You’re going to have injuries every game. Every week someone is going to banged up. You can’t play a full season with everyone 100% healthy. We just have to go out there and play our game.”
Eli Brown, LB
(On giving up a bunch of points)
“They played more physical than us. They came right at us. You have to give credit where credit is due. They came on a mission, and we should’ve stepped up. We have to be physical when coach tells us to and take that into our next game. We’re all together and no one is sitting back.”
(On if he was surprised at how physical Tennessee was)
“No, It is a SEC game. You can’t be surprised, we played Tennessee. Next time, we just have to step it up.”
(On what did Tennessee do and missing Jordan Jones)
“Basically they ran to the outside and cut it back. It was a different feeling [with Jordan being out] because I haven’t played a whole game. Usually I rotate in with Jordan. Going through practice there is a lot of reps, but the plays we called in the game I barely had any reps on. Courtney Love was next to me, in the game, helping me out, making sure I got into the right spot. Me and Jordan always help each other out and every time I came to the sideline he would coach me up, and I love him for that.”
Boom Williams, RB
(On Tennessee being tough in the red zone)
“It was mostly things we weren’t getting done. Those guys are good. They have a good defense and players. For us I think it was just execution. When you don’t have all eleven guys doing their job against a team like that, you have to settle for field goals. We needed to score touchdowns on a couple of those.”
(On frustration of losing a game with 400+ rushing yards)
“It’s frustrating all around. We didn’t get the win. We came up short in the red zone a couple of times, and against a good team like this, some of those have to be touchdowns instead of field goals.”
(On if he ever imagined rushing for that many yards and not getting a win)
“No. I’ve never seen anything like it but it happened so we have to go back to the drawing board and see the thing we can correct. We have to get ready for another opportunity next week.”
Butch Jones, Tennessee Head Coach
“Hard fought, very very good team victory. I thought we played complementary football, and that was great to see. Obviously running the ball like we did, I think we had a season high of 376 yards rushing, averaged 9.2 yards per rush. I believe we only had five third downs the entire game, which means you’re winning first downs, mixed downs, first and second down. I thought our offensive line came off the ball really well. What can I say about the return of Alvin Kamara and Cameron Sutton? I think that’s a great story. They’re selfless individuals who put the team first and really wanted to play. They were determined and they willed themselves to getting back healthy. I thought that really sparked our football team. Defensively, obviously a lot of stuff to correct and improve upon, but the one thing I thought was glaring in this game was our red zone efficiency defensively. I believe we only gave up two touchdowns in six trips. I thought that was big particularly early on in the game. I thought we were able to throw the football well. I thought Josh Dobbs did some really good things with running and throwing the ball. I thought we had a really good game plan offensively. I like the way we attacked and we threw the ball down the field. I’m just happy for this team, we’re in a two-game playoff, and again, I thought they had great energy, great excitement, and we have a lot of momentum right now, but as we know it’s a week-to-week season and we have to be ready for Missouri coming in here. But I’m just proud of our players with the resolve and the resiliency. You have individuals like LaTroy Lewis and Kyle Phillips playing inside, we challenged Kendal Vickers all week long about playing inside and being a warrior, but again, just proud of our players, there’s a lot of things that we need to go back and improve, which we will, but a good team win.”
(On the offense’s first down production)
“I thought we had very good balance. When we threw the football, we threw it down the field. We were efficient, our receivers ran good routes. It all starts with protection up front though, our offensive line really provided a clean pocket where Josh could sit in the home position, and then Josh obviously delivered the throws. Good quarterback play is a lot of times a byproduct of everyone around him, and Josh did a great job, but our offensive front, our backs did a good job, our tight ends, and our wide receivers. But if you’re efficient and can be balanced on first down, you’ve got a chance to be successful.”
(On when he knew Alvin Kamara and Cameron Sutton were going to be available to play)
“I told our officials before the game, I said, ‘I’m proud to tell you that today when we walk out for the coin toss, three out of four of our captains will be in helmets, shoulder pads and uniforms,’ whereas we haven’t had that luxury. It was a game time decision, but they practiced all week long. And again, it’s just an attribute to those individuals, first of all, these individuals could have easily sat out and said ‘I’m done’ and started getting ready for the NFL, but instead, they wanted to be a part of this football team and help us win, and to me, that speaks volumes about their character and what this football program means to them.”
