Kentucky-ULM Postgame Quotes

Oct. 11, 2014

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery (USATSI)  | Photo Gallery 

Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops

COACH STOOPS: Okay. Once again, it wasn't the prettiest thing early, but our guys hung in there. Faced a little adversity, and came up with some big plays on both sides of the ball when we needed it.

I was somewhat concerned. Obviously, we talked all week about making sure we had the energy and the focus and the discipline to come out and play a complete football game. I think we played a good football game, but by no means a complete game. So that's the good news.

Got another victory. Like I just told the team, we are always going to appreciate wins. We're 5-1, took care of business. I'm proud of them for that. There's an awful lot on both sides of the ball that we need to get cleaned up. That's the good news. So we still haven't played our best. We have an opportunity to go back to work this week and see what we can do to improve.

ULM, Coach Berry, their staff, they do a very good job. We knew they're a well-coached football team, and I have a lot of respect for Coach and his staff. So we, by no means, thought it was going to be easy, and it wasn't.

So proud of our effort. Proud of our team for making the plays when we had to. So, again, we're excited to get back to work and see what we can do this week.

Q. (Question regarding if UK plays better trailing and its backs against the wall.)

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I mean, surely we don't want it that way. We'd love to go out there and start fast all the time, but sometimes we don't. I think it does show some maturity of hanging in there when things don't go well. Keep on battling, believing in each other and believing in what we can do on both sides of the ball and special teams. Fight back when we have to and get ahead.

Got fortunate to get a couple of big plays. The big play by Javess (Blue), I thought was big at that time, and Josh (Forrest) came right back with the pick or vice versa, but some big plays on both sides of the ball.

Q. (Question regarding Bud Dupree’s play.)

COACH STOOPS: It was very big. Once we started realizing kind of what some of their game plan was -- again, I think they're very well coached. We started playing some coverage, and that let D-linemen rush, and they had a hard time blocking them.

But Bud's an impact player. Coach Berry and I were talking about that before the game. He came up with some more big plays today. He's very disruptive.

Q. (Question regarding Stanley “Boom” Williams’ play.)

COACH STOOPS: I'm sure he did. He was focused and fresh. So he went out there and did some big things.

I thought it was good because, obviously, we had our struggles offensively early, and having Boom get that big kickoff return right from the start, we got three points. Didn't get very many yards, but we still got three, and it was good to start that way.

Q. (Question regarding Javess Blue’s play.)

COACH STOOPS: Yeah. I think Neal did a good job of making a conscious effort of trying to get him involved because he's a heck of a football player, as you can see. He's just been a little bit off, whether it be him or the quarterback or protection. So he's had some opportunities set up for him. We just didn't get it to him, we'll continue to work on that.

We have some other weapons, but Javess is a very good football player. We knew he could play like that.

Q. (Question regarding Josh Forrest’s play.)

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it seemed like he bounced back. It really did. Josh, like I said all year, he's done some things exceptionally well, and some things he needs to improve. We all could say that every day.

I love his effort. He's been solid. He holds the defense. He makes a lot of adjustments and calls, and he's been on the money. So we just need to play more physical and clean up some things in the run game, but it was good to see him play well.

Q. If somebody had told you in camp you'd be 5-1 at this point, would you have been surprised?

COACH STOOPS: No. You know I don't -- I mean -- no, I wouldn't have been surprised. We knew we had an opportunity. I really did. I felt like we had a good team. I didn't know for sure. We have to go prove it and see what we could do. I felt like we had some pieces in place.

Like I said, I felt the coaching staff, offense, defense, and special teams, really do a good job, and our team worked extremely hard. That's been the message this week. We worked extremely hard for whatever it's been, 18, 19 months, and in 60 minutes, all that could go down the toilet if you don't take care of business in a game like this.

So we haven't been perfect, but we've been doing the things necessary to put ourselves in position for this.

Q. Mark, the defensive line, you've been able to substitute in and out. How do you feel about that right now?

COACH STOOPS: I feel pretty good. They really have played very well. The minute you give up some rushing yards, you have to put it on the D-line. You know I've talked about all phases of the defense. So up front, they've been pretty solid.

I feel like we had some good depth. Even tonight, we were playing one short a good amount of the night, and they were still stopping the run game, and we were one short in the core.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam.)

COACH STOOPS: I wasn't able to see much. I asked Matt, how did you do? And he said good. All right, big fella. I really did. I asked him late in the game, I said, how'd you do, and he said good. All right, good.

Q. Last week Bud got the pick-six and this week he blocks the field goal … Is there anything that he can’t do?

COACH STOOPS: You've heard me say it all along, how versatile he is. He's an exceptional football player. He really is. He's instinctual, plays with great energy. He's been a great leader. Very versatile. I feel like he could play a lot of positions. I feel like he could play any three linebacker positions. He's very versatile.

