Stoops, Brown talk a bit of everything

MARK STOOPS
“It was good to get out here, get out here and have a good practice. We did good fundamental work. We did corrections. We did a lot of good against good and then also got started on Vandy. So overall good day. Attitude’s good. I thought the players really took it to heart, really looked at the film, were very critical of themselves and looked at all areas where we all can improve. So it’s been a good couple of days.”

On what he learned about Patrick Towles: “I thought he really did some outstanding things. I talked about it briefly after the game, but just some of the throws were really big-time throws. And I think he showed a lot of poise. I mean, y’all were there in that hostile environment. The place was extremely loud. Really I thought he handled himself very well. Had some great throws and gave us a chance to win the game.”

On if you have to guard against satisfaction with coming close when you’re building a program where players haven’t won: “I think that may be fair to say. But I don’t see that at all. I really don’t. And I think each step, each time you get closer and closer, they believe more and more. And I think most of them listen to you on Monday, and I talked about that going into the game — let’s not come in here and say, ‘Boy that was close. Good effort.’ Because we’re not satisfied with that. I think each time you get closer and closer, you put yourself in positions like that and we keep on working and fundamentally getting better, then the next time we get that opportunity, we’ll win.”

On if a freshman who hasn’t played can work his way into the mix during a bye week: “Yeah. And I’m not sitting here telling you that because somebody’s gonna jump out at us and play next week. But yeah, we talk about it and look at them and we certainly work with those guys a lot right now. It’s good to get around them again and get some reps with them.”

On injuries: “I think we’ve got a chance to go into the Vandy game close to 100 percent.”

On if there have been any developments on Zach West: “No. Not anything with him.”

On if it’s good to have a bye week this week: “Like I said, if it was up to me, I think I’d love to go play. Guys are in good spirits. We have a lot left in our tank. We got a lot more we can do, a lot better things, and we’re excited to go to work. I wish we were playing, but we’ll deal with it the way it is.”

On who he’s including when he says 100 percent healthy: “Well, I’m unsure about Zach. I’m unsure about (Jeff) Badet. Outside of that, I’m talking about basically the new guys, some of the new things.”

On what it does for them to see that the freshmen are what they thought they’d be: “Well, it does make you feel a lot better, because we bragged on them and thought they were very good players coming in, and they showed that in high school. But until they get here, you never really know. And certainly the first two games at home in a comfortable environment, they played well. Not perfect, but did some good things. And then to go see us take it up a notch at Florida, that’s what you need. And those are the type of playmakers and that’s the type of competitors you need in your program. So, I’ve been very encouraged. Again, we’re far from perfect. We got a lot of work to do with those guys. But it is nice to see some playmaking ability.”

On what he’s seen from Demarco Robinson: “You know what, he’s been a solid leader for us. He’s really emerged as a good leader. If you’d asked him that a semester ago, he was down on himself and maybe not doing things perfectly, but he’s really turned a corner and even if he’s not getting the ball, he’s working extremely hard; he’s practicing hard, has a great attitude. I’ve been very pleased with him.”

On play of Landon Foster: “It was big last week in particular with their return guys. I just thought he was exceptional. He’s been extremely clean. We never talk about it because the operation’s been perfect and he’s been hitting great punts and had great hang time. The whole punt team did a great job. We’ve got to get the kickoff team cleaned up a little bit, but I thought the punt team was really good.”

On Za’Darius Smith being all over the place at Florida: “He really, the plays finally came his way and he just, I think he was critical of himself in the first couple of games and again, he did some good things the first couple games, but he just wants to do more, wants to be around the ball. He had that opportunity on Saturday and played a very, very good game.”

On Jason Hatcher’s play near end of game: “I thought it was good to see him get in there more and more. We had to play with our big, our bigger package. Going into that game, that was the first time that we played that way. Had a feeling they would go in and try to push us around a little bit. And so, he played well. He did some good things. Really, he’s another guy that you see him really growing in his leadership, the way he practices, the way he cares. He’s fun to coach.”

