Mark Stoops Monday Press Conference

Kentucky Football
Pre-New Mexico State News Conference Quotes
Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, Ky.Sept. 12, 2016

Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops

Opening statement
“Very disappointed with the way we played. There is no getting around that. I had thought we had moved past that. It was not acceptable. We need to play better and we will. It will start with simplifying some things and getting our guys to play with that passion and energy that we need to play with. We are very disappointed and we will get back to work here today.”

On his message to the fans …
“Well, again, we have showed that we can play some good football. We know and we have already been down that road that it is not acceptable to not play four quarters. But our team will play with that passion and that energy that our fan base wants to see. We will do that. I promise you that. This team has some character and we will get back at it today. We fundamentally need to go back and get better. We cannot beat anybody until we stop beating ourselves. Those are things that we will get cleaned up today. The first one is just to fundamentally play better football and we have to simplify things on both sides of the ball to make sure that we execute. We have to play with that passion and that energy that our fans want to see. We saw that. We saw us come out (against Southern Miss), but we need to do that for 60 minutes. We will do that. We played very good football the last time we were here for a half and we are going to do that for 60 minutes. That I guarantee that this team will play hard and fundamental football. I believe in these players and I hope the fans do as well. It is a long season and we will get better in certain cases, there is no doubt about that.”

On simplifying things and what that means …
“It will obviously change in gameplan and will be simplified. There are several breakdowns we have had this year in the secondary that are unacceptable and we cannot have that. You can’t give up some of things that we are doing. You can’t have guys that are unsure and do not play on the edge with energy. That is where it is not OK. That is where our fans – I am sure – have some frustrations and I do too. We said our players meaned well and worked hard and none of that was a lie. You saw that for a half. We lost our focus and concentration in the second half of the first game. Second half, I could talk until I was blue in the face about handling adversity and responding and we didn’t for whatever reason. That we will get fixed. What that looks like, as it starts today, with us going out and practicing and going back and fundamentally working and getting our football IQ higher. We need to have a higher football IQ. We have guys and we have to be able to put them in position (to succeed.) We have who we have and we have some inexperience and we have to be able to get them to play better on the defensive side. Offensively, you throw a freshman in the mix at left tackle and it kind of muddies things up a little bit too.  It is our job to put them in a position to be successful and that is where we will get back and change things up and fundamentally get better and get our football IQ better. Again, you cannot beat anybody until you stop beating yourselves and that is going to be a big message for us today as we get back to practice.”

On Jordan Jones’ comments after the game Saturday …
“I don’t know exactly what his intent was, but Jordan backs it up. I wouldn’t use the word quit, I would say I would rather have guys respond the way he does. That is a beautiful quote for you guys, but I don’t think he means it that way, I think he means it like we need to respond. Coaches talk about it all the time, if you get hit in the jaw on the first play of the game, we talk about that all the time. I don’t think we respond the way that he responds. I am good with him. He wants to back it up, then he needs to go play like that. I don’t think he means any harm, he meant it like we need to play with that passion and energy that we all want to see and our fans want to see and that we expect.”

On the players having a lack of belief that they can win …
“I certainly don’t think there is any doubt that we didn’t have a lot of faith last week. Once you get hit on the first play of the game – it didn’t appear to me that we had a lot of belief in winning that game. That is disappointing and we have to change it. Until it changes on the field, and you and I can talk about it and write about it, until it changes that is when it will change out there. Until we demonstrate that we can handle a punch and play the game the way it is supposed to be played. And we will do that. I am not sure when, but hopefully it will start this week and we will break that door down and we will move forward.”

On if any players had good performances against Florida other than Jordan Jones …
“I thought (offensive tackle) Kyle Meadows improved from the first game to the second game as far as when things were going bad we really worked hard with him about focusing and doing his job. He maybe had one missed assignment that led to the big hit at the first of the game, but then he really came back and had a great game and really fought the rest of the way, which was good to see for him. He played one of his better games against some talented guys. Defensively, Jordan was all over the field but no one else played exceptionally well. I am not very pleased. We are not playing very well in the secondary. You can’t give up big plays like we have been giving up.”