Q. (Question regarding what it said about his team that they were able to get that Blue touchdown when ULM had all the momentum.)

COACH STOOPS: That was big for us because I just felt like we were really -- obviously, we weren't playing very well at that point, and they were playing good. Give them credit.

So I thought it was important to -- what came first, Javess' ball? To get that, Javess making that great play, and then we got the pick six after that. So it was nice to see both sides step up when we needed it.

Q. (Question regarding Jojo Kemp’s interception and fumble.)

COACH STOOPS: Shouldn't be a problem now. No, we love Jojo. Like he told me coming out, he said, I'm sorry, Coach. I said for what? You're not perfect. You're going to make mistakes. That's why we had to get him some touches there in the half to get him back out there doing it and operating and everything. He'll need it, and he'll play well.

Q. Looking at the numbers here, you weren't able to get a lot of your running backs a good amount of carries. Was that due to time of possession?

COACH STOOPS: 59 snaps, we had. That's not what we want to do, obviously. So what we have, that's two possessions on pick 6s, right? And then the one short field on the kickoff return. That basically takes about three possessions away from the offense right there.

And we didn't do as good a job of getting off the field real quick early in that game. Later, I felt like we got some stops. The ball controlled it a little bit and moved it on us, and that shortened up the game, 59 snaps. We were struggling. Nobody offensively got the touches they probably wanted to.

Q. (Question regarding Reese Phillips.)

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, absolutely. That's where that fine line of letting him go out there and operate to get some experience. We need to throw it around a little bit in that situation to let him get some experience. On the other hand, I have great respect for Coach Berry and that team and just wanted to get out of there.

But there's always that balance between just getting him some practice. We had a new center out there too. He started the first snap and the ball snapped at his feet. That didn't get him off to a good start. He was a little flustered. We've just got to get him in there and get him going.

Q. (Question regarding UK being tied for first place in the SEC East.)

COACH STOOPS: I love it. I love it. Let's go.

Q. (Question regarding UK dancing on the sidelines and following with 45 unanswered points.)

COACH STOOPS: I didn't. I really didn't. But we needed to create some energy today. It was a little -- obviously, everybody was a little flat, whether it be the fans and the team all week. I was honest with you all week where I felt like we were having good practices and everything, but the energy wasn't as high as it normally is. So that always concerns you a little bit.

But I felt like they kind of took care of business, and I wanted them to create some energy amongst our team, amongst all the guys who are dressed and just sitting back there. We need everybody pulling and everybody having an impact.

Q. What did you say to the team after the first quarter?

COACH STOOPS: I don't recall exactly what I said, but I just didn't feel like we were real locked in. It's hard to define that.

You've heard me talk about some other games where I felt like we were really locked in with the adjustments and coverages and really on point. I just didn't feel like we really were. We were just off. Again, they were making good plays. Give them credit.

Q. Overall, do you feel like the team's confidence has grown?

COACH STOOPS: I do because I think we're seeing us win some games even when we're not playing our best. It's not like we're out there playing above what we can do. We really feel like we can play a lot better, and that's the good news.

Q. (Question regarding UK scoring 48 points, but only 1-for-12 on third downs.)

COACH STOOPS: Is that right? We were 1 for 12? It's not pretty. It's not what we want. You're right. That doesn't happen. I think obviously the two defensive scores were set up with a big kickoff return. Just wasn't our best effort, for any of us really. We just didn't play our best on offense, defense, or special teams. In any phase, we really didn't play our best.

Offense, we really got off to a slow start. So that didn't help us.

Q. Mark, when you walked over to the veteran there, was that kind of spontaneous?

COACH STOOPS: Pardon me?

Q. End of the third quarter, when the veteran was on the field, and you walked over. Was that kind of spontaneous?

COACH STOOPS: I didn't plan it. I just saw him over there. We have a good relationship. So I just wanted to go say hi to him. I told him he was milking it. He was trying to get attention. No, we have a good relationship. I love him and I have a ton of respect for him.

Q. (Question regarding if he thought UK would improve this much with interceptions.)

COACH STOOPS: No, I don't think I would have believed that. I'll give you, it wasn't that. Got to be honest there, I don't know if we'd have been second. I'd be lying if I told you that the other day.

Q. (Question regarding four defensive touchdowns this season.)

COACH STOOPS: That is. And three in the last two games, last game and a quarter or so. So that was good. Obviously, they were big in both games, really at times when we needed them. For sure in the South Carolina game, but even in this game, it came at the right time.

That's nice to see us have the ability to make big plays on both sides of the ball and in special teams.

Q. Coach, you need one more win to become bowl eligible. I'm sure they're aware of it, but have you talked about it?

COACH STOOPS: I'm sure they're aware of it. I really don't want to talk about it because every time we tee it up, we go play to win. That's the message, and we can't worry about that or try to get ahead of ourselves, or we'll get in trouble.