On how much closer he is to calling a game defensively just straight up: “Pretty close because you have to. We’re getting to that point where you have to play what you play. We moved and did a few more things than we may normally do with some of our pressures and the way we’re trying to attack people, try to create some second-and-longs and not let them push us and get those aggravating, three, four, five, six yards on runs that were getting closer to. We’ve just got to be a little cleaner and we’ve got to be a little more physical and a lot of that’s coming from the second level and the third level, the linebackers and the secondary. I think up front, we’re holding our own.”

On if Florida is your measuring stick, where are you? “Obviously, you’ve heard me say it, I don’t need to say it again, but I mean, obviously, we had a chance to win at Florida, so that, I’m proud of that. I’m proud that we had a fighting chance, absolutely. I said that going into the week. I made no bones about it. I wanted to see where we were at. I wanted to see if we could go play with Florida at Florida. I felt like we could. Felt very confident about it and I was glad to see that we did that. Disappointed in the outcome.”

On Boom Williams’ play in OT, how much trouble is he in if he doesn’t make it: “He’s in a decent bit of trouble if he doesn’t make it. Yeah, he is, especially if he takes a big loss, but his instincts took over and that’s good to see. As coaches, we all understand that. We have to play with great fundamentals. You have to do what you’re supposed to do. Sometimes ability takes over and I’m all for that.”

NEAL BROWN
“We had a productive day. During this bye week, worked a little bit of — introduced Vanderbilt to them a little bit. Mostly focused on detail work, some fundamental things. Got some of our younger guys a lot of work that are potential redshirts. Drew (Barker) got a bunch of work today. Thaddeus Snodgrass got a bunch of work. T.V. (Williams), who didn’t play as much in the last game, got him a lot of work. Javess Blue practiced a lot today. Trying to get him back in the routine. Played a little bit against Florida. I think this two weeks, this week off, this week of practicing during the bye week and then next week leading into Vanderbilt I think you’ll see a lot more production from him. That’s kind of general.”

On if Patrick Towles is ahead of where he expected him to be: “You know, you never know really. That’s a good question. I was pleased with how he played, without question. I thought he handled things really well. I always thought he would. I really thought with his pedigree and where he’s from and where he had to play high school ball and all those things, I really expected him to answer the bell. And he has. He’s played really at a high level. I think — I know that he’s capable of playing a lot better than he even played on Saturday night. So, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I am pleased with where he’s at.”

On what Boom Williams’ overtime play says about his ability and how much trouble he would be in if he had been tackled for a loss: “Well…I think you’ve got to have a little bit of that in you. He doesn’t have a whole lot of fear. So I think all guys that have the ability to make big-time plays, they’re not necessarily worried about the consequences. He understands he has really top-end speed. He ran away from some really fast guys. He turned the field on some really fast guys. So that was a huge play. Potentially could have set us up for the win there. That gives you a little look at him. He thinks he can make a big play every time. Now we’ve just got to pick and choose — he’s got to pick and choose when to do that.”

On if he surprised at all by production of the freshmen so far: “Well, no because we saw some bits and pieces of it during fall camp. They’ve got a lot of reps. I think what happens a lot of times (is) freshmen, they don’t get the opportunity because you’ve got some mature kids or some veteran kids. As coaches you’re always — you always go with guys that know what to do. You don’t look at the freshmen as much as you should just because they’re learning, and there’s more comfort in those veteran guys. But we didn’t have a whole lot of veteran guys at those positions where they came in at, especially at receiver. So they got a lot of opportunity, and they showed flashes. They’re were a little wide-eyed early. They were definitely a little wide-eyed early, but I thought once we started rolling, once the first guy made a play, then they all started coming on.”

On the series where he had three redshirt freshmen on the offensive line: “Actually, we had them in on a scoring drive. I was pleased. I thought Nick Haynes came in and did well. We’d been working him during preseason camp more at guard than at tackle. He went in and played left tackle against Florida and did a admirable job. Now, he didn’t have to go against No. 6 (Dante Fowler Jr.). Six played on the other side, which was a little different beast. I thought he played well. I thought all our redshirt freshmen — Kyle Meadows made another step. He struggled a little bit against Ohio, but he made a positive step on Saturday night also.”

On if there is something specific causing Jordan Swindle’s false starts: “He’s got to get it fixed. We’re going to get it fixed. It’s an undisciplined issue. I don’t think we scored a touchdown — I know we didn’t score a touchdown on a single one of those false start penalties. We had to either punt or kick a field goal. So, if you look at it, there’s a lot of statistics behind procedure penalties and negative yardage runs. Those kill drives, and they killed drives those times.”

