Stoops, Brown after Wednesday practice

MARK STOOPS
“Doing good. Good practice. Good work. Beautiful day. Guys worked hard, had a good focus about ‘em. So overall, pleased with the day. We decided to do a lot of work against each other again today and just get better. We did get ahead and work certain situations and first-, second-down versus Florida in some segments. But got some good work in.”

IF MAXWELL SMITH THREW TODAY: “I told you yesterday you weren’t going to get nothing more out of me this week. You thought you’d get me in a soft spot. No, he didn’t. No, he did not. I think everything still looks good. He says he’s feeling good. So we’ll see.”

ON NEEDING MORE TOUCHES FOR KEMP AND IF PRACTICE REPS HAVE REFLECTED THAT: “Yeah. He’s getting out there working, and our offense, as you know, with the pace and everything, they’re getting a bunch of guys shuttling in and out. So he’s doing a good job.”

ON NOT SCORING THIS SEASON IN THIRD QUARTER AND IF IT’S NOT BEING READY TO PLAY OR IS IT EXECUTION: “Probably a little bit of both. I think it’s fair to say both. We need to come out with a little stronger mindset and get some points on the board and conversely get a stop. Last week would have been big to get a stop to start the second half, and we didn’t. So I think we need to be in a little bit stronger mindset and I think we need to be executing better.”

ON IF HE’S REACHED OUT TO FRIEND AND NEBRASKA COACH BO PELINI: “Yes. Yeah. I talked to him. I reached out to him in the midst of all that. We talked, and I’d like to keep that between us, but Bo’s a good coach and a good person, and you hate to see that happen to anybody.”

ON IF DONTE RUMPH PRACTICED: “He did not go today. Again, he should be fine. He should be fine. It’s an AC joint, which gets sore. That happens to a lot of football players, getting sore. But he should be fine.”

ON IF THE DROPS HAVE CARRIED OVER INTO PRACTICE: “Saw a few. Saw a few, yeah. Seeing a few more than we had been seeing, and we need to get it corrected. But yeah, I saw a few drops in there today.”

ON NEAL BROWN SAYING JOJO KEMP HADN’T SHOWN IN PRACTICE WHAT HE SHOWED IN THE GAME: “Yeah. You know, I said it in camp, my quote during camp with him and everything, and that kind of sums it up with me. Anytime I see a guy that has that kind of fight and that kind of heart, he’s going to get out there and make some plays. It’s just a matter of brining him along and getting him some reps and getting him in there in critical situations. But I like his passion and I like his fight and I think he’s a guy that we need to get the ball to.”

ON IF THE LIGHTS CAN TAKE A WHILE TO COME ON FOR A FRESHMAN: “I think that’s fair to say. Sometimes you get out there in the stadium, and like I said, anybody that has that inside of them, though, it’s gonna come out in situations like that.”

ON CALLING OUT THE UPPERCLASSMEN TO TAKE CHARGE AND IF HE’S SEEN THEM RESPONDING: “I have. I have.  I think on the defensive side of the ball, where I spend a good majority of my time during practice, I’ve seen that. With Avery in there, we’ve had good leadership from him, being a senior. And some other guys are trying. I think Bud’s trying to be a little bit more vocal, and he’s playing well, and that helps. Za’Darius is playing well. On the offensive side of the ball, I think I do. I see (them responding). Our coaches do a great job of coaching energy and playing tough and playing fast and being excited to play. And we got to continue to do that. Our coaches mandate that, and we got to continue to push that. Our guys need, we need to have that energy.”

ON THE STREAK AGAINST FLORIDA AND IF IT ADDS MOTIVATION: “No. It doesn’t really add any extra motivation. It really doesn’t. We’re pretty motivated as it is to try to get a win.”

ON HAVING GAME-PLANNED FOR FLORIDA AND FLORIDA STATE AND IF IT’S AN ADVANTAGE: “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It is good. We didn’t play our best last year at Florida State on either side of the ball against them. They played well. But I am familiar with these guys and have a lot of respect for them and their program. And I know Will and how tough he is and how though their team’s gonna play.”

ON PLAY OF JON TOTH: “He’s coming along. He’s getting better. He really is. He’s getting better, and we think he’s gonna be a good player. He’s going through some growing pains like a lot of our guys, but he’s getting better.”

ANY PERSONAL PLANS FOR BYE WEEK? “No. We just got some work to catch up on and some recruiting. I will spend some time with the family though. Have to do that when you can, right?”

 

NEAL BROWN
IS PATRICK TOWLES GETTING MORE REPS WITH SMITH NOT THROWING? “Yeah. He’s getting the backup reps right now. He had a good day in our team period today, did a good job. A little rusty yesterday, did better today.”

ON STOOPS SAYING THEY HAVE OT GET JALEN WHITLOW TO START BETTER: “Didn’t start very well against Western. Started great against Miami, he came in had a completion first pass then second play got a touchdown. This play, he fumbled the ball on his first play, which fumbling should never happen but we had a total, total missed assignment up front on that one.”

ON NOT SCORING IN THIRD QUARTER: “We scored twice like within the first minute of the fourth though. Does that count? It’s pure lack of execution, about like all our issues. Pure lack of execution. Threw a pick on the, what, inch-yard line last week? I think in all truth we have scored like real quick in the fourth quarter in the last two games. Maybe even against Western also.”

ON GETTING MORE WORK ON THIRD-AND-SHORT AND OTHER SITUATIONS DURING BYE WEEK: The plays are fine, really. It’s just we had…On third downs we had, whether it was short or not, we had four drops, an interception and we had three critical mistakes at the point of attack up front. That’s kind of the story. That’s how you go from…That’s how you lay an egg. Good on fourth down. You all don’t want to talk about that.”

