Stoops, Eliot discuss defense, Missouri

MARK STOOPS
“We got a lot of work to do. We got a great challenge ahead of us this week. Got off to a decent start here with a Monday and a Tuesday practice. We’re facing a very good football team, so we don’t have enough hours in the day and enough reps we can do in practice to prepare ourselves, but it was a good day overall, and looking forward to the challenge here this weekend. We got a lot of work to do. We got a great challenge ahead of us this week. Got off to a decent start here with a Monday and a Tuesday practice. We’re facing a very good football team, so we don’t have enough hours in the day and enough reps we can do in practice to prepare ourselves, but it was a good day overall, and looking forward to the challenge here this weekend.”

ON HOW DEFENSIVE BACKS HAVE RESPONDED TO WHAT’S GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE: “They’re good. They had a lot of reps today. That’s just it, with our nickel and dime packages, they’ve got to do an awful lot. And you try to be multiple within your defense, so you got to get a lot of reps and a lot of snaps. We went a good dose of good against good with the offense today, so it was a good long practice, a lot of reps, and those guys, they’re gonna get a good workout.”

ON IF THEY MATCH DEFENSIVE BACKS AGAINST TIGHT ENDS TO GET THEM USED TO THE BIG BODIES OF MIZZOU’S WRS: “No. I mean we’ve got Rashad (Cunningham) over there, which gives us a good look on scout team and we’ve got a few bigger guys. But no, we have what we have. Like I said, we did some good against good today and blitzing and seven-on, so that was good, good to see and gets a good fastball.”

ON IF IT’S STILL UNLIKELY RYAN TIMMONS WILL PLAY: “Looks unlikely. We’ll see.”

ON IF DARYL COLLINS IS IN THE MIX TO PLAY MORE: “Yeah, he is. He’s working a little bit, yeah.”

ON HOW MIZZOU’S OFFENSE IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TEAMS: “Well, I think with just facing them here for the first time, but watching them over the years and just watching a lot of film on them, I think they’re very good this year. Their line is very physical. They run the ball on everybody. And you see them really throwing guys around in the run game and creating big seams. And they have the big wide receivers and great quarterback play. You put all that together and you have an offense like we’re going to face. So they’re very good. And I think also the big difference is how they’re playing on defense this year. They’ve got a complete team.”

ON MIZZOU’S FAST STARTS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF STARTING WELL: “It’s very important. It’s hard. They come out firing. That tempo with the great execution that they’ve shown in just about all their games early, it’s hard. But we’ve got to make some stops. That’s just it. There’s no way around (it). Like I’ve said over and over, there’s no – you’ve got to go out there and make plays against a good football team.”

ON IF THE TEAM IS TAKING HIS ATTITUDE OF BEING HAPPY WITH THE WIN BUT NOT SATISFIED: “Yeah, I believe so. I think so. They know. Win or lose, we’ve got to get these things corrected. And that’s what we’re constantly trying to do, just get better as a program.”

ON IF ANY WIDE RECEIVERS ARE STEPPING UP: “Yeah. I mean, Javess (Blue) is fresh with sitting out last week. So Javess is good. Demarco’s stepping up and continuing. A.J. (Legree), like I said, I think he’s getting better and better. Those are three that are jumping out at me.”

ON HOW MUCH GRIEF HE’S GIVEN JAVESS BLUE: “Oh, little bit. He said he laughed when he heard my comment.”

ON JASON HATCHER’S HAND: “It is. It is affecting him a little bit. He’s got a big cast on there, and it’s covering up his whole hand. So it does affect him a little bit. But he did do some good things the other night, and we’ve got to try to continue to try to play him and just see how effective he is.”

ON IF THEY USE BUD DUPREE IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS BECAUSE OF HIS TALENTS OR BECAUSE THEY’RE LACKING IN OTHER AREAS: “Yeah. I think just trying to use him and feature him. He’s very talented, and he can do a lot of things. Very instinctual. And it just helps us as well.”

