Stoops, Brown after Wednesday practice

MARK STOOPS
“Overall, good day. I thought both sides of the ball had a good practice. Guys got some good energy this week, good focus to them. So overall, pleased with the effort in today’s practice.”

ON HOW MAXWELL SMITH PRACTICED: “He threw good. He really did. Seems to be fine. He really does. Yesterday he had a good day. Today was a good day. We did keep a pitch count on him again today, but seems to be no effects. Seems to be fine.”

HOW DEMARCO ROBINSON IS DOING: “He’s doing good, yeah. He’s doing good.”

ON IF THE OFFENSE, LIKE THE DEFENSE IS ALWAYS COMING UP WITH NEW WRINKLES: “Yeah, they do. They always tweak how they’re tagging things and how they’re gonna to run things week to week and change things up, and yes, there’ll be some new wrinkles.”

ON IF SMITH LOOKING GOOD MEANS HE’S STARTING: “No. Doesn’t mean that. We haven’t decided yet. No. We really haven’t. Both guys have been getting equal reps this week, because of the pitch count and everything else with what we’re doing. So they’ve been equal.”

IF DEMARCO ROBINSON WILL BE BACK ON PUNT RETURNS: “We’re gonna talk about that. He was back there today doing kick returns and punt returns, yes, he was. But you know we’re pretty thin at that position, so we’re going to evaluate the punt return and kick returns as we go here. But he was getting back there getting some work, yes.”

ON TALKING TO THE TEAM ABOUT “ALL PLAYERS UNITED” PROTEST: “We haven’t done that yet.”

ON HIS FEELINGS ABOUT COLLEGE PLAYERS HAVING A CHANCE TO MAKE MONEY OFF THEIR LIKENESS: “I think, like I said before, without putting a whole lot of thought into it right now, so busy in season and everything, of course I would be in favor of giving the players money. I think it’s a very complex issue. I think it’s a lot harder to do than just say, ‘Do that,’ with the amateurism and the whole deal. Of course I’d like to give them money, but I know it really doesn’t matter what I think. And I think there’s a lot of issues involved in getting that done. So I think people that act like it’s no big deal and act like it’s just as easy as giving them some money I think are living in a different world. It’s not that easy.”

DOES HE THINK IT GETS PEOPLE’S ATTENTION WHEN PLAYERS BEGIN TO SPEAK UP THIS WAY? “I do. Yep.”

HAS JOJO KEMP RESPONDED IN PRACTICE TO BEING NAMED CO-NO. 1 RUNNING BACK? “Yeah. He’s had a good week. When we’ve gone up against the offense, the defense has gone good against good, he’s had some good runs and (he’s) playing hard and having some energy. It’s always good. You know I’m a big fan of Jojo, and I love Raymond, too. I want Raymond to continue to play well.”

WHEN HE WAS AT FLORIDA STATE DID HE RECRUIT CB VERNON HARGREAVES? “Yeah. I did. We did recruit Hargreaves, and I’ve known the family for a long time. I worked with Vernon at Miami, so I knew Vernon Jr. since he was a young boy. Tremendous family and an unbelievable person and a great player. So he’s the whole package, and he’s going to be a special player.”

COULD HE BE A TYRANN MATHIEU TYPE PLAYER: “I think he’s going to be his own guy. I think you’re going to be just strictly talking about him, not comparing him to anybody. I think he’s just that kind of talent, and he’s that kind of quality person.”

IS IT SAFE TO ASSUME ASHELY LOWERY WILL PLAY THROUGH THE YEAR UNTIL THERE’S MOVEMENT ON HIS CASE: “Yeah. Until I know, until we get more information on that situation – whether it be a trial, a set trial date, anything – I have no information. Very little information. So until he has a chance to go an get some more information, I’m going to stay status quo.”

ON JAVESS BLUE: “Javess has done a very good job. As we talked about many times, missing all summer missing spring ball and missing most of the summer, to come in here and be able to pick it up and make plays like he has done, it’s been very impressive. I think when you get here late and you go through all that training camp and you get into the start of the season, they’re at a different pace than the rest of our team as far as training and conditioning and all those things. I think right now, he’s starting to really feel comfortable, and hopefully we’ll see the results on the field, we’ll see him play even better and better.”

WHAT’S STOOD OUT IN THAT PROCESS? “I just think he’s been able to pick things up very quickly, and he’s a very natural player. Just what you want. People underestimate instincts and the ability to make subtle changes and play the game how it’s supposed to be played. So I feel very good about Javess.”

A TOUGH WEEK TO SAY THEY’LL LEAN MORE ON A FRESHMAN RUNNING BACK? “No. (Laughs) Yeah. Yeah, it is. But that’s all right. Jojo’s not worried about that. He’s ready to go play. We have a lot of respect for that defense and how hard they play, and Jojo’s a Florida kid, like you know, so he’ll be excited to go play.”

IF FLORIDA IS A GOOD MEASURING STICK FOR OFFENSIVE LINE: “Yeah, I think so. It’s going to be a fun challenge, the first SEC game. Let’s see where we’re at.”

IS IT GOOD THAT YOUNG PLAYERS DON’T WORRY SO MUCH ABOUT MAKING MISTAKES, FAILING? “It is a good thing. They’re not worried about the previous 25, 26 games (in the streak). They’re not worried about last year. They don’t know anything about it. They’re just worried about coming out here and playing this week.”

ON MAX SMITH’S ‘PITCH COUNT’: “We just talked about it again. Because we’re rotating them, it wasn’t an issue. So it’s not that limited, to be honest with you. We talked about it. He could have gone the whole time. He probably did as much as Neal (Brown) wanted him to today, let’s put it that way, because we’re rotating them.”

