Stoops, Brown after Wednesday practice

MARK STOOPS
“Good work today. Good Wednesday. Obviously as you get into the second game and you get into the season, you start putting your wrinkles in for third down packages and so on. So, hit a few rough patches in there here and there, but overall, pretty good day.”

ON IF HE CRINGES WHEN HE GOES TO MEET TRAINER JIM MADALENO ABOUT INJURIES: “You know, it’s one of those issues where you’re constantly trying to balance moving forward as a program and where that line’s drawn, because we need so much work. Shoot, we could sit out here all day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We need all the reps we can get. But we also need to try to win games, so there’s a fine line there, with continuing to move forward with your program and getting guys healthy enough to win games, because obviously we can’t afford to lose many guys.”

HOW HEALTHY THEY ARE? “I think we’re decent. We’re probably no different than most teams, honestly. We can’t complain, we just know we’re not real deal. I think we’re probably about par or a little better than most teams, but I don’t know with, you know, the depth.”

ON IF HE’S SEEING A DIFFERENCE IN THE PLAY OF YOUNG GUYS WHO GOT ON FIELD AGAINST WESTERN KENTUCKY? “Yeah, yeah. I think it’ll help. I really do. Like we talked about earlier in the week, you hope that you make drastic improvement between week one and week two, and I suspect we will. It seems like we have a calmer attitude about us today and this week and just going about our business to improve. And again, we’ve talked about that a lot, but it’s so true. Each and every day, no matter who the opponent or what’s going on, we just got to get better every day.”

ON SEEING CHANGES IN MAXWELL SMITH AND IF HE’S TAKING MORE CONTROL: “Yeah, I think he has. I really have (seen that). And I think those guys have been real respectful to each other and to the team throughout this process, because everybody wants to know about it. And they understand the attention that goes with it, and they were all in a pretty good battle. I think it’s gotten to the point now where it’s, hey, ‘Heck (with) it. Let me just take it and do the best I can,’ and that’s what we’re looking for. So I see a little bit of a change in him.”

ON WHAT SET MAX APART WHEN THEY LOOKED AT VIDEO: “Again, Max wasn’t perfect either. Like I said earlier in the week, Jalen did some really good things. And like I said all along, it has a lot to do with the other players around him, when you move the football or don’t move the football. It’s not at all ever on the quarterback. But he made less mistakes and he did some of the basic things that we’re looking for correctly and distributed the ball where we needed to. So that was the big thing with helping us move the football.”

ON HOW RECEIVERS NOT BLOCKING HURT UK’S ATTACK: “It did. It did, and things are a little different when you get into a game situation, as you know. And that’s one of the trademarks of Neal’s offenses and in particular Tommy Mainord, the wide receiver coach. If you watch Texas Tech play last year, that’s one of the things that jumps out at you the first thing is how tough and physical those receivers are and were. And that’s obviously a compliment to the coaching. So we need to get the same thing going here.”

ON IF THAT’S A MENTALITY: “It is. It’s a mentality, it’s technique, it’s system. And like I said, I really believe these guys, they know how to get it out of them. We just got to continue to work on it, get better.”

ON HOW TIMMONS HAS BEEN THIS WEEK: “He’s been good. He’s a pretty steady guy. He really doesn’t — at least I don’t notice him – get too high or too low.”

ON IF TIMMONS FUMBLING IS A CONCERN AFTER TALK OF HIM DROPPING PUNTS IN SCRIMMAGES, ETC.? “I don’t know where you got that information, but he’ll be fine. He’s a good football player. He’s a young guy and he’s got to just keep on working and making plays, because he’s a playmaker and we need him out there.”

ON IF GETTING YOUNG RECEIVERS TO BLOCK IS A SEASON LONG THING SINCE THEY PROBABLY DIDN’T DO IT IN HIGH SCHOOL? “That’s correct. It is. It’ll be — I hate to use that word again, it’s a process. If you notice, I’ve really tried to stay away from that. It’s gonna be a long, yes. It’s gonna be time to do all those things correctly. You’re trying to draw (“process”) out of me. We’re all tired of that.”