On if he expected Garrett Johnson to make this kind of impact after his injury in camp: “Well, I really felt like in the summer…I really felt like in the summer — really, watching, I’ll go back even further. I watched him — the more I watched his high school video, the more I liked him. He ran really disciplined routes. He can stick his foot. He never got hit, which means — he’s playing against really good competition, which means he can make people miss. So I really thought he was going to be — I really thought he would probably be the guy that made the biggest impact as a freshman because we had lower numbers at those slot spots. So the injury in fall camp did set him back. I’m not surprised that he’s production. Now, am I surprised that he was the SEC Freshman of the Week, all that kind of stuff? Maybe a little, but I thought he would be a major contributor.”

On if it would have surprised him three or four months ago the hear that Demarco Robinson had developed into a leader: “Maybe longer ago. Maybe nine, 10 months ago it would have surprised me. I think we’ve got two really good examples of guys that really grew up. One of them, football wise, in Patrick Towles that took instruction and really looked into the mirror and made himself a better football player. Then you’ve got on the other end of it, you’ve got Demarco Robinson, who wasn’t living right off the field, who looked himself in the mirror and made a decision on what was important in his life and changed his life. So I think the guys on our side of the ball have two great examples to look at, both football and off-the-field wise.”

On what he’s focused on working with Towles on now: “He’s got to make better decisions on some of our combo plays. I still think he can still get the ball out faster on screens. He’s got to improve in quick game. We needed to be better at our quick passing game than we are right now. Those are some things. Those are some key things this week.”

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Some numbers to ponder

After an absurd game that only added to these numbers, here’s a look at some big play figures after three games this season.

  • UK is fourth in nation in plays of 20 or more yards (24)
  • UK is sixth in plays of 30 or more yards (12)
  • UK is third in plays of 40 or more yards (eight)
  • UK is fourth in plays of 50 yards or more (five)
  • UK is fifth in plays of 60 yards or more (three)  and 70 or more yards (two). In three games, Kentucky offense has as many plays of 60 or more yards (three) as it did in 12 games last season.

Some other numbers:

  • Kentucky’s offense is ranked No. 48 nationally (36.3 points a game). It is No. 34 in total offense averaging 503.7 yards a game. The Cats’ passing offense is ranked No. 22 in country with 320.3 yards a game and the rushing attack is No. 55 nationally, averaging 182.3 yards a game.
  • Kentucky is averaging 127.1 more yards a game passing (320.3 yards) than it did last season (193.2).
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Q&A with Neal Brown after Florida loss

NEAL BROWN

“That was great effort by our guys. I give a lot of credit to Will (Muschamp) and those guys, thought they responded. I have a lot of respect for them, very good on defense. Threw for 370 yards on those guys. And if you look it’s been a long time since they’ve given up that much. Made a lot of plays, the story of it is that we probably missed several opportunities there at the end to win it. I really felt like we were going to win the game the whole time. I’ve been in several of these overtime deals and came out on top more than we’ve lost. Didn’t get it done at the end.”

On the progress: “We played four red-shirt freshmen on the O-line. We played two red-shirt freshmen, one of them a walk-on, on every single snap at guards. Every single snap. We played Haynes and Meadows a lot at tackles. Then played three true freshmen wide outs a lot: Blake Bone, Dorian Baker and Garrett Johnson and a true sophomore Ryan Timmons and a true freshman Stanley Williams — gonna call him ‘Boom’ after that play — but we’re making progress. It’s not done. There’s no moral victories in this field. I thought our kids laid it on the line, thought we prepared really well, put ourselves in a position to win the game and we didn’t get it done.”

On young players in such a big atmosphere: “That’s why we recruited them. They’re not scared of this moment. It got loud in there tonight. It got loud. This was a big-time environment. They never blinked and I’m not surprised one bit. I’m zero surprised. That’s why we recruited them. That’s why a lot of people in the country recruited them. Big-time play makers and they made a bunch of big plays.”

