Mark Stoops’ Monday news conference


“Very disappointed in the loss and the way we performed. We need to get to work, we need to coach better, we need to play better. We’ve got to put them in a better position schematically to win games, and psychologically we’ve got to get them to play better and just get over the hump and learn how to win and play the right kind of football. Looking forward to getting going this week, getting back on the practice field today and preparing for Miami. There’s enough blame to go around with everybody, and there’s a lot of work to do. Just anxious to get back on the field and get going.”

ON TEAM NOT BEING EXCITED ENOUGH BEFORE THE GAME?Just trying to find a balance there, just trying…See who we are, what we can do. What we can do schematically on both sides of the ball, and again just seeing where we’re at psychologically, seeing what we’re made of and playing the game the right way.”


WHAT LED TO THAT DECISION? There’s a lot of things. Just because we’re naming Max, we’re not putting that loss on Jalen whatsoever. There’s an awful lot of people that could do things better, starting with me. We just…Max, he came in there and did some good things, and Jalen did some good things as well, just like we thought he would. There were some critical errors, you know, from both quarterbacks. We need to improve at that position. We just feel like Max gives us the best opportunity this week.”

ANY INJURY UPDATES YOU CAN PROVIDE? “No. There’s really nothing. We’ve got some bumps and some bruises. I was just getting some updates. Kyle Budde is the only one that’s out. He’ll be out for the year. He’s out backup snapper. He got injured. He’ll be out. He’s going to require surgery.”

WHAT HE LIKED BEST AFTER WATCHING THE FILM: Well, I think we ran the ball well. Just like we figured we would at times. We’d have some opportunity to run the ball. I thought Jalen ran the ball well when we had some designed quarterback runs. I thought Ray (Sanders) did some good things and the line did some good things at times. I think Ray will see as we watch the film that we even left some yards out there. I thought that was good. We didn’t play very good defense the whole game really, but we had a few stops here and there. We had a chance to get three fumbles — penalty brought one back. I thought that as poorly as we were playing it gave us an opportunity at one point to take the lead, which would have been nice. Our guys hung in there. Our attitude is right. We’ve just got to find some answers and get better.”

WHAT HE LEARNED AS A HEAD COACH IN HIS FIRST GAME: Well, I don’t know if there’s any one thing. Just handling the whole situation, first time going through that. Everything from the coin toss to captains to just the whole organization and managing the game was a little bit different for me. I’m used to obviously just coaching the defense and going over and making those adjustments in between series. So just managing the whole game.”

ON TRAVAUGHN PASCHAL MOVING INTO STARTING SPOT: “We just have to play him. We have to get him on the field. I just feel like we have not been playing winning football at linebacker. We need to improve.”

PLAYERS TALKED ABOUT IMPROVING GAP RESPONSIBILITY. WHAT DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE THAT? “We just keep on working. Just get back to fundamentals. I think I said this the other day after the game, but that’s one of the things I’m most disappointed in: Is the things that we should’ve played better than we did. The things we were in position to play better and we just didn’t do it. We’ve got to go back to work and it starts with fundamentals.”

WHERE IN RELATION TO WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD WITH THIS TEAM VERSUS WHAT HE SAW ON SATURDAY: “That’s hard to answer. You know me, I’m not one to sit here and throw anybody under the bus. I said it from the very beginning: It’s our job to put them in position to be successful. That’s still our job. You know, players have responsibility, sure. The big thing for me is just finding the right chemistry, psychologically getting them ready to play, getting them over the hump. You know, I saw some wide eyes out there on Saturday and we’ve got to get over that. We’ve got to cut loose and play.”

ON DEFENSIVE LINE ON FIRST AND SECOND DOWN SPECIFICALLY: “I saw some people going back to some poor habits. And you know, I should’ve done a better job of forcing … Because when things go bad, the players just want to go back out there and just try to make plays. That’s never a good thing. When things go bad, you go back to fundamentals and paying attention to the small details. We lost sight of the details on both sides of the ball. And for that, I accept that responsibility. You had a good idea that some of that was going to happen and it did and guys just kind of — they mean well, but that doesn’t they’re playing well — you can’t just get out there doing your own thing and running under blocks and so on and so forth.”

TEAM CONCEPT? “Team concept. Everybody on the same page and small details we have to do a much better job.”

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE PSYCHOLOGY OF IT, GET THEM PAST FIRST GAME? “The first thing is we all have to accept the reality of it is. Accept that and embrace it: It is what it is. I’m not discouraged. I’m anxious to get back out there today and I know the team will. And that’s just it: There’s no easy formula, no easy switch, there’s no magical scheme on either side of the ball that we can do overnight. We’ve got to get back to work and handle it with the right attitude and embrace it and get better.”

ON CODY QUINN’S INJURY, NOT BEING ON DEPTH CHART? “We’re trying to get him healthy. We put him back out there last week and we thought he was going to go and he had a minor setback. He’s close again, but I don’t know where he’s at. So right now, he’s not able to practice full go.”