ON IF THE DROPS ARE A RESULT OF LACK OF CONCENTRATION: The whole problem was the other day — and this has been our problem when we’ve had drops — is they’re trying to run after the catch. It goes back to trying to do too much. They’ve got to do their job. It’s like I tell them all the time: We’re down by 10, there’s no 10-point play. It’s not like we can go out there and get a 10-point play. All you can do is catch the ball. Once you catch it, let’s get straight up field and see what happens. That’s the thing we’ve been…That’s what we’ve been concentrating on the most: just catching the ball before we get upfield.”

ON IF RECEIVERS ARE OVER ANXIOUS: “I think probably. Yeah, probably. We’re young, but at the same point they’ve got three games under their belt. We’re not … Who we’ve got is who we’ve got. They’ve got to start making those plays.”

ON IMPORT OF MAKING ROUTINE PLAYS: “That’s the whole deal. I think, and you all have heard me say that before, is often good offense — like during this bye week I’ve watched some of the better offenses in the country — they just consistently make routine plays. That’s what we’ve got to do. If we consistently make routine plays, last week we’re in good shape. Do we win? I don’t know. But we play a lot better.”

ON WHAT YOUNGER GUYS WE SHOULD EXPECT TO SEE PLAY MORE: “Most of them are playing. I think Jojo (Kemp) deserves more carries. Yeah, Jojo deserves more carries. Jeff Badet has done well. He probably needs to play…He will play some more snaps because he deserves it. But those are the two, and Dyshawn Mobley is going to get some opportunities also. Those are the main guys I was talking about.”

HAVE KEMP AND MOBLEY ELEVATED PLAY IN PRACTICE? “Mobley has. Yeah, Mobley has. Jojo had a good day today. Dyshawn’s had two good days. There’s always…He can smell getting on the field. He can smell the playing time. He understands what he has to work on. He has to be better in protection and things when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. He’s good with the ball in his hands. He’s got to help the team when he’s doesn’t have the ball.”

HAVE YOU RELIED THIS MUCH ON NEW GUYS AT RECEIVER: “No, probably not. But you know what? Those are our best guys, and those are the guys who are going to play. There’s going to be some growing pains. You know, for the future it’s going to be great. But week in and week out, there’s going to be some ups and some downs. Those guys are getting better. They made some mistakes, they dropped some balls on Saturday, but they’re getting better. They’re getting better as far as blocking downfield, they’re getting better as far as playing at the right speed, getting out of their breaks. All of those types of things, they’re getting better. Much, much improved from where we were a few weeks ago.”

WHAT DOES KEMP DO WELL IN GAMES THAT MAKES HIM DESERVE MORE CARRIES: Makes plays. It sounds simple, but he’s made plays with the ball in his hands. The thing that he does is, he makes quick decisions. He does not—there’s no second-guessing. He sticks his foot in the ground, he trusts his run read. He’s a natural guy, natural ability. He makes plays. And he hits the hole fast.”

WHEN HE HAS A GAME LIKE THAT, DO YOU SEE GUYS IN FRONT OF HIM ON DEPTH CHART STEP UP? “Yeah. They understand. Ray (Sanders) and (Jonathan) George, they understand. Raymond Sanders has bounced back, had a really good week of practice. There’s enough carries to go around.”

HOW HAVE QUARTERBACKS PLAYED OVERALL? You know, up and down. They’ve been about like we have on offense. You know, ups and downs. Maxwell’s got—he’s still fundamentally … when he throws a bad ball, it’s because of fundamentals. He played better than his statistics looked on Saturday. Jalen, I thought he played pretty good from midway through the third on. What he did in the fourth quarter is what I’d like to see more of. He relaxed in the pocket, and he makes plays outside the pocket. When he’s in a rhythm, he’s a good passer. When he’s in rhythm. I think Mark talked about it earlier: He got out of the pocket and made some big plays. He converted a 4th-and-14, converted on another long-distance situation with his legs. That’s what we need.”

IS THAT A MENTAL THING WITH HIM? Yeah. Some of it is, some of it’s not. Some of the stuff where he, like the one he bounced to Jojo the other day, that was just because he got his feet real wide. It’s a little bit of a combination between mental, fundamentals and then the people around him. I think all of those things are contributing factors.”

IS PART OF THAT BECAUSE HE MAYBE WANTS TO SHOW YOU HE CAN BE A GOOD PASSING QUARTERBACK? I think that’s always the tendency for guys who get labeled “dual-threat.” This is what I tell him all the time: Play to your strength. What’s your strength, the best thing that you can do? He’s a good passer and a good decision-maker and all of those things, but he can really run. He runs the ball. That’s your strength. Don’t get caught up in what people think. Play to your strength. I think Jalen’s not the only one. A lot of dual-threat quarterbacks feel like they’ve got to prove themselves as pocket passers. All they’ve got to do is play to their strength. That’s why they’re playmakers in the first place.”

ON DARYL COLLINS’ IMPROVEMENT: “Daryl Collins, he had a good practice today. He’s got to step up consistently and make more plays. Daryl’s a guy with a lot of ability that has to produce in key moments.”

ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: We did not play well in the first half, played well in the second half. If you just looked through the stat book, you can really tell that. I think we had close to 270 yards in the second half, ran the ball for well over 100 yards in the second half. Those guys settled down. Louisville moves a bunch. Those guys do a good job on defense. They’re a pain to play against. The things we practiced, we didn’t go out on the field and execute like we should have.”

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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