On Patrick Towles’ play: “I thought Patrick played — I was extremely proud of him — that’s as on throwing the ball as I’ve seen him. He had 370 yards and probably two drops for another 70. He could’ve been sitting here with 450 yards passing. In here, in this atmosphere. I thought he did a great job keeping plays alive, not taking sacks. I thought he did a really good job running the football when we asked him to do that. I was extremely proud of how he played and it was a big step in his maturation process.”

On what loosened up in the second half: “They got a little tired. We were able to get some plays going. We really tried to get the running game going early. Let me tell you, those guys are pretty good. Those guys are pretty good. Fowler and I think No. 3 the linebacker is a really good player. No. 1 is as good a corner as there is. I think they’re really talented, the secondary. They’re probably not real fired up listening to Will about how they played, but they’re really talented. They were fresh and we had trouble. We struggled to try to run the ball. We decided we were gonna have a lot more success throwing the football and that’s what we did from middle of the second quarter on.”

On what he says after one like this: “Don’t, don’t, don’t even bring (the streak) up. We had a chance to break it. It’s one of them deals. I think you’re honest with them. You can’t accept moral victories. It’s not a game where we’re walking out of here boasting about how we played. Our kids were disappointed. There are some down heads in there. The one thing I did tell them; I thought Mark said this. We went and watched this movie the other night that they didn’t play perfect, but they played with perfect effort. I thought our guys played hard, so I’m proud of them for that. Tomorrow or Monday when we watch this, we show them that. That it’s a game of inches; it’s a game of details. There were some things we didn’t do fundamentally as well as we needed to. That’s probably why we didn’t make some of the plays we needed to.”

On the injured offensive linemen: “I don’t know. We’ll know more tomorrow. It’s really hard until you get 24 hours out. I thought Darrian came back and really battled. He’s a stud. He’s a really good player. He competed hard. I was really proud of how those guys competed. I don’t know how many times we threw it. What’d we throw it? 45 times? That’s a lot against these guys. There’s a lot of NFL guys playing up front there, so you’re talking about playing four red-shirt freshmen in their first away game and it was there. On big-time television, lot of screaming fans, so we’ll build on this. We’ll build on this and get better.”

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Q&A with Mark Stoops after Florida loss

MARK STOOPS
“Very difficult loss, as you could imagine. Very proud of our players’ effort. If I could steal a quote from the coach at De La Salle (High School) – we went and watched that movie last night (“When the Game Stands Tall”), great movie – like I said to our team: ‘We weren’t perfect, but it was a perfect effort tonight.’ So I really appreciate our players, their commitment to the preparation. They left it all on the field. There’s things we could all do better, that we will do better. Again, we’re not in the business of any kind of moral victory or anything like that, but I felt like our players really grew up tonight and really came here to win the game and really believed we were going to win the game – the whole way through.

“You have to give credit to Florida. They made the plays when the game was on the line to win the game. But, again, I was just very proud of our team’s effort, the way they came into a hostile environment, really played with a lot of poise, and did a lot of good things. We just didn’t make enough plays to win. So we’ll get back to work. I feel very good about this team and the direction that we’re going, and we’ll get back to work.”

On if it’s possible his proudest moment so far as UK’s coach came in this defeat: “Um … I guess that’s fair to say, yes. I am very proud of them, yes. Very much, because it’s not easy. That’s a good football team. I was just very proud of the way we kept responding and facing adversity and coming back and making plays and having a great opportunity to win the game.”

On if he thought Florida should’ve had a delay of game penalty on the fourth-down play in the first OT: “I did, but it doesn’t matter.”

On all the new players making big plays: “Very proud of the young guys and some guys that grew up tonight, young and old. It was very good to see Garrett (Johnson) make some very difficult catches on some very good defenders. He had the one wide open but a lot of the other ones were contested and he did a nice job. And Boom’s play in the first overtime, that was a terrific individual effort by him to get in the end zone.”

On how QB Patrick Towles played and his three INTs: “I can’t put all the interceptions on him. The one late, down the sideline on third down, that was as good as punt. Threw it up and gave our guy an opportunity to make a play. We had to resort to that a little bit, where we wanted our big wideouts to try to go up and make a play. And, again, they’re very good defenders. We hit a few and they made some good plays, so give them credit.”

