Stoops, Eliot after Tuesday practice

“Good day today. Good work. It was good. We really just primarily went against each other and had a good physical, competitive day. We had one long period where we did some corrections from the Louisville game where we worked some scout work, but the rest of the time was against each other. Had some good work, like I said. I feel like we’re getting better in certain areas. So just looking to continue to improve.”

HOW IS MAXWELL SMITH DOING? “He says, he told me he was feeling good. I mean, he didn’t throw any balls today, but he said he’s feeling good.”

HOW CONCERNED IS STOOPS ABOUT SMITH’S SHOULDER? “Hopefully it’ll just be a few days, I would think. Doesn’t seem to be anything major.”

HOW MUCH THEY’RE PREPARING FOR FLORIDA THIS WEEK: “We’ll prepare for them. We’ve been looking at tape obviously and preparing our game plans and things like that. Today, like I said, primarily we did corrections and then we did just good work, good on good, just to get better; just to fundamentally get better and execute better against good people. So tomorrow we’ll go back to Florida, tomorrow and Thursday. We’ll do a mixture tomorrow. We’ll do a lot of good on good – a little bit more than a normal Wednesday good on good and we’ll also do Florida for the next two days.”

WHAT HE LEARNED ABOUT HIS TEAM FROM LOUISVILLE GAME: “Like I told you after the game, I think I saw a little bit more fight. I saw us a little bit more aggressive. We need to continue to execute better, so that’s what we’re working on this week. But they showed some toughness.”


IS REESE PHILLIPS A FACTOR? “Well, he’s taking a few reps, just because we’re down to the three of them, but Patrick will be in there.”

ON AVERY WILLIAMSON’S PLAY AND LEADERSHIP: “Avery is just a very strong leader. He’s playing very tough. He makes a lot of tackles. He puts a lot into it. It’s very important to him. So I think everybody respects that about him, the way he approaches the game, the way he puts in the work during the week, and he’s a very good leader and a very good player.”

FRUSTRATION OF LOUISVILLE FILM, SEEING PLAYS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BIG NOT WORK OUT: “It was frustrating. It was frustrating. It is. I mean, yeah, it was frustrating. But it’s always like that after a loss. We feel like there’s a lot of plays we left on the field. We need to execute better and we need to play better.”

ANYTHING BESIDES TENNIS BALL MACHINE THEY CAN DO TO DECREASE RECEIVER DROPS? “No. You just keep on doing what you do. We got the guys we keep on working with to try and get them better.”

DOES BYE WEEK COME AT A GOOD TIME BEFORE DIFFICULT STRETCH? “I guess so. Somebody asked me that. I guess it does. We can certainly use this week to get better as a football team and not worry so much about game-planning as far as just getting better. I think it can help in that regard.”

ON DARYL COLLINS NOT PLAYING VERSUS LOUISVILLE AND WHY: “A variety of things, but he’ll get on the field when he earns his playing time. He was banged up and missed a lot of time. That’s one thing. Didn’t help.”

ON DONTE RUMPH’S INJURY: “Nothing major. Nothing major.”

DID RUMPH PRACTICE TODAY? “No. That’s the last you’ll get out of me this week. It shouldn’t be anything major. He should be fine.”

ANY MAJOR INJURIES? “No. No. There was nothing, no. If there was an injury that I felt that would keep somebody out of the Florida game, I would tell you right now, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.”

ON FUMBLED HANDOFF BETWEEN SMITH AND RAYMOND SANDERS. WHAT DID VIDEO SHOW? “It was a combination. It was a combination of the two of them.”

ON SPECIAL TEAMS: “I’ve been very pleased with the effort from the special teams, really all year. I know we weren’t very good on some decision-making going back to game two, with the Miami game. But other than that, there’s been good play all year from the special teams. I’m very proud of the way those guys are working. I think Coach Peveto’s done a great job and our players have bought in and really worked hard at it, and it’s nice to see some good plays come from them.”

COMING CLOSE TO BREAKING A BIG KICK RETURN: “Yeah. If we could pop one of those – we were close. It is. I wish we’d have got a few more big plays and gave the fans a little more to cheer about and put a little pressure on them, but it didn’t happen. So we’ve got to go back and execute better.”

WILL MOST OF TRUE FRESHMEN END UP PLAYING? “Right now, I think anybody that you’ve seen at this point would be the guys that we’re planning playing.”

BALACING REST WITH NOT GETTING RUSTY IN A BYE WEEK: “Yeah, I kind of agree with that. Sometimes you get a little stagnant coming off of a bye. You’d rather just go all the way through and just keep on getting better. Like I said, it is what it is anyway. I mean, we have the bye. There’s nothing we can do about it, so it really doesn’t matter what I think about that. So we just need to take this time to get better as a football team and help us prepare a little bit extra for Florida and help us get better in a lot of ways.”

EASIER TO GET PLAYERS’ ATTENTION AFTER THEY SEE THEY PLAYED CLOSELY WITH NO. 7 TEAM IN COUNTRY? “I think they saw some good plays. They saw us have the chance to play with that team, and I hope that motivates them to get better. Like I told them, we’ve got to mentally, we’ve got to be tougher and execute when it counts, and we’ve got to dig down and find some more heart and compete a little bit harder.”