You can see today even, I think we're a little ahead of ourselves. We didn't really take care of our business. We had an opportunity to lose the game the way we started. We've just got to learn that every time we take the field, we get better.

Q. I know you want to take it week by week, but how does it feel to be 5-1 right now?

COACH STOOPS: It feels good. It does. I'm proud of team and how hard they worked. It's not just those six weeks. It's everything that they've done since we've been here to put ourselves in position.

Q. In your mind, are you guys a top 25 team?

COACH STOOPS: I don't know. It doesn't matter. Just got to try to win. If we win -- we all know that. If you get enough wins in this league, you'll get your respect.

Q. (Question regarding what changes for UK heading back into SEC play next week.)

COACH STOOPS: Nothing. Nothing changes. Just got to go out and get better.

Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Player Quotes

#14 Patrick Towles, QB

On the catch by Javess Blue…
“The best catch I have ever seen. When I threw it I said to myself ‘Aw, I missed him.’ He made hands-down the best play I have ever seen.”

On the being only 1-12 on third down conversions …
“We got a lot of short fields. We were put in great field positions thanks to the defensive plays, so that was always good. We have to get better but we’ll take it.  Forty-eight points on the board, how many times does that happen?”

On the fifth win of the season …
“It’s number five. We’ll go down to LSU and give them everything we’ve got next week.”

On being bowl-eligible half way through the season…
“Yeah it feels good, did a lot of hard work over the summer, we’re not satisfied with five wins. We’ll do whatever we can. We will take it one game at a time, and go down to LSU. It’s going to be a tough environment and a good team. I’m ready to go now.”

#2 Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE

On having a great day …
“I just try to do my job. If I’m doing my job, I’m making more plays than I usually do. I’m trying to do too much sometimes.”

On his play in the first half …
“When we came out, I don’t know what it was, but we normally don’t come out like that – not even in practice do we come out like that. A lot of guys were just slow. I think it was couple big plays that they hit us with that kind of slowed everyone down. We just had to make sure that it was water under the bridge for some guys and just move on to the next play. Once we started clicking, we started doing pretty well.”

On being one game away from being bowl eligible …
“Yeah, finally. I’m ready to just move on to the LSU (game). (We need to) come out tomorrow and be relaxed on Monday and get back to work preparing for LSU.”

On his blocked field goal …
“I saw a gap. I just tried to get a hand up and make a play. I do whatever I can to help the team.”

#45 Josh Forrest, LB

On if he expected the 5-1 start to the season …
“After the work we put in, yes. We worked hard this off-season. Really for two years we’ve been working hard. I felt the time was coming.”

On how he got better this week in practice …
“(I) watched more film, I stayed after to watch a lot of film this week and really paid attention to film. I tried to pick up on little key things.”

On the interception …
“I was dropping in my coverage and the ball fell in my hand. Then it was just running off to the races, find a hole and get north and south.”

On if he thought he was going to score when he intercepted  the pass …
“When I first looked up I didn’t think so. Matt (Elam) turned around and started blocking so that took up one or two people so it all worked out.”

On the feeling of winning again today …
“It felt good. Last year I got caught by the quarterback against Florida so I've been telling myself the next one was going to count. I was going to get six on the board.”

#15 Marcus McWilson, S

On scoring defensive touchdowns …
“We practice and prepare throughout the week and no one said the defense couldn’t score touchdowns, so why not us.”

On having two interceptions …
“I really wanted to focus on getting better and I know that if I get better and align correctly and go through my assignments and do what I am supposed to do and do my job, then I would be presented with these opportunities like I was today. I was able to make a play. “

#8 Javess Blue, WR

On his one-handed catch…
“I had to make the catch. I just squeezed the ball tight and prayed that I held it and was in bounds and then still happened to have it. I was like, ‘Where’s my other arm?’ I had to think about it for a minute and then I realized the cornerback had my arm so I just had to reach for it with my right. I am looking forward to seeing it on TV. I’ll be up and ready. It’s probably not the best catch I’ve ever made, but it’s up there.”

On his confidence…
“It’s hit a new level. It’s like I’m back right now because the first couple of games I was injured. I couldn’t do what I was able to do, but now that I’m getting back to normal and things are getting back on track so I’m pretty sure I’ll be making more plays as time goes on.”

On team confidence and chemistry…
“I feel like our chemistry just keeps building up. It’s really amazing what goes on in the locker room and at practice. Our guys we’re really bonding every week so it’s an amazing feeling.  I (have) never had a family and a team like this that can just get down and talk to each other without the coaches being in the room and just have a group meeting and get to understanding (each other). It’s pretty amazing when we all come together and work.”

