Mark Stoops, Neal Brown talk to ‘boring’ media

“All right. Good energy for a Wednesday practice and our preparation here for Alabama State. I like the team’s attitude and their work ethic, and again a pretty good, physical day, and I liked the energy. I think we got better again today, so hopefully we’ll keep on improving. We all know we need a lot of improvement, so another day in the books.”

ON HOW REESE PHILLIPS LOOKED: “Reese looked good, from what I saw. Looked good. Got some reps. He’s good. He’s good and comfortable. Seems like he’s got one of those personalities where he doesn’t get too worked up about anything. Of course, that’s easier said than done on the practice field, right? With quarterbacks, you never really know until you get them out there in game situations and see how it goes and all that. So we’ll see, but I like the way he’s gone about his business.”

ON IF THEY’D LIKE TO GET PHILLIPS SOME SNAPS EVEN IF SMITH IS THE BACKUP IN THIS GAME: “I think in a perfect world we’d keep our quarterbacks healthy and whoever was in there would be running the offense efficiently. And in this case, Jalen starting the game, it would be really nice to have him start a game and finish a game unless we decide to take him out for good reasons. So that would be nice to happen, and then we could just sit on it, keep on working with Reese and keep his redshirt year. If something happens early, then we got a decision to make.”

ON IF THERE’S ANY WAY TO SIMULATE THE CRITICAL GAME SITUATIONS IN WHICH HE SAYS UK NEED TO MAKE PLAYS: “Just constantly putting them in those situations. Third downs, for instance. We all know we need to improve in those areas. Just keep on working our third downs and different pressures and offensively execute in third downs – third and short, third and medium, third and long. We need help in all of them. I think that’s a big deal, just execution on those downs and getting as much different looks as we can, as much pressure on as we can in practice.”

ANY MORE QUESTIONS? “You guys are really boring today.”

“We’ve had two good days, looking forward to this week, bouncing back after a tough one that I think we all felt like we left a lot of plays out there and excited about homecoming, playing in the stadium again. Maybe the weather will cooperate. Some of y’all talk to your weathermen.”

HOW’S REESE PHILLIPS LOOKING? “He’s looking good. We’ve gotten him a decent amount of work the last couple of weeks. Ideally, I think we’d like to keep the red shirt on him this late, but I think we’re mentally getting him ready and we’re getting him enough reps where if he needs to play, he’ll be ready.”

WHAT’S THE RATIO OF REPS? “Jalen’s getting all the starter reps. He’ll start the game and hopefully finish it and be healthy and all those type of things. And Maxwell (Smith) and Reese are splitting those two reps.”

SCREENS WORKING AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE EARLY, NOT LATE: “We ran some screens in the second half, but they came down and started playing us a little tighter in the second half than they did the first half. We had a couple of drops on those screens, too, which was disappointing. But that’s kind of the reason we got away from it.”

ON CHALLENGING JALEN WHITLOW TO BE TOUGHER. HAS HE RESPONDED TO THAT IN PRACTICE? “Yeah. Yeah, he has. He’s beat up, but the deal is this late in the season, most people that are playing college football are beat up, regardless of positions and quarterback’s probably — their wear and tear through the week is a lot less — I always tell them they’ve got the easiest job Sunday through Friday and the hardest job on Saturdays. I think he’s accepted the challenge. He’s got a little bit of a sore ankle, a little bit of a sore shoulder, neither one of them anything major. But he’s been out here everyday, hasn’t missed any time, so I think he has responded.”

ON ALABAMA STATE’S BLITZ: “Well, I think if you look at them. I think we played them at Troy in 2006 and know quite a bit about them. We shared the same media market with them down there and when I was at Troy, Alabama State being in Montgomery. What strikes me when I watch these guys is they’re really athletic, they’ve got some Division I transfers. And they’re well coached. They get lined, they’re really sound. I think they’re going to come in here and play with a lot of confidence. They’ve won, what? Six games in a row. I think they’ve only given up nine points the last two weeks. The thing that I told our guys that they have to be aware of is maybe some of our guys who aren’t from the south don’t understand, but playing in our atmosphere isn’t going to be anything new for them. They play in a couple classic games a year, where I think last week at Legion Field, they had over 60,000. They play in front of a lot of people and on TV quite a bit. That’s not going to be anything quite new. They will zero blitz probably more than a lot of people we play, so we’ve got to be prepared for that. The quarterbacks have got to be ready to get the ball out of their hands.”

HOW MUCH ON YOUR SIDE OF THE BALL DO YTHESE PLAYERS NEED TO EXPERIENCE SOME SUCCESS?  “You know, I think we’ve had bits and pieces of success along the way. We just haven’t been able to sustain it. That’s the thing that’s been frustrating is, we’ve done some really good things. Even in that game the other night, we did some really good things. We just haven’t been able to consistently do things and execute the way we need to execute. But I think, I really believe this: They can see the positives, you know what I mean? They can see the positives. I don’t think we’re dealing with a group—and part of it is because we’re playing so many young people—but I don’t think we’re dealing with a group that really has low self-esteem at some point.”