ON IF MAKING THE CHANGE AT QUARTERBACK AND WIDE RECEIVER WAS TO GET MORE FIRST-TEAM REPS FOR THE NEW STARTERS RIGHT AWAY: “It is. Last week, I was honest with you guys. I told that you I had made that decision and the team, we knew who was going to start the game, but it was the first game. You might as well use it to your advantage if you could. But again, I’m sure they were prepared for both quarterbacks, and everybody we play will prepare for both quarterbacks, because we will have a package with Jalen.”

ON CODY QUINN, KORY BROWN AND NATE WILLIS’ STATUS: “We’re working on it. We are. We’re working on getting those guys out there. We’re getting some reps out of them.”

NEAL BROWN
We had a good day. Kids have bounced back. They’re resilient. Had two hard practices. Just focusing on fundamentals really. No drastic changes in what we’re doing offensively. The schematics, what we’re doing, work. Success has been proven. We’ve just got to go back and pay more attention to details.”

ON IF MAX SMITH HAS BEEN ANY DIFFERENT SINCE BEING NAMED A STARTER: Yeah I think that comfort is a good word for that. It’s hard to be a leader as a backup. I think you can, but it’s hard. I thought he did a good job during the game until he went in went in giving energy and supporting his teammates on the sidelines. I definitely agree with that. I think it’s easier as a starter, no matter what position and especially at quarterback, to be a leader.”

ON WHAT HE SAW ON FILM THAT MADE HIM PICK SMITH: “Well, he just made some more plays. I thought he did a better job handling the environment, and he played well enough, he led us on some scoring drives there. So, we felt like that he gave us the best opportunity this week.”

DID THEY HAVE TO CHANGE A LOT IN THE RUN GAME WITH SMITH AT QUARTERBACK? No, not really. No, not really. I think we talked about this back during preseason camp. The run plays are basically the same. It’s how we…On our inside zone and our outside zone how we take care of the edge changes a little bit depending on who’s in, whether it’s Jalen or Max. I don’t think we’ll have any called runs. We may surprise Miami with that. I guess they better work it. But you all know better than that.”

ON WHY HE TOLD MAX SMITH TO STAY AWAY FROM PLAYERS AND WATCH WHILE ON THE BENCH: “He just needs to get where he can see. If you stand right at the line of scrimmage, it’s difficult to see. If you get the further away…That’s why I tend to get on the other side of where we’re going, of where we’re at on the field cause it’s easier to see. You can see the defense. I thought he did a good job. He was prepared for what they were doing on defense when he went in the game.”

IF HE THINKS SMITH MIGHT BE A GAMER WHO PERFORMS BETTER IN GAMES THAN ON PRACTICE FIELD? “I’m not real sure. I have a hard time…I don’t believe in gamers really. I just don’t think they exist. I think he played better in the game, but I still think he’s capable of playing better in a scrimmage. I think he’s capable of playing a lot better in the game. I think he did some good things when he played the last two years. He needs to be a better player when he starts the game than at any point he’s been during his career.”

WHAT HE DIDN’T GET FROM SMITH IN THE SCRIMMAGES THAT HE GOT IN THE GAME? That’s a good question. I think he was more productive. In the scrimmages, he wasn’t as productive as he was on Saturday. What did he have? I guess he had three drives, and all three of them were points — I’d like to think the one that Ryan (Timmons) fumbled would have been also. We’ve got 1st-and-10 on the 26, so…”

HOW TIMMONS HAS RESPONDED TO UP AND DOWN DEBUT: Well, I mean, the same. Those guys are going to get a little better every week. You know, the Ryan Timmonses, the Jeff Badets, the Alex Montgomerys — he’s been a little sick, he’s better know — Jojo Kemps. Those guys are going to get a little better ever week. When you play young guys, you’ve got to be ready. There’s going to be some ups and downs, and I knew that coming into it.

