Stoops teleconference transcript

MARK STOOPS
OPENING REMARKS: “Looking forward to the open date to improve in a lot of areas. I thought we did improve in certain phases of the game versus Louisville. I was proud of the fact that we came out strong defensively and had four straight three-and-outs to start the game. I thought that was an improvement. We need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball, but looking forward to the open week to improve and get ready for Florida.”

ON MAX SMITH’S LATEST SHOULDER ISSUE NOT BEING IN THE SAME AREA AS HIS PREVIOUS INJURIES: “Yeah, it’s my understanding that it’s not the exact same area as it was in the summer. I believe somebody had asked me earlier in the week if I was concerned because he had some issues in the past with hurting his arm strength and so on and so forth throughout the summer. But it’s my understanding that it’s a different part of the shoulder, and that this shouldn’t have any effect on what has previously been hurt. So we’ll see how he progresses. He seems to be feeling good. He can throw the ball very lightly right now and has full range, so we’ll see how he goes throughout the week.”

ON WHETHER CODY QUINN’S RETURN AND STRONG PLAY SATURDAY SHAKES UP THE STARTERS, WHETHER IT COULD BE HIM AND NATE WILLIS INSTEAD OF WILLIS/FRED TILLER: “It could. It could. Basically we feel confident with all three of those guys right now with Fred and with Nate as well. Cody came in and did some very good things. It’s good to have him back. He was in the game on quite a few of the third downs. We have had some success and did a good job at times in the Louisville game on third down, particularly third-and-long. And he was in there as part of our dime package, so it gives us some more versatility. It’s good to have him back. He did do some good things. We’ll see who starts the game, but basically all three of those guys will be getting some playing time.”

ON WHAT JALEN WHITLOW, SO FAR AN ERRATIC PASSER, NEEDS TO DO TO PLAY BETTER: “Well, he needs to settle down. And we’ve gotta get him started faster. He’s been shaky at times to start the game. Once he settles in, he does some very good things. But we need him to just play more natural. He is an athlete. There’s times, you saw the game on Saturday when he had an opportunity to use his legs and do some things and he kind of – he threw the interception on an opportunity I thought he had to run the ball. So we need to use his athleticism at times as well. When he can run, he needs to run.

“And then he needs to settle down in the pocket and distribute the football. He’s been a little bit erratic. We need to get him more consistent, that’s for sure. I think you do see times when he’s sitting back there and he throws the ball extremely well, so he’s just gotta be more consistent. And we’ve gotta be more consistent around him. It doesn’t go very well when we have open receivers and our quarterbacks miss them, and then the next time maybe the receiver drops the ball. So there’s a lot of drive-killers out there. We’ve just gotta be more consistent as a team.”

ON WHETHER THE PLAN IS TO REDSHIRT FRESHMAN QB REESE PHILLIPS: “We would like to redshirt Reese if we could. We’ve been very happy with him. He’s done some very good things throughout the summer camp. He’s been very good. Depending on what happens with Maxwell, if Max comes back healthy and progresses like we think he will with that shoulder and doesn’t have any setbacks, then we’ll probably proceed with Max and with Jalen. If Max or Jalen, if one of those guys goes down, then it’s between Patrick and Reese to see who would be the backup quarterback at that time. Both of them have done some good things, so we’re very high on Reese. But to answer your question, we’d like to redshirt him if we can.”

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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