WOULD IT BE NICE JUST TO GET A WIN, REWARD THEM FOR THE WORK THEY’RE DOING ? “Yeah, no question. For them, for us. For me. Y’all would rather cover a win, too, wouldn’t you? We need to win a game, there’s no question. We need to win a game. I think that’s why everybody’s in this business, why the kids are here and why we’re coaching is to win games. We’ve gone through a stretch here where we haven’t.”

IS RUNNING BACKS MAKING TACKLERS MISS. IS THAT A COACHABLE THING? “I think it’s a natural thing to a certain point. Now what you can really coach them on is putting your body in the correct position to make that cut. What happened to us is, I think we had five situations, one-on-ones where not only did we not make the guy miss, but we got tackled right at the point of contact. I think what you can — I don’t think, I know — what you coach is to get your body and your feet in the correct position. Ray, on a couple of those, just kind of slipped. His feet were outside the framework of his body, and he wasn’t in a good position. I think you coach that, but it’s definitely some natural ability as well.”

ON A ZERO BLITZ ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT A JAILBREAK OR SOMETHING? Well, they’re going to bring six or seven quite a bit, probably more so than what we’ve seen.”

ON GETTING THE BALL TO JORDAN AUMILLER: “No, he’s just been open. I think he’s played pretty well. I don’t think he played as well on last Thursday as he’s played in other games this year, but I think he’s been consistent. He’s done a great job blocking, and I like to reward those guys that are doing a good job not only on the perimeter, but down on the line of scrimmage. He’s played well, and he just hasn’t been open on some of those balls.”

ON IF HE’S EVER USED ANOTHER TEAM’S SUCCESS ON OFFENSE LIKE THE MISS STATE THROW TO THE QUARTERBACK AS AN EXAMPLE OF PLAYS FOR HIS TEAM? Well, I think what we do is we spend a lot of time — not a lot of time, more so in the spring and preseason — showing guys that are running our offense. Whether it was our film from Texas Tech, whether it’s Texas Tech now under Kliff (Kingsbury), whether it’s Oklahoma State, West Virginia, those type of schools that are running our type of offense. We show them clips of those guys. Listen, here’s how there doing it. This is why they’re playing at a high level, this is why they’re doing that. I think visually sometimes it helps more than me telling them over and over again.”

ON HOW HE THINKS THE FULLBACKS HAVE PLAY IN SOME EXTENDED ACTION: Yeah, they’re doing well. I’m pleased with Cody Jones. He’s getting every ounce of…He’s giving everything. There’s nobody it’s more important to than him, I can promise you that. He’s giving us everything he has. He’s being really physical. I think we’re playing quite a bit in 20 personnel with that fullback in there, and it gives us some versatility where we can move from 20 personnel, we can get back in our bone set, which is three backs, and then get in and put our tight end down and get 21 personnel. So they’re doing some good things. They’re earning that playing time.”

ON IF HE’S PLAYING THE FULLBACK MORE THAN HE’S USED TO: Oh yeah. Yeah, it is. It is. Here’s what it comes down to: we’re different. Obviously, we’re not as productive as I’d like to be. But, we’re a little bit different. There’s some things that we’re doing a pretty good job of, there’s some things that we’ve got to obviously improve quite a bit. Our product doesn’t look exactly like I’d envisioned it or like I see it in my head, but I think we’re getting a little closer. I think we’ve got to get more consistent quarterback play. I think that’s probably at the top of the list. I think we’ve got to be more consistent and more productive at the quarterback position, but we’re going to get there. I feel good about the class we’re recruiting. You know, I’m encouraged every time I turn on — talking about Texas Tech and watching those guys play — those are guys they … I think our first recruiting class is in their third year there, and those skills guys at Tech are as good as anybody out there. And those guys are doing a good job coaching them also. But there’s a lot of positives. We just got to keep moving.”

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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2 Responses to Mark Stoops, Neal Brown talk to ‘boring’ media

  1. Pingback: A Pelican as a mascot and late night links | John Clay's Sidelines

  2. Tom says:

    A win is a win. Win this and we’ll be only four more wins from a bowl.
    Lose this one and we’ll be the worst Kentucky football team in history. If we could only play Miami of Ohio 12 times a year, we’d be, well, just where we are right now. Who needs he SEC beatings to be a below average football team. Psst, DON”T play WKU anymore.
    Jen, if you get a chance ask Stoops if its different playing with Joker’s recruits than what he dealt with Mickey Andrews left him at Florida Statte. Ask the same of Brown dealing with Joker’s recruits than what was left by Mike Leach.