Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes

Sept. 27, 2014

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Kentucky Head Mark Stoops

COACH STOOPS: All right. That was a thing of beauty. (Laughter.) For a defensive guy, it was. Very proud of our effort. It's great to get a victory. It was nice to see our team fight through adversity. It wasn't easy, we had to dig in, we knew it wasn't going to be easy and to come away with a victory.

Very proud of the group effort. Appreciate the great support by our fan base. We felt it, there was great energy in the stadium today.

Q. Talk about the beauty of the defensive side. How much fun that was for you at least on that side of the ball to watch those guys do what they did?

COACH STOOPS: It was good. It was a lot of fun. I felt like the guys played hard, and they played very hungry, like we talked about all week, but we were also on point with things, with different shifts motions, different pressures that we had to audible to certain sets, and we were on the money. They executed well and played with great desire. You put that together, and you're always going to have a great chance. So I felt like it was really good that way.

Q. Was it surprising to see them play well?

COACH STOOPS: Well, no, I wouldn't say surprising. We expect them to play well. We have a chance to be good in all phases. We know we're not overwhelmingly great in any phase, but if we play together and all sides play to our capabilities, we have a chance to win a lot of games. If we don't, then we won't, and that's like a lot of teams. We have to put it together. We felt like, you know, we have some ingredients to have a good defense, and I just liked the way they've been preparing, the way they've been practicing and, you know, you have to play "on edge" defense or you'll get embarrassed.

Q. (Question regarding UK’s defense.)

COACH STOOPS: Well, you have a couple of ingredients and we have a couple of good D-linemen, and it's good to start with them, and even the inside guys who haven't had much experience played very tough, and doing a very good job inside. And Bud and "Z" are getting good pressure and doing a lot of good things on the edges. We're getting better and better at linebacker. The one long run today, the 28-yard gain we just got a little eager at linebacker and ran out of our gap, and that comes with that balance of doing too much or too little again, because they present different problems with big sets and for the most part we're on point with that, but we messed that one up.

Q. Are you continuing to coach 'em up on the interc?

COACH STOOPS: Absolutely, been working on that. But it comes with pressure and it comes with good team defense and we're getting more and more playmakers. Even Marcus McWilson's was a big play on fourth down, and that was really good for him because that was a little thing that he did within that scheme that made that play. Those are the details that we need to continue to work on, and it was good for him to have that success, because he's pressuring unless he gets a certain protection, and then he dropped out, and he knocked it down and got the pick, and those are little things that we're executing better.

Q. Talk about Towles and his ball security, or lack thereof.

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we got to hold on to it. That can't happen. That's frustrating. We'll get it fixed. It's -- I could tell, you know, we just got to do a better job of keeping his hands dry. I could tell he was shaking his hands coming off the field. They were very wet and we gotta do a better job, and he's gotta do a better protecting the football. He wasn't getting rid of it as quick as he normally does, even when he wasn't slipping, he was sitting back there a little too long, looking a little too indecisive today, and he was a off a little bit for him, he didn't play as well as he did in the first three games, and that's where other aspects of your team has to step up and help out. Patrick will play good next week, and he will get those things fixed.

Q. Mark, talk about the older guys, that had not won an SEC game, how they felt to win an SEC game?

COACH STOOPS: It meant a lot. They were excited, because like we talked about in the locker room, things very rarely unfold like the script is supposed to go.

For us, they turned the ball over like that and left a punt late and silly things that we can't do that we gotta get fixed, but to hang in there and win is gratifying for the whole team.

Q. (No microphone.)

COACH STOOPS: It did, it did, and certainly when you make a few mistakes and things, the whole group loses confidence, and you have to find another way to win the game. Sometimes the quarterback, and offensively or defensively, whatever it is, you're not going to be perfect that day, sometimes, so it was good to see the defense step up.