On kicker missing the FG in the third OT but making some clutch ones earlier: “Oh, yeah, absolutely. The one he made to put it in overtime, we wouldn’t even be in those overtimes if he didn’t make it. I take my hat off to him. He was clutch. He made some very difficult kicks. I’m proud of him. He’ll be fine.”

On if the off week is a good thing after this loss: “It doesn’t matter. It is what it is. Our players, they’ll respond well. It was an emotional, hard-fought loss, and we’ll go back to work. That’s how we felt coming into this game, that Florida was next. We’re gonna give it our best preparation, we’re gonna give it our best effort and we came here to get on that plane to come get a victory. Didn’t happen. Again, I give a lot of credit to Florida and what they do, but our players, they’ll get back to work and prepare the right way.

On if he learned anything about his team tonight that he didn’t know before: “Yeah, I think you do. I think you learn a little bit of good and bad. There’s a lot of things that we still need to do better. And, you know, we left a lot of plays out there. We had some real good opportunities to win that game.”

On having four redshirt freshmen on the offensive line at one point: “Yes. We were beat. We were beat up, yeah. We were down two tackles. So I don’t even know by the end of it, to be honest with you, who went back in or whatnot. We were busy making adjustments defensively and all that. Next man up.  Didn’t matter. If they could play they were in. If not, they were on to the next guy. But for a long time, we were playing with some guys that (have) very limited experience and again, they fought their tails off.”

On how much of the late scoring was defenses getting tired: “That’s part of it. Just tired. Offenses figuring out what you’re doing. They were grinding on us. They got physical, and we need to play better. We were trying a lot of things, and we were all scratching and clawing for the best opportunity to stop each other. The first half it was defense and then all of the sudden there, third and fourth quarter, offenses start moving the ball.”

On Garrett Johnson: “Well, we felt very good about Garrett and then he got injured in practice before camp. It set him back a week or two, but we thought of all the young wideouts, he was the guy early that we knew was very smooth, very precise, knew the offense, very mature, and we thought we had high expectations for him. He got dinged up a little bit, and that’s hard for a freshman. Set him back a little bit. But we were very high on him all along. He’s gonna be a very good football player.”

On what he told the team when he went in the locker room:

I told them the same thing that I said in here, that we weren’t perfect, but I did think it was a perfect effort. We left it on the field tonight. We’re never, ever gonna be happy with moral victories. But if we lay it on the line like that and prepare like that and go to play like that, then we’ll grow up and we’ll have more opportunities to win. And when we get in those opportunities, you got to learn from this and you got to make plays. There was plays on both sides of the ball that we didn’t make that had a chance to win. We had a chance to win in regulation. We had a chance to win on the fourth down. There’s things that — it is what it is. You got to live with them, you got to learn from them. We all got to do better and move on.

On last year feeling like Florida controlled the game and what that says about their progress in the past year: “Yeah. I agree with you. A year ago, the score was close, but they were in control. This year, I felt like we had a lot of opportunities to win. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think for a moment we were gonna lose that game.”

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Some links to get you ready for UK vs. Florida

While you wait not so patiently for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff of Kentucky at Florida, here’s a week’s worth of links to get you ready for the game.

As always, follow @jenheraldleader and @johnclayiv on Twitter for in-game updates. John has a live blog here, too.

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Florida coordinator sees Stoops’ stamp on UK

It’s impossible for D.J. Durkin to miss.

The Florida defensive coordinator sees it all over the Kentucky game footage: “You can tell he’s got his thumb print on the program.”

It’s the Stoops stamp. Durkin has seen it before and knows it on sight. He’s known Mark Stoops for a long time; they’ve coached against each other. They’re from the same hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.

So while Durkin has spent most of his free time studying the Cats’ offense, he can’t help but notice the defense.

He sees a Stoops team.

“They’re playing really hard,” he said of Kentucky. “They’re playing with belief and confidence. They’re very disciplined in what they’re doing. … I totally see that he has instilled that in the program and has done a good job of that. We have a big challenge ahead of us.”

It’s something Florida’s coaches have pointed out to their players in this week of game prep. This isn’t the same Kentucky from a season ago.

