Stoops transcript after practice No. 10

Here is what Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops had to say following the Cats’ 10th practice and before UK’s second scrimmage on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium:

OPENING STATEMENT: “We had a good practice, got some good work in. Good situations in, worked some third down, worked some red zone, a decent day. We’ll tee it up tomorrow and see where we’re at with the second scrimmage.”

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF TOMORROW’S SCRIMMAGE? “I want to see where we’re at, see how much we’ve improved in this week. So I expect some improvement; I expect some guys to step up and make some plays and just see where we’re at on both sides of the ball.”

RECEIVERS BETTER THAN THEY WERE A WEEK AGO? “You know, they’re working hard. They are. The coaches are coaching them up, working them hard. The receivers are working, doing a good job. They’ve made some improvement, I guess. They’ve caught the ball decent at times. We’re not as consistent as we need to be.”

HOW MUCH WILL FINAL WEEK OF PRACTICE BE DICTATED BY SCRIMMAGE? “There are certain situations we will continue to work and some of that will be based on the scrimmage, see how physical we are, just see the efficiency on both sides of the ball.”

HOW MUCH SPECIAL TEAMS WORK ARE YOU GETTING IN? “Quite a bit. We worked 30 minutes today.”

BASIC PHILOSOPHIES ON SPECIAL TEAMS? DO YOU WANT STARTERS IN THERE? “Oh, yeah. We’ll have the best players available. You have to be a little bit conscious of not having them on every one of them, but certainly our starters will be on there. We need them. We don’t have enough depth at this point.”

COACH PEVETO SAID STOOPS’ ATTITUDE ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS IS WHY HE SIGNED ON AT UK. IS SPECIAL TEAMS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? “I just think to win championships, to win at the highest level, you have to be good in all three phases. There’s no getting around that. You need it to be good in this league and all leagues. So we’ve put a lot of importance on it, stress it quite a bit, work it quite a bit. Each and every day this spring, we’ve dedicated quite a bit of time toward special teams.”

DECIDED ON BLUE-WHITE SCRIMMAGE FORMAT? “We’re working it out. We’re thinking about going and splitting up the teams and truly having a blue team and a white team. It will make it a little bit more competitive. What you worry about is the depth and being a little bit sloppy. You know, you want to put on a good performance. You want to look good for our fans and all of the excitement out there. So you want to make sure you go out there and execute.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LINEBACKER DEPTH? “We’re not deep enough at this point. We’re really not. We’re working hard to get some guys up to speed, possibly looking at moving some guys, developing the guys we’ve got, getting them better, but we need to improve.”

HAVE ENOUGH DEPTH AFTER CLASS COMES IN? “We didn’t sign a linebacker, so that obviously comes to mind right away. We need to address that some how, some way, but you know we have some bodies there, we just need to get them better. The rest of the class, we feel like they’ll add some depth.”

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH QUARTERBACK ROTATION FOR BLUE-WHITE? “We are going to rotate them equally. So Coach (Neal) Brown and I were talking about that. We’ll continue to work on that. They’ll play on both sides, so those three guys will play on both teams. We figured everybody would put some attention on who starts with the first group and all that. We’re probably going to flip a coin, probably right in front of them. Again, we’re telling the truth there. We feel like we have three guys and that’s great in a lot of ways, but that hurts in some ways because they’re not getting reps with the ones and the consistency that we need. But there’s three guys and they all bring certain things to the table that are good. They’re all looking good at times. We’ll give them all opportunities in that scrimmage, or try to be as equal as we can, depending on the drives and all that.”

SO YOU WILL STICK TO A GAME FORMAT? “We are. We are. It will be abbreviated to some extent just because of depth.”

HOW MUCH WILL SUMMER HELP CREATE SOME SEPARATION WITH QUARTERBACKS, LEADERSHIP, ETC.? “It can’t come into the decision making because that’s all voluntary, but we’ll see the results on the field because those guys are going to have to work, to be leaders this summer and get the receivers out here and the same defensively. These guys have to work on their own. We expect them to do that and we’ll see the results when we get back out there in the fall.”

WILL THERE BE MUCH SPECIAL TEAMS IN THE BLUE-WHITE GAME? “The Blue-White game will be very toned down special teams wise. There’s no point getting anybody hurt going live on the special teams. So it will be toned down. We may do one or two kick returns. We’ll punt, but it will be basically just punting it and wherever they fair catch it, we’ll start the other team going from there.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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