Mark Stoops, D.J. Eliot after Friday practice


“We had a good practice. We treated today like a Tuesday practice for Western Kentucky, and very pleased; I thought it was a very good day. It was the first time we went through this format, where we go scouts and then we go against each other for part of the period. So overall, very pleased. Thought it was very good work.”

ON GETTING ZA’DARIUS SMITH BACK: “Yeah, Za’Darius was back. Yeah, he was, he looked good. Really good.”

ON HOW FAR BEHIND SMITH IS: “He won’t be far behind. No, he won’t. We’ll get him caught up. He’ll be fine.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING HIM BACK: “It was, it was good. He looked good. He’s been close. He did have a high-ankle sprain, and those, you all know, are very touchy. Even when you’re feeling good, you get in there and start pushing on people and it’s a little bit hairy. So we feel like he’s made good progress and feels pretty good right now. That’s it on the injury front; nobody else really to speak of.”

ON CB CODY QUINN (ANKLE): “I don’t want to discuss it any further. I’ve been very lenient with you guys (grinning), so don’t push it. It’s getting time to start preparing for games.”

ON WHETHER SMITH’S ABSENCE GAVE OTHER GUYS A CHANCE TO IMPROVE: “Yeah, we’ve been working a lot of guys. Everybody needs the reps. You know how we’ve been doing reps through camp. We’ve talked about it: everybody’s been getting so many reps, so now that we’re starting to game plan, it’s been good.”

ON D-TACKLE PATRICK GRAFFREE TWEETING HE’S TRANSFERRING TO EKU: “Yeah, that’s what I heard today when I was in practice. We wish Patrick the best. You can’t ask for a better person. I’ve really learned to appreciate Patrick and all the work he’s done for us, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

ON WHETHER THE TRANSFER SURPRISED HIM: “Yeah, I was, but we had a talk with a lot of guys when we got through camp (about) where we were at. So he may not have been happy with that. I understand that. I don’t want to get into detail on that, but I do wish him the best.”

ON WHETHER HE EXPECTS OTHER TRANSFERS: “Possibly, possibly. Uh-huh.”

ON THAT SPEAKING TO THE DEPTH AT D-TACKLE: “Yeah, it does. I think we feel pretty good about some of the guys we have. We’re just looking for everybody to get better, really, but Patrick would’ve had a hard time getting some playing time.”

ON ALREADY GAME-PLANNING FOR WKU: “Yeah, it’s a Tuesday practice for us.”

ON WHAT HE SEES ON FILM: “It’s hard to judge scheme-wise. We can’t look at that. Really you’re just looking at personnel and just different people. The first thing you look at is (Antonio) Andrews. You look at No. 5 and you just see an absolutely fantastic football player. He’s a very good player, does everything for them, and he deserves all the accolades he’s been getting.”

ON LOOKING AT BOBBY PETRINO FILM FROM PREVIOUS STOPS: “That’s what we look at, yeah. And with him, he’s such a talented coach, I’m sure he’s added a few wrinkles over the past year, but we did go back and look hard at what he’s done.”


ON THE STARTING QB: “We’re working through it.”

BETTER IDEA ABOUT RETURNERS? Yeah. Demarco (Robinson) will be handling the punts. We’re working a few other guys in there as well. So he’ll be doing the punt returns.”

WHAT ROBINSON DID TO SEPARATE HIMSELF THERE? He’s just been steady back there. Ryan (Timmons)’s done a nice job. When we were in the stadium, he muffed a few. So we feel good with Demarco.”

IF HE’S COMFORTABLE THAT RETURN GAME COULD BE A WEAPON THIS SEASON? “I hope so. I hope overall the special teams…We’ve worked extremely hard. Coach Peveto has done a great job. We’ve put an awful lot of time into it, so hopefully we’ll see some results.”

FEELS GOOD ABOUT KICKER AND PICKED A STARTER? “We’ll announce that here in the next couple of days with them, but it looks like it’s going to be Joe (Mansour). Joe has done a nice job.”

WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT MANSOUR? Well Joe has made two…When we’ve done two-minute drill in the stadium in scrimmage-like situations, he’s hit two 50-plus to win the game, to win the scrimmage, to win that situation — let’s put it that way. So, with the pressure on, everybody watching him, he’s hit two over 50. I like that. Yeah. Yeah. I thought that was good.”

