Stoops, Kentucky coordinators after loss

MARK STOOPS
“I’m just a little frustrated again and just disappointed. We had our opportunities. We didn’t make enough plays when we needed to. They did. Give them credit. We started too slow again. We tried to combat that all week. We talked about it: We needed to come out strong and execute in the first half on both sides of the ball. We didn’t do that. They did. Got too far behind. We got settled in, in the second half, made some adjustments and gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game and did not. So give them credit and we’ll go back to work and get some things corrected and do what we have to do to get back on the right track.”

ON THE ONSIDE KICK: “We got (the deficit) to two, and I thought we had good momentum. We had the lob set up, and it was perfectly executed, and somebody on the back side that had absolutely nothing to do with the play was evidently four or six inches offsides. So that’s the difference. We did not do what we needed to do, and that’s disappointing.”

IS SMITH AFFECTED BY HIS SHOULDER ISSUES: “Yeah, you know, it’s a combination of things. Sure, we need to play better. Everybody needs to play better. We need to protect better. We need to get open, and he needs to throw it better. So it’s a little bit of everything. I thought early on there was a few times we were beat, had one protection issue late in the game that we got the sack on. But early there was a couple that had some pressure that affected him. But he can’t let that affect him the rest in the game. He’s got to step in there when he does have time and deliver the ball and make plays.”

ON WHITLOW COMING IN AND WHY HE DIDN’T GO MORE: “Well, we talked to him; I talked to him at half and told him that we needed him to go and needed him to step up and play with his ankle hurting. He said he was ready; he wanted to do it. So he went in and gave us a little bit. You know, it’s a fine line. He was banged up for a week and a half and didn’t get a lot of reps. His ankle was bothering him, and it hurt us. It affected us.”

ON WHITLOW PLAYING IN PAIN: “Oh, he was hurting. Yeah, he was. We asked him how he felt at felt, and he said, ‘Just OK.’ That’s what he said to Coach Brown and I went up and addressed him and asked him, told him we needed him, the team needed him to step up and play. And he said, ‘All right,’ didn’t hesitate. He was ready to go and went in there and I thought he did a nice job and did what he could.”

ON WHAT HE TAKES FROM THIS: “We need to execute better. That’s the bottom line. We had our opportunities. Our team is going to work. Our team needs to improve. We all need to do a better job, starting with me. And that’s the way it is and we’ll do that. We’re not going to hesitate. We’re going to go back to work. We’ve got to execute when the game is on the line, and we’re going to do that.”

ON THE DEFENSE VS. MSU: “It got better again as the game went on. They do a nice job; they keep you off balance. Give them credit. They kept us off balance. We didn’t do a good enough job in the first half. That’s too many yards. They converted too many yards and too many big plays. In the second half, we did a better job and were a little more aggressive and made some plays when we needed to.”

ON THE QB THROWBACK FOR A TD AGAINST THEM: “It was a well-designed play. It’s one of those things that from the sideline you could see it coming, almost in slow motion, similar to the play we had set up against Florida and didn’t execute it. They did and got it in, and it’s one of the plays that made a difference. Again, give them credit; you either execute or you don’t.”

HIS MESSAGE TO THE TEAM: “We’re going to look it dead in the face. It is what it is, and it’s not OK. We’re all going to coach better. They’re going to play better. We’re going to address these issues, and we’re going to get better and keep on fighting. That’s it, end of story.”

NEAL BROWN
ON MAX SMITH SAYING YOU REVERT BACK TO BAD HABITS: “Yeah, I think that’s probably accurate. I think we probably had some bad progressions I think as much as anything, some really bad progressions on some crucial plays. Yeah, our passing game’s gotta get better. I can talk all I want, but our passing game’s gotta be better. We’ve got to complete balls down the field and we’re not doing that. Until we do that, we’re going to struggle.”

IS IT A COMBO OF QBS OR RECEIVERS? “It’s probably a combination of everything: coaching, receivers, protection, quarterback. I think it’s never just one thing. When you’re not executing as well as you can, as well as you’d like to, there’s a lot of issues.”

SEE IN PRACTICE? “We’re running stuff in the game that we think we can execute. I really thought we had some things. We had too many drops again tonight. I don’t know what the final count was. We had some things we just didn’t do very smart. We just ran out of bounds on two plays where we should’ve gotten the first down, which wasn’t smart plays. We skipped some progressions at quarterback, which is not smart. We’ve gotta do a better job carrying over from the practice field to the game.”