ON IF JALEN WHITLOW PICKED UP SOME CONFIDENCE FROM THE WIN: “Yeah.  I hope so. I think so. He seems to be rolling along pretty good. They were as sharp today going against us as I’ve seen them in a while, so that was good to see. Not so good on the defensive part, but good for their part.”

ON WHAT MAKES DYSHAWN MOBLEY SO GOOD ON SPECIAL TEAMS: “He’s got a great desire. He’s got a great desire to get down there. He’s playing with a lot of energy and a lot of toughness, and it’s great to see.”

ON NFL COACHES’ HEALTH PROBLEMS AND IF AS A COACH HE’S AWARE OF THE WORKLOAD AT THIS TIME OF THE SEASON: “Yeah, I think you do.  Everybody tries to find that balance, which is very hard. There’s no way around it. It is what it is. You try to manage it as best you can, but it is something you’re conscious of, especially when I had a father go down coaching a game. So yeah, it’s something you think about.”

ON IF HIS WIFE SEES THOSE HEADLINES AND TRIES TO GET HIM TO DRINK A FEWER CUPS OF COFFEE: “Definitely. You definitely try to manage all that.”

ON HOW MUCH COFFEE HE DRINKS IN A DAY: “I’m only a few cups. I get me a big Starbucks every morning and then I usually have about one more. That’s about it. I go to the Spark after that.”

ON HOW MANY OF THOSE HE HAS: “One Spark before practice.”

ON WHAT HE DRINKS AFTER PRACTICE: “After practice, I lay off.”

 

 

D.J. ELIOT

ON FACING A BIG GROUP OF WIDE RECEIVERS: “Yes. Got big wide outs, can run, can catch the ball well. They’ve had a successful season. It’s going to be quite a challenge for us because even when you’ve got them covered, and they’re that big, sometimes they can go up, jump over you and catch them. It’s one thing just to cover them, but now you’ve got to make a play on a guy that’s big and can really jump up and catch it.”

ON IF THEY’RE ANY DIFFERENT WITH FRANKLIN OR MAUK AT QUARTERBACK: “Offense doesn’t change. They still run the same offense. Both the quarterbacks are very good players. I look at both of those guys as guys that could be starters on just about any SEC team. Not much changes.”

ON HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE IT IS FOR HIS DEFENSIVE LINE VS. MISSOURI: “Got quite a challenge. Those guys are very, very good blockers and most of the guys who played last year are young guys and now they’ve developed into good veteran players. It’s going to be quite a challenge for our guys.”

ON IF BUD DUPREE WAS RECEPTIVE TO MOVING AROUND ON THE FIELD: “Well, Bud is such a good player that you want to try to put him at the point of attack. He’s just so dynamic. We’ve got him a base at end, was our plan so he would learn end, so he got that base underneath him. Then as our package grows, we try to use him more. Actually, Bud probably has the least amount of missed assignments on our football team. Bud is in the right spot the majority of the time, and therefore is one of our most effective players.”

ON IF IT’S SUPRISING THAT HE HAS SO FEW MISTAKES CONSIDERING WHAT THEY ASK HIM TO DO: “It’s not surprising because I think that he’s a smart player. I think he’s a very smart player, and he’s a very smart person. So I wasn’t shocked when he’s been able to be successful doing different things.”

ON HOW HE WOULD EVALUATE THE DEFENSIVE BACKS AS A WHOLE THIS SEASON: “We’ve done some good things, but you know, none of us on any position on defense have played outstanding. We’ve got a lot to get better at. We’ve got a great challenge this week against a good team to prove the improvements that we’ve made.”

ON HOW FRUSTRATING IT IS TO SEE JUST ONE INTERCEPTION THOUGH EIGHT GAMES: “Yeah, it’s tough. You’d like to see this guys finish more plays and make more interceptions. But like Coach Stoops says, we just harp on the process and hopefully the outcome will be there.”

