Stoops transcript from final spring practice

Coach Mark Stoops discussed the final practice leading up to the Blue-White Spring Game and much, much more. Here’s the transcript:

OPENING STATEMENT: “Good practice. I was very pleased. We had a lot of energy today. No pads, but guys were moving around, executing well on both sides of the ball, enjoying the practice. We got some good work; that’s good.”

ON THE LOUD ROAR AT END OF PRACTICE: “Ah. We were just having a little fun. We started dividing the teams and the guys were enjoying it. I can’t tell you all of that information.”

WERE THEY DIVIDING FIRST AND SECOND TEAMS, LIKE THAT? “Nah. How it’s going to work tomorrow is we’re going to have — I think I said that the other day — the No. 1 offense will be in the white with the No. 2 defense and vice versa.”

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR TOMORROW NIGHT? “Just good football. Good execution, good tough blocking, good tough running, catching the football. On defense, great pursuit. Physical, making good tackles, just good execution on both sides.”

THERE’S GOING TO BE A CATWALK TOMORROW, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR OUT OF FANS FOR THAT? “That’s new to me. I’m looking forward to embracing that tradition and going through my first Catwalk. I’m excited about that. I’m excited about the energy and really appreciate the great support that we’ve received and from everything I’m hearing about the spring game tomorrow. The team feels that; we’re energized by that. We greatly appreciate that support and we’re looking forward to it.”

WILL YOU DO ANY SITUATIONAL STUFF OR WILL IT BE STRAIGHT GAME FORMAT? “Straight game format. Again, we’re not going to do any of the kicking. We’ve had a few injuries here and there with some of our kickers and things. We’re not going to do any kickoffs or kickoff returns. We’re just going to put the ball down and start. The punting, we’ll just punt it, fair catch it, turn around and go the other way.”

DO YOU HAVE SOME RETURNERS IN MIND? “We’re going to work through a few returners still when we get some looks at some guys tomorrow.”

ARE FIRST AND SECOND TEAMS IN PLACE IN YOUR MIND? “It is. After 14 practices, it is. I know I haven’t released a depth chart, but you all will see it tomorrow who’s on what team. That’s where it’s at right now with the exception of the quarterbacks again. You know the situation there. They’re not going to be on any particular team. We’re going to rotate those guys.”

ON WHO ON OFFENSE HAS CAUSED THE DEFENSE HEADACHES THIS SPRING: “You know, all those guys have done a good job. I thought the O-line has done a nice job of blocking. The running backs have done a good job at different times, but I don’t know if there’s any one guy in particular that jumps out at me.”

ON WHAT UK GOT OUT OF SPRING BALL: “Well, I think first of all we have a good understanding of the base offense and the base defense. That was very important. I think they have a good understanding of the tempo that we want to operate. I think they’ve got a good understanding of how precise we want to be. So we’ve made some good strides in those areas.”

ON BEING HESITANT TO NAME NAMES THIS SPRING. IS THAT A WAY TO MOTIVATE? “Yeah, absolutely, and I think our guys understand that. We’re gaining confidence, we’re getting better, but we also understand we have a long way to go and we’ve gotta stay hungry each and every day or we’re not going to get to where we need to get to.”

ON WHETHER PLAYERS ARE REACTING MORE AND NOT THINKING SO MUCH: “Yeah, I think we’re making some strides. Again, I think with the one group in particular, those guys are getting a good grasp of things and executing much better than the rest of them. The twos and the threes are still struggling in some areas. We need to keep it fairly simple with them. But I think we’re gaining good, solid ones on the offense and the defense.”

IN TERMS OF GAME DAY OPERATIONS, WHAT DOES STOOPS HOPE TO LEARN AS A NEW HEAD COACH? “Yeah, yeah, it is different. Sure, sure. I need to go over things and make sure we’re detailed and all those things. What time we’re meeting, how we’re walking over there, how we’re going to stretch. We’ve got a good staff and we feel like we’re staying on top of those things, but it’s new to me and making sure we’ve got everything covered.”

ON WHETHER IT’S HARD TO KEEP THE STARTERS MOTIVATED WHEN THE BACKUPS AREN’T ALWAYS PERFORMING, PUSHING THEM: “No, it’s not hard to keep the ones motivated. They know. They’ve got coaches crawling up their – getting on them each and every day. So there’s nothing that’s relaxed about any practice. Every rep out here, we take pretty serious and coach them pretty hard.”

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
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