ON WIDE RECEIVER RASHAD CUNNINGHAMYeah. Rashad Cunningham will not be participating this fall in games. He’s ineligible to participate.”


ALSO … “Then, on a positive note, we just awarded Max Godby a scholarship for the year.”

HOW CENTER COMPETITION SHAPING UP? “It’s good. Max is doing a good job.”

IS GODBY THE LEADER THERE RIGHT NOW? Yeah, he is. I think the kids really respect him. He works really hard. He’s done a nice job.”

FEEL GOOD TO GIVE A KID LIKE THAT A SCHOLARSHIP? Very good. Yeah. Very good. The team was excited. He was excited. Yeah, I felt good.”

WAS GODBY SURPRISED BY THE NEWS? “He was. He looked…He looked emotional and, you know, you feel good about that. He’s worked awfully hard, and he deserves it. We’re excited to give him one.”

DID HE FEEL LIKE SANTA CLAUS HANDING OUT IPADS YESTERDAY? “Yeah. Well they were good. Yeah. I wasn’t in there when they gave it to them. We had split it up. They had so much with all that stuff to go through. You know, that’s not my expertise right there. (Laughs). So some other folks were showing them how to use it and do all that stuff. It was good. I think it was good for them. We’ll put them to good use. It’s a nice perk for those guys. But, that’s issued to them. Obviously we’ll collect that back. It will help them in a lot of ways.”

HE’S SET ON OFFENSIVE LINE NOW? Feel good about it. We feel like where we’re at…We’re not as deep as we need to be. We feel good about six guys, you know, six, seven guys. We’ve got a six, seven-guy rotation. We’ll have to move some guys around. If we get an injury, it’s not just necessarily that the two deep across the board. We’ll go with the next best player.”

HIS FEELINGS ABOUT SECONDARY? “They’re getting better. We’ve been more consistent throughout camp. We’ve had some situations where I’ve been disappointed. You know, a few scrimmages, a few practices where I felt like we regressed, but overall they’re improving.”



ON ZA’DARIUS SMITH BEING BACK: “It was good to have him out there and he did a good job for his first day back.”

HOW MUCH DIFFERENT DOES HE MAKE YOUR DEFENSE UP FRONT WHEN HE’S AVAILABLE? “He adds some good size at end there for us. He’s a good technician like he was in the spring. It’s good to have that back on the defense.”

ANY CONCERNS ABOUT HIM BEING BEHIND? “You know, definitely could’ve developed more if he’d have practiced, but he was probably the furthest along as it was at defensive end going into camp, so I still feel good about him.”

HOW MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE DOES THAT MAKE BUD DUPREE, CAN’T DOUBLE TEAM BOTH OF THEM? “We’ve got a handful of defensive ends that are good players and anytime you can get two good edge rushers, it allows at least one of them to be single blocked.”


EXPERIMENTING WITH PASCHAL’S POSITION? “Pashcal is playing defensive end and he’s an outside backer for us in the 3-4.”

HOW MUCH BEYOND THE BASE 4-3 DO YOU PLAN TO USE? “It’s week by week, whatever we decide to do. One week we may decide to be a 3-4 team. One week we may decide to be a 4-3 team, so it’s week by week.”

HOW IS NATE WILLIS COMING ALONG? “Nate’s coming along good.”

WHAT KIND OF PROGRESS HAVE YOU SEEN FROM HIM? “Very good. He’s a veteran player. He’s a junior, which is good to have veteran players for us at corner and so he’s got some skills he’s developed in junior college for that age, so it’s good to have somebody at that position.”

BIGGEST CONCERN GOING AGAINST A PETRINO OFFENSE? “Well, you’ve got to make sure you’re fundamentally sound because they have good fundamentally sound offenses and they’ll attack you at the right spots, so you’ve got to make sure you’re fundamentally sound.”

BEHIND AVERY WILLIAMSON, WHO IS SHAKING THINGS UP AT LINEBACKER? “Avery’s starting Mike and at the Will position, Khalid (Henderson) has been taking a majority of those reps at Will.”

IS ERIC DIXON STILL RUNNING WITH FIRST TEAM AT SAFETY? “He is. He is. Eric Dixon is still running with the first team along with Daron Blaylock.”

IS PATRICK GRAFFREE JUST A NICE KID NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO PLAY AT THIS LEVEL? “No. I think Patrick just made a decision that was best for himself. We wish him the best of luck.”

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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