NEAL BROWN
“We’ve had two really good days of work, Tuesday and Wednesday. A little rusty on Monday coming off a little break, but guys are fresh and we’re getting better. Young guys are starting some progress. I’m pleased with how they’ve worked the last few days.”

ON HOW MAXWELL SMITH HAS THROWN THIS WEEK: Yeah, he’s thrown the ball well. I think the week down did him well. No signs, no signs of the injury to me. Yesterday he was almost perfect in yesterday’s practice. He had one drop.”

HOW CLOSE IS DEMARCO ROBINSON IS TO 100 PERCENT? “Out here in practice, he’s not 100 percent right now, but I think by Saturday he will. Also, the adrenaline on game day helps out those, too.”

ON HOW MUCH IT HELPS TO HAVE A VERTERAN AT RECEIVER IN ROBINSON: Yeah, it helps. Well, it helps just because he’s one of our better players. He’s good in the return game. He helps us. He gives us another guy to play. Jeff Badet is coming along at that position. I like him. He’s made some big plays when the ball’s got in his hands, but Demarco gives us more depth. And he does have some experience, and he did play well in that Western game.”

ON HOW THEY RUN THE BALL AGAINST NO. 1 RUSH DEEFENSE IN THE COUNTRY: “That’s a great question. It’s going to be a challenge. Here’s the deal, I’ve know Will (Muschamp) for a while. His defenses look the same year in and year out. They’re aggressive, they’re fundamentally sound and they fly to the football. They’re really good. I can describe on a bunch of different ways, but they’re as good or better than anybody in the country. Like I said, I’ve known Will for awhile. Travaris Robinson, their DB coach, he and I worked together at Texas Tech for a year, so I’ve got a lot of respect for him. They’re talented not only up front, but in the back end. They’ve got a lot of guys that I’d like to have they’re pay checks one day.”

ON WHETHER HE HESITATES AT ALL TO HAVE THIS WEEK BE THE ONE THEY LEAN MORE ON TRUE FRESHMAN RB JOJO KEMP, AGAINST THE NO. 1 RUN DEFENSE: “Well, not really. What we try to do, we just approach it looking at ourselves every week. And Ray (Sanders) really hasn’t done anything wrong, but Jojo has been explosive when he’s gotten the ball in his hands. So regardless of who we were playing this week, he was going to get some more opportunities.”

ON WHAT STICKS OUT ABOUT UK’S THIRD-DOWN ISSUES: “It’s not very good (laughing). A lot of things. We haven’t executed as well on third down as we’d like. And there’s a few play calls that I’d like to have back on third down as well. But I really believe in how we practice those situations. I’ve gone back and I’m aware that we haven’t been very good; I’m aware of where we’re at statistically. So during that bye week, I went back and evaluated everything statistically. We were not very good, I think, in ’08 at Troy on third downs, and I really spent a whole offseason kind of studying third downs – how to practice them, how to prepare for them, what to emphasize with the kids. And we came back and, last year at (Texas) Tech, I wanna say we finished 10th but we were in the top two or three (nationally) for most of the year. So I feel good about our preparation. We’ve just gotta execute better. I gotta put our kids in better situations and we’ve gotta execute better on those critical downs.”

ON WHETHER THE BYE WEEK GIVES HIM A CHANCE TO ADD MORE WRINKLES: “To a certain extent. We’re going to run our base plays, especially (because) we’re kind of at the infancy of this deal. But you always add wrinkles week to week, so we’ll definitely have some different things in this week that we haven’t shown.”

ON FLORIDA’S SECONDARY: “We’ve gotta be really detailed, and we’ve got to play with great pad level. We’ve gotta try to get their hands off of us all the time. It’s going to be a great challenge for our young guys. Louisville’s secondary is good also, so this isn’t the first time we’re going to go against somebody that can play.”

RED ZONE SCORING PERCENTAGES ARE DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY FROM PAST STOPS. IS THAT AN EXECUTION ISSUE? “We’ve just got to get better. We can throw out a lot of stats that are down from where we were, but we’ve got to get better, you know what I mean. Through three games, there’s some things we’ve done well. There’s obviously some things we haven’t done well. I just want to see steady improvement. Obviously, we’ve got our hands full this week. They’re really good. I think all y’all have watched them; they’re really good. We just need to get a steady improvement.”

GOOD MEASURING STICK FOR THE OFFENSIVE LINE? “Yeah. It’ll be a measuring stick for sure. Florida, what’s different about them is they’re so deep up front. You know, there’s a ton of guys, regardless if (Dominique) Easley plays or not and I think Easley is as good as there is in our conference. They’ve got, they can, just run ‘em in. They’ve done a great job recruiting at that spot, so it will be. It will be a good measuring stick. From here on out, we’re going to see good linemen, d-linemen.”

WILL YOU PICK A STARTER OR WILL IT BE LIKE THE WESTERN KENTUCKY GAME WHERE WE DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL HE WENT OUT THERE? “Probably like the Western game. But they’ll play better.”

DO YOU KNOW, WHETHER YOU’LL TELL US OR NOT, BUT DO YOU KNOW? “I do have an idea. I just really want to get through … I want to watch this practice and get through tomorrow and kind of make a call on it.”

ANY MORE STRATEGIES TO GET JALEN WHITLOW STARTED FASTER? “He’s just got to relax. That’s as big as anything. He started. We’ve played three games. He hasn’t started well twice. He started real well once. So, if we keep going in that order, he’s up to start well, right?”

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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