On how to get players to believe …
“Yeah, it is demonstrated performance and we will do that. We will play. We have showed that we can do that. Again, listen, it is not OK to play a quarter good, a series good, we all know. Before you write anything that I don’t know what I am talking about, I realize you have to play a 60-minute game. The point is that our players know that they can play. Until we do it and play for a full game and play and win and beat a quality opponent, that is when we will move forward as a program. They can and they will. You know, we need to move past taking a beating like we did, but Florida has been doing good things for a long time. They have players and athletes and guys that I am familiar with. As we go we will get better and better and we will do that. You asked me a question and that is how we will do it when we have demonstrative performance. When we make that play with the game on the line. When we make that catch and make that stop and make that interception when it hits us between the numbers. That is when it will change.”

On Landon Young’s play …
“He did some good things. He showed the talent that we knew he had for a young guy. Obviously, he got thrown into the mix playing at left tackle in The Swamp when you are getting beat. That is not exactly how you want to enter a game. But really showed who he is and the player that he is going to be. He really showed flashes of real talent and the rest will come with experience and strength. But he is going to be a good player and did some good things.”

On if he expects Cole Mosier or George Asfo-Adjei to be back for Saturday …
“I feel pretty confident that George will be back, unsure about Cole at this point.”

On getting something out of the 4-3 set defensively …
“Yeah, we did. We got some mileage out of the four-down front in their 11 personnel sets and one-back sets that I mentioned after the game. Again, there are things we could do better there. We were getting cut off with some cracks and crack replace (plays). Fundamental. Again, fundamentally we need to do some things better. That is what does get frustrating when you have been down that road with a different guy here and different play here. I have talked to the players constantly about putting themselves into position to get some mental reps because it is just semantics about who it is at another time. Whether it is a deep middle play, we let our corner on the screen go, or crack replace – just fundamental football. That is what gets frustrating but that is what we have to get better at. We did some good things. We met our players on the edges a little bit more defensive line-wise. We secured some run plays that hurt us the week before out of 11 personnel and had some answers out of that. We did not play very well out of the run game against 12 personnel in the big sets like I mentioned after the game and those aggravating yards we need to harden up and get more firm in the run game there and have some better answers. You are always worried about that and that is where they get their time (of possession) and that is just one-on-one football to a DB coach. After they do that then they mash it up and hit it up field. That was the second roundhouse right to our chin there with the deep ball and that was deflating to us. Again, you have to face adversity better than that.”

On Drew Barker’s performance …
“I was surprised that he didn’t respond much better. He did get hit on the first play and he can play better and will. He knows that. We need to play better around him and give him some protection and get open. It’s everybody. But he can take his part as well.”

On if you have to rebuild his confidence ….
“No. He is a resilient guy and that comes with the territory. He has no chance but to go out there and play.”

On New Mexico State …
“They have some guys that can get down the field and they have a running quarterback. Anytime you have the dimension of the quarterback run game, you know those are aggravating teams and aggravating yards because again you are accounting for 12 guys essentially if the quarterback runs. That is what grabs my attention immediately.”

On New Mexico State’s running game …
“We have to have a good plan to have two on the quarterback when we need to, as well as you can do that. With doing that it opens yourself up that you have to be able to cover guys. Anytime they have that dimension, you have to be able to hold up in your coverage when you are adding another guy to the quarterback. Again, just like you mentioned you have to schematically have that in your plan and when you don’t have two on the quarterback you have to fundamentally play the right way and put some pressure on.”

On Benny Snell returning kickoffs …
“No, we just wanted to try Benny in that and I am sure that Sihiem (King) will get another chance as well, but we wanted to give Benny some turns.”

On Benny Snell climbing up the depth chart at running back …
“He has been doing that all through camp. He is just steady and strong and consistent. We will see where it goes. As you know, there are probably 3-4-5 guys there that need to get some touches, we have to possess the ball longer to get some more plays.”

On working some of the younger cornerbacks in …
“Yeah, I plan on working Jordan (Griffin) in there more. Davonte (Robinson) we would like to redshirt if we could. He is preparing to play if need be, but Jordan needs to get more reps, yes.”