“These guys are playing very disciplined; they’re playing with great technique,” Durkin said. “They’re playing with great confidence. You can tell the other team has belief in what they’re doing. Our guys know that. They recognize that.”

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Final Stoops thoughts before Florida

MARK STOOPS
 “Good wrap-up today. Had our walk-through and meetings and all that. Things are good. Players are focused and we’re excited to get on that plane tomorrow. We got one more run-through tomorrow. We’ll have about a 45-minute to an hour practice tomorrow and then we’ll get on that bus and load up and head to Gainesville. So putting the finishing touches on a good week.”

On how often he faced Florida OC Kurt Roper’s offense when he was at Duke and Stoops was DC at FSU: “You know, I’m not even sure. Several.”

On how different that offense is with the kind of athletes he has running it at UF vs. Duke: “Oh, it’s different. Yeah, it’s definitely different. But I know this: In our preparation for Duke at Florida State – I think I mentioned this earlier in the week – always so precise. And you know that’s a quality of a well-coached team. They were just very good at what they did and we always had our hands full at Florida State with them. It was always a good contest and we had a lot of respect for them. It’s much different at Florida with the players, which you would expect. They’ve got some guys that can really run outside and their backs are all good and their line’s healthy, so it’ll be a real challenge.”

On if there’s any news on RB Braylon Heard or other guys: “They were out there a little bit, so we’ll see. Yeah, they’re going to make the trip. We’ll get something out of them.”

On if that’s Heard and WR Javess Blue: “Yeah. Mmhmm.”

Aside from the Jojo Kemp comments, has he heard about the young skill players calling themselves the “juice boys”: “I haven’t heard any of that. But the Jojo (Kemp) issues, we’ve moved on. It’s addressed and we’ve moved on. We’ll go down there united.”

On Zach West status and cutting down on sacks: “We’ve got to play well. We’ve got to do what we do and that’s get rid of the football quick when we can, make good decisions. We’ve got to protect and have all 11 guys on the same page, so. We’ve worked hard and we’ll go down there and they’ll play well. They’ll improve. Zach’s questionable — Zach’s not going to play. He hasn’t practiced all week.”

On he dynamic with two defensive-minded head coaches and two up-tempo offenses: “You know, I think we see the value in it from having to defend them and how difficult it is to defend offenses like this. I can’t speak for Will, but I think we do have a similar mentality and we want to play physical, we want to play great defense. But you also know we want to win games and score points by any means necessary. That’s obviously my decision and what we did. Whatever Will feels best for Florida to give them a chance to win, he’ll do. So, that’s all.”

On if it could be a high scoring game or a 3-3 game: “I don’t want to put any — I don’t want to guess what it’s going to be like.”

On if he does anything during practice to try and build Austin MacGinnis’ confidence: “Well, yeah. He looks at what he’s doing just technically and studies that. He’s worked on it to improve. I obviously had a lot of faith in him when I went out there to send him out there to kick a 53-yarder. I was getting on Tony because I looked at that film and it was about two inches from 54, would have been a school record. He wouldn’t budge, though. So it was (53).”

On how important that was for MacGinnis’ confidence: “Yeah, I think it was. I think it was important. He heard me ask Craig (Naivar) right in front of him, ‘Can he make this,’ and he said yeah, so let’s go do it. I hope that helps him, his confidence. I think it will.”

On whether defensive coordinators have a fraternity and talk in the offseason and if he did that with Will Muschamp: “Defensive coordinators do. I had never gone and spent much time with Will, but we do do that. Like the offenses do, and all that stuff. But I’ve just known Will for a while. I have a lot of respect for him, like I said. He’s a very good coach. And D.J. Durkin, the defensive coordinator there, we go back to Youngstown as well.”

 

 

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A homecoming game for Brumbaugh

It will be a bit of a homecoming for Kentucky’s defensive line coach on Saturday.

Jimmy Brumbaugh grew up just outside of Gainesville, about 20 minutes from the University of Florida. His wife, Kelly, is from Daytona Beach as well.

“Always good to go home and see my family come to the game and stuff,” Brumbaugh said with a smile.

So how did a kid who grew up in Florida’s swampy backyard end up as an All-Southeastern Conference defensive tackle at Auburn?

“Just had a great opportunity to go to Auburn,” he said. “It was really home for me.”