(On the absence of Evan Berry and how it affected the game)
“We did miss him, but really it was up front. I’m not pleased with the way we played on special teams. We haven’t played that well all year. So we’ll go back and we’ll look at the video, but that’s not our standard, nor our expectation. But I did think the big return on the sky kick near the end of the game by Marquill Osborne changed field position and gave the momentum back to us. And that’s when Josh was able to capitalize on a big touchdown run. I thought that was big.”
(On the status of Todd Kelly Jr.)
“I don’t know anything on TK. I’ll know more later obviously, but again, Stephen [Griffin] is one of those individuals that has been injured and worked his way back. He’s worked very hard. And you never know when your time is coming. He’s another individual that was a game time decision, and he was there and he created a turnover, which was a big turnover.”
(On Derek Barnett beating double and triple teams today)
“Him and I just spoke about that, and I said that's a great compliment. I know a couple of their coaches looked for him after the game and I said that I talked to him. That's a great compliment when they have to change their scheme or their protection for you whether it's chipping with a tight end, or a back or double team. And that lends itself for other individuals to create one-on-one matchups. Corey Vereen did a good job as well, but that's a compliment to Derek. I said that every day you know that teams are game-planning for you so we have to continue to get better and better. Again, what can I say about him? He works every day. I love him. He's the poster child for toughness in our football program, but it's a compliment."
(On what meant more: Alvin Kamara and Cam Sutton coming back to play or wanting to come back and play)
“[That] they wanted. Again, it speaks volume for their competitive character, for their passion, their love for their teammates and their love for this program. It would have been easy. It's been a little bit of a longer process for Cam, and really we had kind of circled the Missouri game as his return date, so he's actually a week ahead of where we scheduled. We live in a SportsCenter society. When we all go home tonight, we're going to turn SportsCenter on and all we see are the highlights. What we don't see is him in the training room at 7 a.m. or him in the training room eight, nine, ten times a day to get himself in order to play. To me, I love those two individuals, and like Alvin said, he goes, 'Coach, it was like a long time coming.' I give them a lot of credit."
(On Cam Sutton coming back and the experience the defense gained playing at different position)
“It's great examples. Again, you've had individuals willing to play other positions to help the team win. We're going to need more of that. Obviously, we need to get some things shored up in a hurry with this two game stretch, but it's a football team that has really come together and they've been doing this all season long. It's a great illustration for everyone in our program. The exciting thing is, like I told them, never take winning for granted. This was a great win, and I see that in our players' mindset and mentality. We changed a lot of things up on them this week with the schedule. Playing a noon game, you have to completely change your body clocks and we changed everything from breakfast mandatory at certain times, mimicking our pregame meal, to changing our practice format so we're not practicing in the dark but we're practicing at daytime. Just all those little things that we changed up to get their body clocks ready for a noon start."
(On the defense)
"That's a prideful group. We have to get that corrected and the rush yards and the big plays that we gave up in the run game. From the sideline, I think a lot of them were misfits. We misfit too many tackles. We'll go back to work, but it's resolve and resiliency. Again, we rallied to make them kick field goals as opposed to touchdowns, and that gave us an opportunity."
(On the misfits)
"I'll know a little bit more when I watch the video, but I thought we misfit some runs whether it's a linebacker, whether it's a safety or whether it was a five-technique coming down on some zone-blitz deals that occupy his gap. I'll know a little bit more when we meet on Monday, and I'll be able to let you know after I watch the video."
(On the defensive miscues and resiliency)
"Well, you're exactly right. We gave up the long run. We have four-and-one, we have a pre-snap penalty, and then I think the next series we're off the field and we get a personal foul. But [there was] consistency, no blink and no panic. [They were] very poised and had great resolve. Snap and clear. That's kind of our program's motto, snap and clear. And you can see that on the personal foul penalty that extended a drive. I think after that we forced a three-and-out, so that was good as well."
(On Tennessee's explosive plays)
"Huge. There's a number of times where we answered their scores and that was big because football is a game of momentum, and you're responsible for creating your own momentum. All of a sudden, they start to get the momentum, and then we come back and we top it off with seven points. I think the other thing too is defensively doing a good job in the red zone and offensively scoring in the red zone, coming away with seven points as opposed to three points. Red zone efficiency on both sides of the ball was big."
(On Josh Dobbs)
"We just knew that we needed to run him, and Josh is really effective. He can run the football and throw the football and that opens up so many things for us offensively. It all starts up front. I thought our offensive line did a very good job. They provided the clean pocket for him a number of times but also the running lanes. I thought Josh did a good job of checking to the plays that we need to. There's a lot of times that we put a lot of things on his shoulders in terms of three or four plays at once that he has to make a decision of which play to go to, whether it's running pass options or to just check with me. I thought he did a really good job. He had a great command of the line of scrimmage and a great command performance."