On getting closer to bowl eligibility…
“It’s an amazing feeling because we couldn’t get to one last year so we made a goal to get a bowl this year and that’s what we promised the fans. We’re making that promise a reality.”

#18 Boom Williams, RB

On being back after suspension from game against South Carolina…
“It feels good. Just wanted to come out, play hard. I owed it to my teammates, the fans, the coaches. I just wanted to come out, play well, and get the win. I did want to prove something. Obviously missing the game last week, not being able to help my teammates hurt. I came out with a chip on my shoulder. The coaches wanted to get me the ball and make plays and that’s what I did.”

On the team confidence…
“We’re pretty confident, but we just want to stay humble and come out every week and get better. We’ve got a big game next week in Baton Rouge at LSU so we want to come out have a good week of practice and get ready for the game.”

On the opening return…
“The return wasn’t really something we worked all week. Coach (Naivar) just set it up and said it was going to be there. I trust coach and everything that he says. Coach Naivar is a good special teams coach. JD Harmon got the lead block for me and set me up to return and put the offense in a great position.”

ULM Head Coach Todd Berry

Opening Statement …
“Congratulations to Coach (Mark) Stoops and obviously the Kentucky team. I am proud of our effort. I thought we had a good gameplan, I thought we were playing well. Second half got away from us a little bit. Some of it was just we do not have a lot of warm bodies right now. A lot of shuffling. We lost five more guys here today. Last two weeks we have 10 guys down now. We are kind of falling apart here a little bit. We had to make some adjustments. Was not pleased with our special teams, obviously. Some of that was having to adjust some guys around and switching some people in coverage areas. (I) did not think that we kicked the ball well either today. Defensively we played decent in the first half and not quite as good in the second half. (I) thought that came down to a little bit of everybody pressing again instead of playing their job. Some of that had to do with the rotations though also. Offense played pretty well in the first half. Again, we did not play well in the second half and obviously the second half we when we came back out, we had to move Ben Risenhoover, Colby Mitchell was not able to go today as you probably noticed. Ben banged up his hand a little bit and it made it tough for him snapping so we brought Trey Martin in and that created some other snapping issues for us. Anyway we have an open date, hopefully we can get a little healthier and grow some of these other players up and move forward.”

On being able to evaluate the new players to replace all of the injuries…
“WellI think anytime that you get actual game snaps on anybody, it is a great evaluation. Practice snaps are just OK evaluations, game snaps are real ones so that does give us an opportunity to do that.”

On the three losses being close at halftime and what happens in the second half…
“I do not know if it is so much adjustments. I think this team desperately wants to win. I do agree with you in a relation to when something bad happens in the second half, everybody starts pressing. And you do not press, you play. And I get it, I do, I have been there before as a player. And have seen it multiple times as a coach. Everybody wants so badly to win, that pretty soon in the first half you are doing your job and then in the second half you are trying to win. And we need to do our job all the time and that allows us to win.”

ULM Player Quotes

#12 Brayle Brown, QB

On  some things he told Pete (Thomas) early on in the first quarter …
“We played pretty good in the first quarter.  We had everything going, and we were communicating back and forth.  But give credit to Kentucky.  They adjusted to everything we were doing, and they played a good game.”

On how much optimism does it gives him on how he played in the first quarter …
“We came out good, but we have to keep it going.  We do not settle for moral victories like the program did in the past, so this game hurts a little bit.  We had the potential to move the ball, like we did in the first quarter, but we have to go for four quarters, especially against a team like Kentucky.”

On if today is a moral win …
“We are a mature team with a lot of juniors and seniors.  It is obviously fun coming into an SEC atmosphere with a good crowd, but we are expecting to win every game, so if we come short of that, we feel like we failed.”

#48 Hunter Kissinger, LB

On the interception to set up the touchdown …
“Yes, going into this game I thought we were going to win, just like every other game.  I thought we would come out and play sound defense and take advantages of mistakes Kentucky would make.  Early on we made a great stop to force them into a field goal after a long kick return, which gave us some momentum.  After that, the interception was exactly what we needed to help us score.  At that time, we thought those plays were the turning point and that we had a clear shot at winning, but it did not turn out that way.  We made too many mistakes, and you pay for it when you play good football teams.

On if the team started pressing too much in the second half …
“Yes, I think it is something that comes naturally in big games like this, and we need to really focus on doing our individual jobs, instead of everyone trying to make the big play.  If we try to press too much, we will pay, because our offense and defense is designed for everyone to do their individual job on each play.  If you do your job, plays will come to you.”

On if this helps them for conference play …
“They are a good team, but if you give up 45 points in a game, there is not much to be optimistic about.  The best thing to be optimistic about is that we have a bye week.  This will give us time to get healthy and try to make a run in conference.  I think that is the most important thing, and we have to learn from our mistakes in this game. We have to play a full game.”