On how the coaches regroup and approach the slow start to the season …
“Well, the routine stays the same. We get in Sunday morning and grade the film. Everybody watches it on the plane with their mobile computer once. Then Sunday morning grades it and then I watch all sides and meet with the coaches to discuss the game and what we did right and what we did wrong and the things we need to change and then we go back to work generally on the next opponent. Then we make our corrections and get ready to make the corrections with our team on Monday. We had to spend some extra time analyzing ourselves, that is for sure. Yesterday was different in that you had to go through the film several times and go through the first two games to make sure we are doing things and putting our players in a position to be successful. You see when we execute and do things right we have a chance and when we don’t, we don’t (have a chance). That goes back to fundamentally playing the game the right way and having a higher football IQ. That is what we are concentrating on ourselves today and today’s routine is different in that way.”

On having to balance scrapping things through two games …
“Yeah, there is a little of both. You always have to stay the course and cannot have knee-jerk reactions, but you would be a fool to not look at things and say, ‘some things have to change, some things have to get better.’ That is our job as a coach and that is my job and I understand that. You have to stick to the things that you know will help you win and stay the course there and stay steady to the things that I know through the course of my career are going to help us win. But you also have to adjust and do the things that put your players in a position to execute what you are asking them to do.”

On Florida having 28 points off turnovers and how you limit that …
“We know we cannot do that. We can’t handle it and are not built that way. When we played poor football and the defense cannot get off the field and aren’t creating turnovers that is a bad recipe. We have to protect the football and be smart with it.”

On third-down defense …
“Two weeks in a row that is always the game. Watch pro games, and I caught a little bit of the game late last night, and third downs are a bear for a lot of people. They will catch you with a screen and get you off balance. You bring the pressure and they catch you with a screen. They did that to us against Saturday. They picked off our player. We had two guys on the screen and they blocked us both and squirted out on us. Then you play coverage and they make a good catch, there are a lot of things about trying to get the other group off balance and it does get frustrating defensively when you are doing those things. So you heat them up one time and maybe you get them or you get a screen popped on us or maybe they throw one over your head and you have to have some guys win some one-on-ones. You have heard me talk about the mirrors and that is what my DBs over the years that I have coached have heard me say and that these guys here have heard me say. There is no getting around it. You better man up and win some one-on-ones. You are not going to win them all. We play very good players and they are going to win some, but we have to get our share. Right now, we are not getting our share.”

On how he is doing …
“I am great. I am not happy. How can you be? This is not a job, this is my life. But I promise you I am going to get back to work and I cannot wait to get back on that field today. That is for sure. It is never fun for coaches that way. But the thing about it is, no matter what and where you are at it is always the same, it is just different. It is same. You think that being a coordinator at Florida State is easy? We have some different cats here and there, but it is not easy.”

On if he is disappointed in the secondary …
“I am, I am disappointed. That is that fine thing. I try to talk nice about them but then they listen to it. But if you don’t do the work, it isn’t worth anything. They are good kids and mean well, they just don’t understand yet. And they are sophomores and I will be in their meeting today. Their football IQ is going to go up.”

On how much the secondary struggles are because they are trying to do too much …
“I think that is always part of it when things go wrong in general. Not just them, but for others. You want to do their part and then do other parts and that leads to really bad problems. That was part of it in game one. We showed that to them on film and got those things corrected and then other issues popped up. That is all part of it.”

On Kobie Walker’s status …
“He was suspended last week and we will see, to be honest with you. I am not ready to make a decision on that just yet.”

On Jordan Bonner being on the depth chart … 
“He is coming along. He is getting better and working his way into it. We won an appeal on him, so he wasn’t cleared to play until right before game one. So he is working his way into it now.”

On if that was an NCAA appeal …
“Yeah.”

On the interception on the screen pass …
“Yeah, a lot of people do that. Anytime that you have three guys into the boundary right there – just about anybody that we play and we do it – we will run that screen. So he knew that was coming, but it was by our execution. We have got to go block them. Still not a great call by the way they rolled up into it because we have to get two and their back can be tough. But we get them all blocked we at least get 4-5 yards without making anybody miss. But we have to get them blocked. Not the best call with the way they rolled over top of it because again they had two guys in it, but we got one and missed one. I wish he would’ve handed it off. At that point, we could have handed it as well.”