Corey Vereen, DL
(On adjusting to Kentucky playing differently than they played on film)
“I mean definitely when you prepare for someone the whole week and they show you something different, there is always an adjustment period, but I feel like we should make adjustments and need to do a better job of making adjustments on the fly.”
(On Kentucky moving the ball for over 600 yards)
“Yeah, very [frustrating]. I mean, just in terms of our defense, I thought that we didn’t play up to our standards in terms of rushing defense. So yes, I was upset.”
(What made the defense more effective when Kentucky was in the red zone)
“It was just a bunch of guys on defense just hunkering down and blocking for every pass. I feel like when you get in the red zone it makes it more apparent that we needed to stop that, and I felt like we just got the job done today in the red zone.”
Derek Barnett, DE
(On being double-teamed)
“I mean it can be a little frustrating. I mean, you got to keep grinding. The pass rush is difficult, so just keep working to get home. It doesn’t frustrate me when other people make plays like Vereen. He was balling today. He had a great performance today, so when my teammates are eating it doesn’t frustrate me.”
(On being successful in keeping Kentucky out of the end zone)
“It was just a mindset to keep them out of the end zone. We knew we gave them a few big runs, a couple big runs. When we get in the red zone we always think about just giving three points – stop them to a field goal – and that’s what we did. We will go back and watch film. I think just a lot of gap integrity issues. Just stay in your gap. It is nothing they’re doing, it’s things we are messing up on.”
(On missing some potential sacks)
“I just got to stay patient and keep on working. I go back and watch film. I need to fix my leverage some but, like I said, you just have to keep grinding up front. I mean it’s tough. It’s not easy, so I just keep on working.”
Josh Dobbs, QB
(On breaking rush record)
“It’s funny because my mom told me I was in the ball park, around that number. So obviously when you’re on the field, you’re just playing and not thinking about it; but it’s definitely an honor to be able to do that. You celebrate records, and it’s an awesome feeling.”
(On having Kamara and Sutton back on the field)
“It’s always great to have Cam and Alvin - two captains that we have on this team - back for me and the entire offense. Cam being our best defensive back and Alvin being our best running back, having those two back and playing, at a high level, is always great to see.”
(On trusting returners and newcomers on the field)
“There’s always a high level of trust between every guy across the offense. Everybody makes plays in practice, and that’s where you get your trust. So when you come out on a Saturday, each and every person when they step up is expected to go out and make plays as we did today. Across the board we made plays.”
(On the effects of a false start)
“We just had to come out and execute, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot. If you look at the false start as a negative then it’s going to negatively affect your play for the rest of the game. If you look at it as a learning opportunity and ‘say how can we get better?’ then you’ll play productively throughout the game. We did the latter and were able to perform well.”
(On playing on a bigger platform)
“It’s just intense but you can’t let the intensity affect your level of play. You just have to go out and play confidently and play with a lot of energy, have fun and enjoy the game. You have to expect to win when you step on the field. It’s definitely cool to be in the picture. We came as freshman wanting to get Tennessee back in the picture and be in the position we are in today, so now we have to take advantage of this opportunity. “
Alvin Kamara, RB
(On competiveness between he and John Kelly)
“We push each other. With him obviously being younger than me, I’m always pushing. Honestly, I really talk a lot of smack to him. I think today he was at 90 yards and I told him he wasn’t going to go get one hundred. He takes every challenge to heart. He runs with passion and he wants to score every time he touches the ball. With the challenge-like nature that we have in our room with the offense, you see Dobbs run the ball too, and we all are trying to keep up with him. It’s just fun. We have a lot of fun.”
(On returning after injury)
“I feel pretty good. I had a lot of time to rehab and rehab well enough to get back onto the field. It feels really good to be back out there with my teammates and coaches, just playing again. It feels real good.”
(On what motivated him to return to the game)
“We’ve got unfinished business. We’ve got business to handle. The season isn’t over. I made it my goal to come back if I could, so here I am.”
(On reaction of John Kelly’s performance)
“We’ve all known about John. He works hard and the stuff he’s doing on Saturday’s he does in practice. We’re not surprised. When he throws John Kelly in the game, that’s what you expect. It’s been a couple runs where I turned around and put my hands up for a touchdown when he was running because that’s what I expect from him. So I don’t really praise him a lot, I just say good job because that’s what I know he can do. I expect it from him, we all expect it from him.”