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D.J. Eliot previews Florida

D.J. ELIOT
“We had a good practice. Guys seemed to be energetic, flying around, excited. It’s just a typical Wednesday; so things went well.”

On linebackers: “I don’t know how it’s gonna spread out. I think that Josh Forrest is playing well and in position. We’ve had probably more rotation this year at ‘backer than we had last year. Avery played every single snap every single game. So he was in position a lot to make a lot of plays, and we’ve been able to rotate the guys more. But we’re not concerned about who makes the plays, just that they’re made. And I would like to see a defense that all those plays are spread out amongst a lot of players.”

On how different Florida’s offense is this year: “Completely. They’re a spread offense now. Last year they were mainly a pro-style offense with some spread looks, and now they are a spread offense with a few pro looks. So it’s quite a bit different.”

On if it would have been beneficial to have Florida play its opener so they could have two games of film of the new offense: “That would have been good, to have two games to look at them, but we didn’t get it so we just have to study what they’ve done and try to adjust to that.”

On if he watches a lot of Duke film to see more of Kurt Roper’s offense: “Yes. Yes. I will study Duke. Their offense is the same as he ran at Duke. So, we’ve studied them pretty thoroughly.”

On if practicing against UK’s up-tempo offense gives them an advantage against Florida: “I believe so, not having to replicate it in one week by a scout team. Instead we’ve been able to see it  by our own offense since we’ve been on campus.”

On what he’s been most impressed about: “I think we’re playing faster. I think guys are understanding what they’re supposed to do, therefore swarming the ball better and guys are reacting faster.”

On his biggest concern about Florida: “Their great speed. Their wideouts are big and fast. They have a deep-ball threat that you have to make sure that you have covered.”

On if he checks in with UK’s players from Florida this week, tries to keep them even-keeled: “We handle each week about the same. Sometimes you’ve got to do that. I think that our kids, they understand that it’s one game and it’s the next opponent and that’s the approach we take.”

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Mark Stoops on SEC teleconference

MARK STOOPS
Opening statement: “Looking back at the Ohio game, we did some good things. I thought it was good to get off to a fast start again, jumped out to the 14-0 lead; it was good for us. Defensively, I thought we did some good things, forced them to punt on the first four possessions. Offensively, scoring; that was good. The negative things: We left a lot of points out there. We know we can’t leave points on the board, especially as we enter league play, going down to play a very good Florida team so we’ll have our hands full this week. Looking to get better. Like I said, very glad to get off to a 2-0 start but we’ve got to improve a great deal to go play this week. Looking forward to the challenge, looking at Florida, a very, very good football team, sound in all phases. They’re a traditional, dominant defense and offensively, greatly improved from a year ago. Obviously getting some guys healthy and having Driskell back, their quarterback, makes a great difference. They have three outstanding running backs and very physical up front and the receiving corps has great speed just like you’d expect, so, again it will be a great challenge. I have an awful lot of respect for Will (Muschamp) and the Florida program and what they do. Been there before. It’s a great venue. It’ll be a great challenge. We are excited for that opportunity.”

On Patrick Towles and when he saw difference in the quarterback: “Yeah, I noticed it right away obviously in spring practice because last year he was red shirting and he was working on things and he’d be down there on scout team and always had a great attitude and was always working the whole — just like you’d expect — I really didn’t notice him mechanically then last season as he was red-shirting. As we moved into spring, I noticed a completely different guy and with him, he’s a big, strong guy, as you know, and he had a longer release with that and with our offense that wasn’t a good fit because we like to get rid of the ball quickly and it actually slowed him down on his decision making as well. So he really worked hard on his footwork and shortening up that release, so I noticed it right away and to be honest with you, he was really a quite different quarterback when he went out there to compete for the job last spring. Just been overall pleased with him and his work ethic and his mindset and how he went about it. I think it sends a great message to our team and in particular our young players. When things don’t always go your way, Pat took the approach to look at himself in the mirror, go out and fix whatever he was doing and get better at it. And so I’ve been very pleased with him and his leadership and just how he went about his business. He goes out and you know, you know, the story’s being written right now, so we’ll see how it goes. But I’ve been very pleased with him. He looks very comfortable in the pocket and he’s always had great talent. It’s nice to see him fine-tuning some of his mechanics. So, very pleased.”