Q. Coach, happy to get the first SEC win in three years?

COACH STOOPS: Again, I've only been here one year and one game, so that one year was long! (Laughter.) So let's not talk about that anymore! All right? I'm proud of the group. I am proud for the victory, and really for the fans and the people. I said when I got here in my press conference that it was going to take a big commitment by a lot of people and a lot of people have at bought in, and a lot of people are doing a lot of good things, our fans, our administration and our team, and it feels good to deliver for them, and we hope to continue. We're also proud of the fact that we played two SEC games this year and gave ourselves a chance to win both.

Q. You had an expanding role for Boom today. Do you envision more for him?

COACH STOOPS: We'll see. You know what else is great, there were things in there for Boom to get the ball and few of the other backs, and a guy like Jojo wasn't getting the touches early, some of the other guys were. Early in the season, when maybe some of our freshmen weren't getting the ball, they were mopey, and Jojo was up on that sideline, grinding it out, being a team player, and at the end of the game when we started to go to the direct snap, Wildcat stuff, he had some great runs and that's the kind of maturity we need. I'm proud of Jojo for that, and there is a lot of other guys but that's just one example of some of the guys being unselfish.

Q. Mark, is it crazy to think that had a few things gone your way in Gainesville, that you guys could be undefeated going into South Carolina?

COACH STOOPS: I'm proud that we gave ourselves a chance. I can't look back. It's frustrating. I had two weeks to beat myself up over that one, and that was tough enough, but we have moved on, and I am proud that we gave ourselves a chance to win that game and gives us something to build on as we move forward through the SEC.

Q. The call on the one-yard run --

COACH STOOPS: I made the call to go for it. I didn't yell that bad call (Laughter.) We'll get that fix! I'll get a good play in there next week.

Q. (Question about special teams.)

COACH STOOPS: We were motivated. Coach Naivar did a great job with that unit. We challenged them all week. We were going to mix it up a bit, but we were going to kick it deep. The first kick-off we shanked it a little bit, we were going deep left right to them, and I thought the cover guys rose to that challenge, because he made a big impact the week before, and our guys were challenged by that, and really were fired up and did a nice job with coverage, and Coach did a nice job just tweaking a few things, but most of it is getting off blocks and just getting to the football.

Q. Has J.D. Harmon sort of become the leader of that group?

COACH STOOPS: He's one of them that's in there, he's fired up and willing to help, and it's been good to get him involved more and more.

Q. Halfway there, with 8 games to go do you let yourself think about a bowl game?

COACH STOOPS: No, no, no, I'm worried about -- I've got family friends in it will town, worried about tomorrow and getting ready for next week.

No, we've got to get some things fixed and that's part of it. You know, for our team to think that, you know, we had been playing good and moved the ball pretty well in The Swamp, and then come home and not play as good as we can, and it's a perfect example for our team that things don't go according to script all the time; you just gotta keep on working hard and getting better and our team is realizing that more.

Q. Does that mean you're not keeping your eyes on SEC east standings?

COACH STOOPS: If we go one game at a time and do good and prepare, give ourselves an opportunity to win the next game, then we'll worry about the next game after that. That's been our approach no matter who we're playing. That's it.

Q. What challenges does South Carolina pose?

COACH STOOPS: Coach Spurrier is a fantastic coach that's won a bunch of ball games, always finds ways to move the football, and his teams always play with a lot of confidence and a lot of toughness. And it will be a real challenge. He's been there a long time building that program to where they're a contender in the SEC every year, and we'll be up for a real challenge.

Q. Is this team where you thought it would be at this point, or where you hoped it would be?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I'm pleased with the progression. We're not -- I've said it over and over again, we are not perfect, we're far from it, we're a work in progress but they really have a good attitude, and they've really prepared. I say that over and over, but that's where it's done, what are we doing all week to put ourselves in a position to win games.

Q. Is it fair to say the way you guys played the second half, you would probably lose this game last year?

COACH STOOPS: Maybe, I don't know, but I think it's safe to say, there was no way anybody on that sideline believed we were going to lose that game.