On Boom Williams getting more of a workload and if that is part of simplifying things …
“If you look at Saturday, it doesn’t look like we did anything good, but if you look at certain plays and break it down, when we were spread out and handed Boom the ball we were getting some decent yards there. Then what would happen would be a negative yardage play and some movement up front on a certain play here and there would move us back behind the chains and then not getting some third downs. But just running the ball, I thought our offensive line did a good job and Boom ran the ball pretty well at times. Again, you cannot do it once or twice and then the next first down you get a defensive lineman movement for minus two and now you are second and 12 and in a little bit of a hurry instead of second and five and moving down the field now. You could always second guess yourself. We were moving the ball well at times and then we try a double move and got intercepted by an unbelievable play by an All-American and those are the chances that we take. In hindsight, you would say, ‘Man, let’s just stay with it and keep on grinding it out there a little bit.’ We were moving it and got a couple of first downs and we’re running the ball pretty efficiently and try a double move and the guy makes an unbelievable play and then quickly that crushes you in a game like that.”

On how to get the offense going against New Mexico State …
“I think again, you go back to the things that I talked about early in the press conference. We have to worry about us. We have to fundamentally get better and play the game the way it is meant to be played. I don’t care who is doing what   if you don’t fundamentally play the game the right way and stop beating yourselves, you are not going to beat anybody. I think it starts there with us executing and us blocking and us running the right routes and us getting open and us catching the ball and just being efficient that we showed we can do.”

On Stephen Johnson’s play …
“Yeah, some good things and some bad things obviously. Again, we put him in a tough situation right there at their place with an awful lot of pressure on him. So we will expand the things that he can do. He can throw it and will throw it and he will get better.”

On being able to stop the run and how that will help the defense …
“I don’t think there is any question that we have to be stronger against the run. I agree with that and we need to get that fixed and we need to look at some things and what we are doing and making sure we can execute and I anticipate that we will get better at that. Y’all can sit there and if you want to stop the run just load everybody up and when they throw one over the top you just can blame one guy. They are running all over you, then you have a lot of problems.”

On lack of fundamentals on the defensive side being inexperience …
“Yeah, it is really difficult. But you don’t care and neither do our fans. I get it. We have to put them in a position where they can do it. That is where it is not all lost and where it is all gone. We will get better and these guys do need experience. They are seeing things for the first time and it stinks. I would like to use another word, but I better not.”

On if he has a mentor that he consults with …
“I do. I actually visited with a friend last night and he gave me some ideas about today. I will talk with some guys. Bret Bielema and I talked a little and he gave me some ideas. I try to talk to guys, yeah.”

On how much the team needs something positive on Saturday …
“Yeah, demonstrated performance. We just need to go play. We know that was a tough situation on Saturday. Our fans don’t like seeing that, we don’t like seeing that and it has to change. We have to respond better and we have to play better than that. We have shown we can play some good football. We know it is not OK to not play for 60 minutes. And a lot of that is execution and I think you learn from that. You learn from that first game and the excitement and I talked to the players about that. I mean, we were so jacked up to play that first game and we were so jacked up two hours before the game and we go play an unbelievable first half. Well, guess what, you have to play a second half. And that is new to this team and all of it that you have to deal with. But you know, you have another opportunity so how do you handle your pregame routine, how do you handle the fact that you have to have that same emotion for 60 minutes? That is what our fans expect and that is what I expect and our coaches expect. That is where we have to continue to build depth and continue to have a scheme simply enough where you can play more people and they can go in and execute what you are asking them to do and bring some guys along. That is what we are going to do. We are going to get back to work. This game is going to be behind us. That is the bad thing that I talked about a week ago, that I have to wait until Monday to address it with the team and you guys. We should meet on Sundays. I thought about going on Mondays with the team, but I just felt like you could get more practice in on Monday than on Sunday. Some people practice on Sunday and give them off on Monday. This is the way that we are doing it so it has to wait until today to clear the air and move on. But we are going to get back out there today and change up our routine as far as what we do on Monday and we are going to fundamentally get better, our football IQ is going to get better and we are going to play with passion and energy.”