WHAT WAS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE SECONDARY? “Not good enough. We need to improve, again, it’s a team loss. We’re all in this together, but we didn’t play good enough at a lot of positions. We played poorly in the secondary. I was very disappointed with position on the football. That’s what I talked about going into the game, our awareness on a couple things was very poor.”

ON NEEDING A GOOD WEEK AGAINST MIAMI FOR CONFIDENCE: “Yeah, I think it is important. And, you know, I said that going into last week. I know how important the first game was. And I understand the momentum that we had, and have, and I understand it’s a quick trip. And people are going to jump off that bandwagon quick. You know, so, that’s our M.O. We’re not worried about it. We’re worried about getting better. Win or lose. Said that to the team, ‘win or lose, back to work on Sunday.’ We know we have to improve. Whether we won that game or lost that game. Sure, we wanted to win. We put a lot into it to win. We just didn’t do it good enough. And it’s back to work today.”

ON JOE MANSOUR’S CONFIDENCE: “I can’t say that I’m not worried about it. I saw what you saw.”

ON OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKERS: “We did a nice job of creating some explosive plays. Some guys that we thought could do it — you know, we’ll get more as we go. Javess is a guy that can create some big plays. Timmons. Just like we thought with Jalen. And Raymond, like you said. And then some others. So we expect some more guys to step up. You know, Alex Montgomery didn’t play as much as we had planned. He was sick as a dog all of a sudden last week when we left. He was very sick. So he came back (and) people worked extremely hard to get him on the field. It’s not — I would have liked to have seen him.”

IS THERE A PLAN FOR JALEN WHITLOW: “Yes, I think Jalen has deserved an opportunity to play. But again, if Max is going out there and rolling, things are going good, then we’ll stay with Max. But yes, we want Jalen to play. We believe he can bring some diversity to our package and make some people prepare for some different things with his skill set. So yes, we will always have him ready.”

IS HE SURPRISED A PLAYER SAID HE WAS OVERCONFIDENT: “Yes. That’s for sure. That very much does. That’s — you know, that’s a fine line. Buying in, believing, doing everything — that’s not fake. We know where we’re at. You know, I’m not going to sit here and say bad things about our players, you know. I’m going to take the responsibility to put them in a position to win. But we have a long way to go. Anybody that doesn’t understand that has got some issues that we need to sit down and talk about.”

ON WHAT WENT WRONG STOPPING THE RUN: “I was very disappointed, and I can’t put it all on any one person or any one group. Any time people are getting big chunks on first, second down like they were doing, then it’s poor team defense. It was at all levels. It was D-linemen trying to do too much and it was poor pursuit by the second level at the linebacker position, on things that we worked extremely hard at. And then it was poor position and poor reaction from the secondary in certain situations. So it was everybody.”

ON WHETHER ANYONE PERFORMED BETTER THAN HE THOUGHT AFTER WATCHING IT ON FILM: “(long pause) No, no. I think we  need to drastically improve at all positions, I really do. There was too many instances where we just kind of rat-trapped back to very poor habits. That was discouraging because we worked extremely hard on the details, and we didn’t do that. That’s where we need to improve. That’s where I need to improve and get the team to improve, is not to flinch. Bad things are going to happen. That’s not the worst thing that’s going to happen to us all year. There’s going to be bad things happen. You have to overcome them and you have to deal with them.”

ON WALKING BACK TO THE LOCKER ROOM WITH AD MITCH BARNHART AND WHAT HE SAID: “Oh, just support. He and I know the reality of the situation and we know there’s a lot to do. I appreciate the support. Nobody puts more pressure on anybody than myself and this staff. We’re disappointed. We know we could’ve done things better, and we plan on doing that. We’re excited to get back to work. That’s the nice thing about us as coaches and our team: we don’t have a whole lot of time to dwell on things or to celebrate. So it’s back to work.”

ON THE ADAGE OF IMPROVING MOST FROM THE FIRST WEEK TO THE SECOND: “I thought about that saying, that’s for sure. I did. I really did. I thought about that because I do anticipate that, I really do. I feel like—I think we’re all disappointed because we know we could have done better, so that’s where we’re looking to make that improvement this week.”

MIAMI (OHIO) GAVE UP FIVE PASSING TDS TO MARSHALL. WITH MAXWELL MOVING THE BALL LATE AGAINST WESTERN KENTUCKY: “It does. You know, the big thing, though, and we’ve talked about this before: Every week, you know and I know, we’re going to do whatever it takes to win the game and prepare to win the game. With that being said, you have to build on who you are. That’s where us as a staff are still doing the best we can to put our players in a position to win, to move the ball, to stop people on defense. I think that’s the quandary that you get in to as a play-caller sometimes. What can you do? What can you handle? Neal has full autonomy to do what he needs to do to move the ball. I have tremendous trust and confidence in the whole offensive staff to find that balance, to do what we need to do to win this game and to build on our future.”