Q. The final few minutes were you thinking about the Vandy game last year when they were running out the clock?

COACH STOOPS: No, not at all.

Q. What was Patrick like after some of those mistakes, coming back to the huddle?

COACH STOOPS: It was frustrating to him and he wasn't as sharp as he's been. I think you all have watched an awful lot of football and you've seen an awful lot of quarterbacks that have been on point and maybe not had their best day and, again it's not always on them, it's protection, it's route running, it's play calling, it's a lot of things. We can never put all that on the quarterback. And I think he would be the first to tell you, sometimes the quarterbacks get too much credit and too much blame and there is a lot of ingredients there.

Patrick will bounce back. He did some good things, I think early on, outside of the pick, he had an awful lot of completions. I think his percentage in the first half was extremely high through the pick and then the dropped ball. All in all, there are just a lot of mistakes, even the muffed punt late, that's some things we've got to coach-up better on that, too. It's my fault, should have told them to get away from it if it's not a clean, perfect punt, get away from it, because we had to get it away at that point.

Q. On defense, was there a key to the first half?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it was a point for us to finish the game. In all sides we try to do that, but certainly defensively. We needed to step up and finish. It was great. It was a shut out, wasn't it? We just can't seem to get one, something always going to happen. (Laughter.)

Q. (No microphone.)

COACH STOOPS: Whatever it takes to get an attitude about them, and I'm never going to put a damper on their enthusiasm, but I'm also never going to lie to 'em either. I tell them pretty much the way it is. I like the way they're playing. I like their attitude, and they mean well, and I've said it, they've got a good heart and they played with a good mind today. You play with a good mind and a good heart, you got a good chance to play good defense.

Again, we played with great passion but I thought we were pretty smart in most of the things we did today as well.

Q. Mark, when they were reviewing that touchdown --

COACH STOOPS: I was worried, yeah, they say it was closed. Hey, just keep on telling myself -- my wife keeps on telling me, hang in there, they're going to come your way sooner or later. So maybe she's right.

Q. Talk about Cole Mosier not starting.

COACH STOOPS: Cole was banged up throughout the week, so he didn't get to practice reps as he needed to, and he got in there some, but didn't have as many reps, and Nick was doing good things and he was healthy and played well from what I can tell. I don't know.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#45 Josh Forrest, LB

On what made the difference for the defense…
“Just the fundamentals, that is all we have been harping on for two weeks now. We wanted to stop the power and counter and things like that.”

On Bud Dupree’s speech to the team about the importance of this win…
“We all kind of knew it, but Bud is our leader so he stepped up and said it and we all kind of followed him.”

On his first SEC Win….
“It is the first one I’ve been a part of. It was a party in the locker room, a lot of dancing. We kind of are enjoying this for now, and tomorrow we have to get back to work.”

#14 Patrick Towles, QB

On his performance today…
“Not good enough, but you know when somebody can’t perform someone else has to step up, and that’s what people did. The defense didn’t give up a touchdown all day; the only touchdown that was scored was on me.”

On the interception returned for a touchdown…
“Was just a bad read, I should have checked it down to my back, and I had really good protection as well.”

On if the SEC losing streak weighed on the team…
“Not really, a win means a lot, I mean we just got beat in hard fashion down in Gainesville, so we had to come back and get a win, and I’m glad we did.”

On the importance of the South Carolina game next week…
“It’s huge because it’s next. They have a really good football team, they are rolling in here and we are going to give them everything we got.”

On if this team is counting down the number of games left needed to reach a bowl game…
“We aren’t counting down, just really trying to count up. We are not satisfied with 6 wins, we want to win as many games as we can. We think we can (reach a bowl) we are half way there and we have 8 games left, so we have a long way to go.”

#11 J.D. Harmon, CB

On the key to the defense …
“Stopping the run. We wanted to stop that run early, to make them throw the ball. Stopping the run was the main thing we wanted to execute and I think we did a good job.”