PREPARING ANYBODY ELSE ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE: “We’re just keeping the same rotation that we’ve been. We’re always developing all those guys, but right now it’ll be a very similar rotation unless somebody gets hurt.”

UK’S THIRD DOWN DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT: “That is good to see. I think it’s a very important down. We worked on it today very hard. As you know, we’ve got to improve in that area offensively, certainly from last week, so we had a really good third-down period today and a good blitz period today. It’s just a matter of mixing it up and executing the defenses, and really, it comes down to making plays. We talk about it all the time. I mean, there’s no magical play a lot of times. It’s football. You either make a play or you didn’t. Just like on the touchdown at the end of the second quarter there. They went up and made a great play. We didn’t. We had two guys there and they had one, and he went up and got it. So you got to give them credit, but it comes down to making plays.”

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE BYE WEEK? “We’re trying to get better and establish some depth, just going back to basics, getting our fundamentals sound, trying to get some depth built for the rest of the season.”

ON HOW UK USED JASON HATCHER IN LOUISVILLE GAME, WILL THAT BE A REGULAR THING? “I’d like to get Jason on the field as much as I can. He keeps playing well, I want to find a way to get him on the field.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE FROM HIM THAT YOU LIKED? “He plays physical, he plays with a passion. He’s going to play hard, we just got to get him going in the right direction all the time.”

BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE TO TEACH TO GET HIM TO BE SUCCESSFUL STANDING UP? “You know, just the basics of it, what he’s looking at, how he gets off the ball, what his assignments are, how he fits in certain blocks, just the basics that you have for an outside backer. And when he’s got his hand down, sharpen him up on the basics as a d-end, too.”

PERCENTAGES STANDING UP VS. HAND ON THE GROUND FOR HATCHER LAST WEEK? “I think he was standing up more, but he had a good amount of snaps with his hand on the ground, too.”

AT WHAT POINT DO YOU START FLORIDA PREP AND HOW MUCH DO THESE EXTRA DAYS HELP? “We’re always trying to stay ahead of the game, so we’re preparing for Florida, but emphasizing on Kentucky. So everyday out here in at practice, we’re just worried about us and getting better.”

UNIQUE SITUATION FOR A NEW STAFF IN NEW LEAGUE TO BE PREPARING FOR A FAMILIAR OPPONENT IN FLORIDA? “You know, I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s definitely something that helps you. You’ve played them before and you’re familiar with those types of players and coaches.”

COMFORT LEVEL WITH TRAVAUGHN PASCHAL’S PROGRESS? “He’s coming along. He’s got a lot of tools. He’s got great instincts. He’s getting better every day.”

PROGRESS OF SECONDARY? “They’re playing well and they’re getting better every day and we had an emphasis on giving up deep balls and I think we only had one that we gave up there, so I think those guys are getting better every day.”

WHAT CAN YOU ATTRIBUTE TO GETTING SOME EARLY STOPS VS. LOUISVILLE? “Well, the biggest thing is just playing on edge, playing with intensity, having the guys coming out there fired up. The crowd helped. I think getting them in the right state of mind is the biggest thing.”

HAS BACKED UP GOOD STATISTICS ON THIRD DOWN AND OTHER SITUATIONS? “Yes. We’re playing well in certain situations, and we’ve got to continue to play well in those situations. I think our players understand what situations mean and how to play them, and we’re going to continue to build on them.”

IS IT A LEARNING PROCESS FOR PLAYERS TO UNDERSTAND INTENSITY? “Sometimes it’s there, you know. We’ve had spurts where it’s there, been there throughout the season. And that’s been the one thing that I’ve been harping on probably the most since I’ve been here: just playing with that intensity, playing on edge and playing that way every down.”

ARE STRUGGLED AT THE BEGINNING OF SECOND HALF ONE REASON HE WANTS TO BUILD MORE DEPTH? Everywhere I’ve been I’ve always felt like I needed more depth. So, I feel the same way here. We need to be able to play different guys, especially in different situations so that we’re playing 100 percent on edge every snap.”

DO COACHES TALK TO PLAYERS ABOUT DIFFICULTY OF UPCOMING SCHEDULE? We don’t worry about what’s ahead of us. We just worry about who we’ve got that week. So, all we harp on with the players is our opponent for that week and getting better every day and preparing for that opponent.”

DOES HE COACH INTENSITY MORE THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR AT FLORIDA STATE? I don’t know if I’m coaching it more, but I’m definitely putting an emphasis on it. So, we do what we can to have intense practices and to make sure that the players are doing not only what they can to make themselves motivated but what they can do to help other players be motivated to play that way as well.”

HOW DOES IT AFFECT DEFENSE WHEN DONTE RUMPH IS OUT:  “Well, Donte is a great player, you know. He’s one of our best defensive tackles, so when he’s not in there we may not be as stout as we are when he is in there. So that’s probably the biggest thing that we miss with him.”

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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