ON D.J. ELIOT’S FIRST GAME AS A COORDINATOR: He did good. I know everything that he’s doing, and I accept responsibility for that defensive side of the ball as well. We need to do a better job. But he handled it well. We need to do better.”

ON GIVING UP THE EXACT SAME NUMBER OF YARDS AGAINST HIS BROTHER AS COORDINATOR AT FLORIDA STATE. DOES IT PROVIDE SOLACE YOU CAN TURN THIS AROUND? “Is that right? Wow. I didn’t realize that. I’m sorry—you threw me off there. Yeah. Mmhmm. I’m looking at things hard again. Like I said, nobody’s more critical than myself and our staff. I’m looking at that very hard. I’m looking at everything we’re doing. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be knee-jerk around here. We understand, and I’ve said that over and over again: We accept where we’re at. We will get better. We will move forward as a program, I promise you that. With that, you have to look at what you’re doing and give yourself an opportunity to win. I said it at the time, that was a long time ago but I changed. That was very similar in that it was our second game, we went through all spring, went through camp, went into that game, got shredded, and we changed overnight and really haven’t looked back since. That’s our job, and that’s on both sides of the ball. That’s why people are saying, ‘Are we Air Raid? Are we running?’ Hey man, we’re trying to win. We’re trying to do whatever we have to do to win games, to put our players in a position to be successful on all sides of the ball. Yeah, I’m looking deep into what we’re doing defensively and seeing what we can do better and putting our players in more of a position to be successful.”

ON MAX SMITH SAYING HE NEEDS TO BE A LEADER WHETHER HE STARTS OR NOT. IS THAT WHAT YOU NEED FROM HIM? “Yes it is. And I thought he did a great job during the game when he was not playing. I’ve said that all along that those (quarterbacks) have handled the situation very well. He did a great job, and we do need that kind of leadership, yes.”

WAS HE HAPPY THE TEAM WAS ABLE TO COMEBACK AFTER FALLING BEHIND? “I mean, yes, I care about the psyche of our team and I care about how we play always. Start to finish we’re going to play hard. I did like the way we finished and fought, but we need to fight a little harder and play a little harder from the beginning. When bad things happen, we need to handle it better emotionally. I talked about before, I thought we were excited and then a few bad things happen and all of the sudden, everybody’s worried about all kind of things. Just settle in; it’s a long game. That’s where I thought we could have handled things better.”

WERE FAN EXPECTATIONS OUT OF LINE WITH REALITY? “Yeah. I think I’ve said that. I’ve been honest. I mean, what do you say? I mean, we want excitement. We want people believing in what we’re doing. We believe in what we’re doing. As a coaching staff and as players, we believe in what we’re doing. Of course I want the excitement here, I want the fans here and I want the people behind us. I just have a hard time saying bad things about our players. It is what it is. Again, I accept responsibility for that. I know exactly what we’re in. I knew what I was getting into, and I know what I’m into. We’re not gonna flinch. We’re gonna do the best thing we can to move forward and win games.”

DOES HE HAVE TO JUGGLE BEING BAD COP THIS WEEK WITHOUT HURTING PLAYER CONFIDENCE, DOES IT DEPEND ON THE PLAYER? “No, it does. I’m talking about other people here now, when you quote me on this, but you tell somebody they stink, they’re gonna stink. That’s not my style. We all need to do better.”

ON WHAT HE’D SAY TO FANS WHO ARE FALLING OFF BANDWAGON ABOUT IMPORTANCE OF HOME OPENER? “Well, I didn’t say that anybody was on our off. I just would assume some people would probably fall off. But, you know, again, I so greatly appreciate the support. Our players do. And we’re in this for the long haul. We told our players after the game, and it’s the same thing with the coaches, ‘We’re going to play 11 more one-week seasons.’ So we’ve got 11 more.”

ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: “I thought they did a nice job at times. I really did. I think Darrian (Miller) in particular played winning football. Obviously some penalties that we need to get cleaned up, but I really did think he did some decent things, and we probably should have gotten Max in there a little bit, Godby. But Zach was snapping better, more consistent with his snaps. But he did some good things. I think Kevin Mitchell did a nice job, and (Jordan) Swindle. Obviously we need to get rid of the pre-snap penalties.”

WAS THERE A REASON FOR THOSE PENALTIES? “We practiced some movements and some things that they were doing. We obviously could have done it more, but in the game it happens. In hindsight, sure, I think we could have prepared a little bit more, but they do some shifts and some movements that we knew were coming. Just didn’t handle them very well at times.”

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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2 Responses to Mark Stoops’ Monday news conference

  1. Edward says:

    Good report Jennifer

  2. scorpiocard says:

    What? Only one other comment. Where is everybody? I guess they all fell off of the bandwagon…