On how excited Coach Stoops gets when the defense plays well …
“He’s always excited when the defense plays well but he’s equally as excited when offense makes a play, special teams he wants all of our units on offense, defense, special teams to always play fundamentally sound, execute the call.” 

On next week’s game …
“Like Coach Stoops always says, they’re up next. We are going to work and we are going to try and do what we do best and go out there and play at a high level.”

#24 Blake McClain, CB

On how Coach Eliot called the game …
“Coach Eliot, he loves to send the blitz on any down he will send the blitz but it seems like he was calling them in the right moments to get the quarterback sacked. I thought he did a tremendous job.”

On how it feels to have defense play well …
“It feels good just to go out there and hold on what we held them to I don’t think they scored on our defense the whole game. Just to look back on all the hard work we put in last year.”

On Marcus McWilson’s play …
“We have a lot of depth. First, second, third string next guy up, whoever is in there and has a starter’s mentality and Marcus, he made a tremendous play. I’m proud of him”

#2 Bud Dupree, DE

On if he is surprised at how hard the defense played …
“No I’m not surprised. We work hard and basically everyone is doing their job, everyone is making plays, not just one person. Everyone is staying in their gap when they need to stay in their gap and doing all the things right that the coach tells us to do.”

On how things have changed …
“I think this is a different mindset that Coach Stoops has brought to the team. It just a lot of different things and we are practicing hard and we want to win.”

On Coach Stoops’ mindset …
“Coach Stoops is a fiery guy. He makes you believe even when sometimes some people don’t believe in themselves. He will make you believe in yourself.”

#9 Demarco Robinson, WR

On getting an SEC win …
“It feels really good. Everything never goes as planned or goes according to the script, but I’m very happy we fought together as a team today. It feels really good. I just checked my phone and everyone texted me, ‘Finally, Finally, Finally.’”

#18 Boom Williams, RB

On bigger role in the offense …
“I knew I was going to have a little more responsibility this week. Coach (Neal) Brown shot me a text message and has been on me all week saying that I’m going to be in there a lot more. He said he was going to give me the ball more and put me in more blocking situations so I just took that challenge and I just thank coach for respecting me and believing in me.”

On next week’s game against South Carolina …
“You know it’s a big game, but we just want to approach it the way we approach all of our other games and come to practice next week and be focused and get in the film room and watch some film on those guys. South Carolina is a good team and we have respect for those guys. You know it’s going to be a good game; an SEC battle, but we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

On newcomers helping the team …
“All of the freshmen wanted to come in and be able to contribute and help the team. That’s what we’ve done so far.”

On Jojo’s drive at the end of the game
“That’s huge. One thing that helps us in the running back position is we know that we’re good and we can all make carries so selfishness is not something that we have. We believe in everybody and I told him before the game that when he gets that chance, to just go in there and do what he does.”

#67 Cory Johnson, DL

On UK’s defense …
“Our defensive coaches work us every day and we work hard to do stuff like this. We wanted that goose egg, but things didn’t work out. Our guys we balled together.”

On comparison of JUCO to Kentucky …
“You know JUCO was one thing, but you can really see how big games like this are and to win an SEC game. JUCO you still have a nine hour bus ride back after the game.”

On the win and game against South Carolina next week …
“This lets us know that any team that’s placed in front of us, we can win. We’re ready for South Carolina next week, we won’t forget about this win and it’ll give us a little edge.”

Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason

Opening statement …
“Congratulations to Mark Stoops and the Cats, they fought well and hard. They kept themselves in there and we fought back in the second half, just not good enough to get within striking distance. Maybe get a couple field goals, make the game a little more interesting and try to see if that last position was going put us in the game. We just have to continue to work and learn and continue to grow up as well. We struggled a little bit offensively today. This team is a young team and the best thing we can do is do what we can do. That means capitalize on our opportunities and just go out there and get it done. In the end, I am just looking at our team and we’re getting better, we just have to continue to minimize the mistakes and maximize the opportunities.”