On his personal 1-0 streak at the Swamp: (Laughs) “No, I don’t think anybody will — that’s not too much of a streak. That’s awfully difficult. Just competing against Florida over the years, way back at Miami, when I was at Miami, we had some great games. I remember I think we were in the Orange Bowl one year down there and Florida was up big, big on us. That was one of the great Miami teams, might have been the national championship team, either that or the next year. But Florida jumped out on us and we were able to come back and win when I was at Miami. Of course, the rivalry with Florida State and Florida, just have a lot of respect for the program. I know those players, and I know the great pride they have. I know how well-coached they are, and the great administration and the whole deal. That’s people that have been doing things right for a long time, so it will be a great challenge. But, again, we’re really looking forward to it.”

On if he’s actually 2-0 at the Swamp: “In the Swamp, yeah I think it is. I believe so. I’m not sure. I don’t think I had every lost to — well I can think of one time. I was at Florida State, we lost to Florida once, but all those great rivalries and my time, you’d have to look it up. You can do the research. I don’t have time for all that, but I want to say when I was at Miami I think I was undefeated against Florida State and Florida, then while I was at Florida State I believe I lost to Florida once, the only time. Then here once. It was a good record, but it’s going to be pretty tough to hold those percentages up.”

On roster turnover at Kentucky and his recruiting classes: “We feel very good about the direction of our team and where we’re headed. There has been a lot of turnover. I think some of that, like you said, is commonplace when there’s staff turnover. Some of it just quite frankly needed to happen. We expected to compete in this great conference, and we needed to get SEC caliber players in here. Sometimes that’s a hard truth, but it’s the truth. Our staff has worked extremely hard to recruit great players. We believe we have some very talented young players that need to grow up in a hurry. It’s awfully difficult to expect those guys to come in and win some of these tough games, but hey, we’re not alone. There’s a lot of people that have a lot of issues, and Florida has to play some young players too, and it’s across this league. So it is what it is. We feel good about the direction of the program. We know we’re a work in progress, but we know we’re headed in the right direction.”

On Jojo Kemp’s comments about “walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces”: “I was furious. The thing is — I was outraged; I talked to him about it — but the thing is, he was trying to make light of some friends that he has on this program. But like I told him yesterday, ‘You think they’re gonna hear all that? They’re gonna hear the last five seconds of what you said.’ And I know the great pride of the players in that locker room at Florida. I’ve been all through Florida. I’ve been at Miami, been at South Florida and been at Florida State. I know personally quite a few of those players and the pride that they have, and one thing: it’s not very smart to try to challenge their pride before you play them. Believe me, I know them. And so I don’t think that was very smart. It’s not something that I teach. It’s not how we talk. And really, if you listen to his whole conversation, he was quite humble and really handled himself the right way until the end. But again, that’s just not very smart on our part, and we’ll get that fixed.”

On if he’s surprised at the number of good players they’re redshirting and if he expected to play more of those guys: “Yeah, I did. I did expect to play a few more. It was nice that some of our upperclassmen really worked hard and improved, and we needed them to. And I feel good about our roster right now. We’re not perfect, but we have a bunch of guys that have bought in and worked extremely hard and our players that were here have improved. It’s nice to be able to redshirt the majority of our freshman class. We don’t really have that luxury with some of the skill positions on offense, but the rest of the guys are very good players, and I’m really happy about being able to redshirt the majority of the o-line and d-line, because those guys can really get some extra lifting in as they redshirt.”

On his off-the-field relationship with Neal Brown and if they have a lot in common: “Yeah. We have a very good relationship. I really enjoy working with Neal. Like I talked about the other day, I really didn’t know him before this job, but as we got talking and got to spending time with each other before we decided to work with each other, I thought it would be a good fit. One thing I think that’s always important as you’re meeting your offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator is the confidence that he has. I think Neal’s a very confident guy. He has a system. He knows what he wants to do. And so it’s been very good. I’m very happy with it. And off the field, we’ve become good friends, and it’s always good to have that good relationship with the guys you’re working with.”

On if they share parenting tips: “No, no. We leave that up to our wives.”

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