ON JALEN WHITLOW SPARK. COULD HE NOT GO AGAIN? “We rolled him in there. He still didn’t feel 100 percent confident in that. He turned his ankle again on one of those runs. He practiced sparingly all week and felt like Maxwell gave us the best chance because he practiced both weeks and the preparation, we had some things we came into the game with Jalen thinking he could do if he warmed up well. And he felt like he was a little gimpy before the game and Coach Stoops talked to him and he said he could go. I thought he gave us some minutes. We got all those plays that we really worked with him in. Obviously if we convert that third down where he got tackled in the backfield, if we convert that, we were going to go again for a long series with him.”

CAN YOU RUN OFFENSE BETTER WITH WHITLOW IN? “I don’t know. We played with really good tempo in the first half. I thought we controlled the ball for a good portion of it. We only had 10 points to show from it, which was kind of disappointing coming in at half. I thought we did some things, just left some plays out there. I thought our tempo was better against good people, but in the third quarter, we had the good drive, but we didn’t — we left a couple of third downs out there.”

WHAT ABOUT RUNNING GAME, SANDERS HAD SUCCESS EARLY: “He did. He had some success early. We ran the ball OK.  I didn’t think it was a banner effort or anything. I thought we ran OK. We’ve got to win in one-on-one situations. That’s the thing that stuck out to us tonight. I felt like we had some opportunities that we could hit some big plays in the run game. Whether we came off a block, whether it was in the interior, came off a block, or our running backs got one on one and didn’t finish the play.”

RAY SAID HE THOUGHT HE WOULD RBEAK FOURTH DOWN CARRY? “I thought he had a chance. I thought he was one on one with the safety. He definitely had a chance.”

RAY SAID HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT YOUNG GUYS GETTING DISCOURAGED. HOW DO YOU KEEP THEM FROM GETTING DISCOURAGED? “Yeah, well. The young guys, they’ll be resilient. You can see, we’re very close. Sometimes we look like it. Sometimes we don’t. That’s the honest — sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. We were on the road against a quality team — they’re pretty good. They’re pretty good on defense. I was worried about them coming in. They’re long, they’re athletic. They rush the passer well. Their sacks total doesn’t show it, but they’ve got a lot of quarterback hurries and those types of things and their linebackers are really good players. Not necessarily our strengths didn’t match up with their weaknesses. But I think the young guys are going to see it on film and they’ll be better. Our older guys are the ones that have to stay the course.”

D.J. ELIOT
ON THE MOOD: “Disappointing. Had a chance to win and we didn’t. Everyone is disappointed in the loss.”

WHAT HE SAW ON THAT LAST DRIVE: “Yeah, we blitz once and they picked it up and converted in a man. And then had a zone coverage there where we won’t in the right spot and they converted that. Then on the third one we blitzed and we sacked them.”

HIS MISTAKES OR PLAYERS? “Yeah, I didn’t coach good enough. They didn’t play good enough. You’re right, it’s a balance but there’s definitely a lot I could have done better.

WHAT COULD HE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? “Sometimes you don’t make the right call. Sometimes maybe the player isn’t in the right position, maybe you didn’t work it enough in practice. The focus is what can each of us do better? There’s plenty that I can do better and there’s plenty the players can do better.”

ON MORAL VICTORIES: “We had our chances to win tonight and it would have been nice if we could have converted that.”

ON THIRD AND LONGS:  “I think we played the run well. We mixed it up a lot but I think we played the run well and that helped us.”

ON NOT STOPPING MSU OR JUST NOT EXECUTIING:

“A little bit of both. We had them third and six on that first drive. We had him sacked and he got out and once he got out bad things happened. People come out of coverage, some people think he pulled it down, some of the guys think he didn’t and he we came out of coverage and he converted for a long touchdown.”

HOW DEFENSE RESPONDED AFTER THAT PLAY: “The first quarter we played terrible at times. Then the second half we came out and had some good stops but still wasn’t good enough.”

MOVING FORWARD: “I can’t fault anybody’s attitude. I think everybody has a good attitude and everybody goes to work everyday and tries to get better. We had our chances to win today but didn’t play good enough to do it, didn’t coach good enough and we gotta work on it.”

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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