On the possession of the ball throughout the game…
“Just the struggle to move the ball inconsistently. There is stuff to do, our defense played well, I felt like every time we took the field that it was going to give ourselves opportunity especially in the second half and get off the field. That’s just the way football is played, sometimes we struggled off the field but we wanted to keep the defense on the field and gain some momentum.”

On being able to score at every spot accept for offense…
“That’s not saying that we can’t score on offense because we can score on offense, we will score on offense. Just didn’t have it today, (Wayde Freebeck) a young kid, got behind the chains a couple times, missing a couple throws so we couldn’t establish any rhythm and the game is a different ball game in the second half. So we had to get into more of throwing game and you know a couple of misses, we don’t keep them up right and turns the ball loose a couple of times - but you would like to have those throws back - but in the end he is still a young quarterback.”

On the quarterback under pressure…
“Yeah I thought he was prepared for that but we talked all week about third and seven-plus, there’s the opportunity to do something, that’s what they did a couple weeks ago I can’t remember who it was but zero-coverage came out and that was what exactly happened. We said you’re going to have to get it out and held onto it the first couple of times but as the game went on we gave him some options but he just held onto it a little bit too long.”

On how hard it is for the quarterback being able to adjust appose to Patton Robinette…
“Yeah absolutely, the question that you’re asking is one that we all know the answer too. He’s played in a lot of ball games (Patton). He understands what to do and how fast guys can go to get the ball out. But again a young kid (Wade) was in situation where he needs to be more rhythmic and you know that is just playing the game.”

Vanderbilt Student-Athletes

#26 Ralph Webb, RB

On the source of the offensive struggles …
“Just executing on the pass game. Their defense took notice, they started noticing, lining up nine guys in the box, so it’s going to be hard to run the ball, against anybody. We just have to spread it out and execute plays a little bit better.”

On the pressure on Wade …
“They just loaded the box, bringing the house. We have to adjust, make adjustments to routes and execute plays.”

On how Wade handled the pressure …
“I thought he was poised in the pocket. He took a few sacks today, but we just have to get the ball off and have him protection, just executing plays.”

On frustrations with not getting many carries …
“I mean, we gotta play the game how it goes. It’s going to be hard to run the ball with eight or nine guys in the box. We just gotta compliment the passing game more, and we’ll get the running game going.”

#50 Andrew Jelks, OT

On UK’s pressure …
“They came out, they showed three DB, eight in the box. We had a young guy at quarterback and we didn’t protect him  better. That’s on us.”

On halftime adjustments to protecting the quarterback …
“We just have to do what we do. We trust Coach Durrell. He’s going to make the calls, we have to execute it.”

On the offense lagging behind the defense and special teams’ success …
“Clearly, the offense comes out and scores no points, we’re lagging behind. They played great on special teams and defense and the offense has to pick up their part.”

On if they aren’t running as much as they’d like …
“Not necessarily. We know when we get down if we’ll want to pass the ball more, depending on our game plan. We have to trust what we do and get it done.”

#12 Wade Freebeck, QB

On the pressure …
“Last week on film, we definitely saw that being a young guy, to expect to see some pressure. It’s something I worked on all week, it’s just disappointing to not play up to my capabilities. I got 10 guys relying on me to get my job done, so I just have to get it done.”

On the defense …
“Our defense played great. They gave us some short fields, they held us in the game. They got some points on the board, they played great. Offensively, I take responsibility for a lot of it, I just felt like we let ourselves down today.”

On losing the time of possession battle …
“Just not executing offensively. We’ve got to stay on the field, got to execute to stay on the field and give our defense a break. We didn’t do that today.”

On if he can contribute once Patton Robinette returns from injury …
“Whatever’s required of me I’m willing to do. Just playing well offensively, whatever it takes, I’m willing to do.”

On the interceptions …
“It was just going the wrong place with the ball, either late or it was just on me. They mix it up a little bit, but at the end of the day I have to recognize that and get rid of the ball.”