“I don’t condone fumbling – and we work ball security really hard – but I thought he did some good things with the ball in his hands. He’ll be a bigger part of the game plan this week. But there’s going to be some ups and downs when you’re playing young people.”

ON RECEIVERS BLOCKING: “I wasn’t pleased. I wasn’t pleased with how our inside receivers blocked. Our tight ends and our H’s (slot receivers), I think we’ve gotta block a lot better. That’s one thing we really prided ourselves at, at the other stops I’ve been at, is being really physical on the inside. And I didn’t think we were.”

ON ASSESSING THE OFFENSE IN WEEK ONE: “Here’s what I think: We did some good things. There’s a little bit – comfort’s not the right word, but we had some moments. We ran the ball effectively for sure, especially on some big plays, had some big plays. I was not pleased with how we ran the ball on first down. Did not run the ball in that situation, and I really think that’s what hurt us. If we could’ve gotten going on first down a little bit more, we would’ve run more plays, we’d have had a chance to get them more fatigued and really set the pace that we wanted to play with.

“But there is some bright spots when we look at it. Here we are: I’m disappointed in how we played; I’m disappointed because we didn’t win the game; I’m disappointed that we only ran 60 plays; I’m disappointed that we had six penalties before the ball was snapped. But if we can pay attention to details and we can get more physical, we can play winning football on our side of the ball. That’s what I told the kids on Monday when I got in front of them, and I really believe that.”

ON SAYING NO DRASTIC CHANGES, BUT WHETHER GOING FROM JALEN WHITLOW TO MAX SMITH AT QB DOESN’T REPRESENT A FAIR DRASTIC CHANGE IN PHILOSOPHY: “No, not really. I don’t know. You know, that’s a good question. What I meant when I got up here was schematically we’re not changing. Will we look different with Jalen at quarterback than Max? Yes. Yes, we will. But does the base of the offense change? No. Maybe what I call does, but the offense doesn’t.”

ON HOW MANY PLAYS WERE AVAILABLE TO WHITLOW AND TO SMITH IN WEEK 1: “Well there’s things that each of them do better. What we do is keep statistically every play that we run – run, pass, screen, whatever – and we really try to pick the plays that we’re the best at, that we’ve been the best at through the spring and through preseason camp, and then those plays that match up with what the defense is doing. Those are the plays that we kind of go into (a game) with. We’ve got a huge menu of plays – not huge, but we’ve got a menu of plays – and then we kind of filter that down each game week.”

ON HOW COMFORTABLE HE IS USING WHITLOW SITUATIONALLY, LIKE THE ONE QB KEEPER PLAY IN THE FOURTH VS. WKU WHILE SMITH WAS THE MAIN QB: “Yeah, Jalen’s gonna play. He’s gonna play. Jalen will play in this game.”

ON HEARING THE ‘WHERE’S THE AIR RAID?’ CHATTER AFTER RUNNING SO MUCH WEEK 1: “(Grinning) We’re going to do what we need to do to win. That’s what we’re going to do. And here’s the deal: We’re young at wideout. We’ve got some guys, we’re getting better, but we’re young at wideout. And we’ve got some new starters up front. So I think you go in and you do what you’ve gotta do to win the game. And we felt like early in the game, what we did on Saturday gave us our best chance. And it did. We didn’t play like we wanted to (but) bottom line is it’s 24-17 and we had two drives to take the lead, you know, coming out of the third quarter. And we didn’t take advantage of those. If we executed better, who knows? Then we came in, Max came in the game, and we threw the ball almost every snap there in the fourth quarter and we had some success. So we’ll see.”

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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One Response to Stoops, Brown after Wednesday practice

  1. Pingback: A look at Kentucky’s first down runs last week | John Clay's Sidelines

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