PLAYING KHALID HENDERSON MORE: “Khalid’s played good for us. He’s been involved in our nickel packages. Some of those teams that we’ve played earlier in the year were more big sets and pro-style offenses and TraVaughn (Paschal) played more. He’s bigger and more talented for those types of offenses. Khalid is skilled more in coverage and so he’s been involved more because we’ve played these teams that have been more spread.”

IS JASON HATCHER’S INJURY AFFECTING HIS PLAYING TIME: “You know, Jason’s the same situation as TraVaughn. Jason was in our big packages, you know what I mean. He and Bud were both on the field at the same time when we were playing those pro-style offenses, now that we’ve seen more spread offenses, he and Bud rotate in together, so his reps have limited because he’s rotating with Bud.”

ANY DRILLS YOU CAN DO TO GET MORE INTERCEPTIONS? “I wish there was. We do everything we’ve always ever done, so I think that being in the right place is critical, having them covered. Not only that, it’s finishing the play. We’ve had our opportunities to catch the ball and we just haven’t done it.”

DO YOU SET WEEK-TO-WEEK GOALS FOR POINTS, ETC.? “We set week-to-week goals on where we want to be, but each game is different. You may win a game 17-10 or you may win it 45-42, so once you get the tempo of the game going and you see what the matchups like, then you’ve got to do what you can do on defense to win the game.”

IS LACK OF INTERCEPTIONS, THAT SOMEWHAT ON DEFENSIVE LINE? “Somewhat. Somewhat. Yep. We’ve gotten some good pressure lately. Last few games, we’ve got a lot of sacks and pressure so I wouldn’t put too much on them?”

ON THE DEFENSIVE BACKS, THEN? “That and the situation. We haven’t been as effective on stopping the run, so we haven’t forced as many passing plays as we’d have liked.”

WHEN YOU HAVE BIGGER RECEIVERS AND SMALLER DEFENSIVE BACKS, DO YOU DO MORE PHYSICAL STUFF TO EMPHASIZE WAYS TO KEEP FROM TURNING A SHORT PLAY INTO A LONG PLAY, ETC.? “That’s true. We’ve got to be sound on the perimeter and not only in tackling, which you’re alluding to, but also in defeating blocks on the perimeter because not only are they hard to bring down, but when they don’t have the ball in their hands, they’re very effective blockers out there on the perimeter, so we’ve been emphasizing that this week in practice.”

ON WHETHER SMALLER DBS HAVE SOME ADVANTAGES, SUCH AS LEVERAGE TO JAM BIGGER RECEIVERS AT THE LINE: “Um, you know, quickness is the key at defensive back, and so that’s the most critical thing, to have them covered and to be quick. But the size advantage will fall into place when they get into their route and the ball goes up in the air and you’ve got them covered and who goes up and catches them. The smaller guy is just going to have to make a play.”

ON NFL COACHES GOING DOWN WITH STRESS-RELATED ISSUES AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THAT/WARD IT OFF: “Well I don’t know how to ward it off, but it can take a toll on you. It’s very demanding and everybody has high standards. I think part of the problem with coaches is the pressure that we put on ourselves. We all want to win and we all want to be successful and that’s why we got in the business, the competitive nature. I think some of those guys, that stress is related to where they want to go.”

ON HOW MUCH OLDER HE FEELS NOW THAN HIS ACTUAL AGE, THANKS TO JOB STRESS: “Well, when I see guys I used to coach asking me questions, I start to feel a lot older. I don’t know. Just take it one day at a time. It’s a fun job, it really is, to coach football and be around young men and to be a part of the action. But it’s very demanding and sometimes that can take a toll on you.”

ON STOOPS, WHO LOST A COACHING FATHER, BEING AWARE OF THAT AND WHETHER HE DOES THINGS TO KEEP HIS STAFF FRESH, SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY, ETC.: “Coach Stoops is fantastic. He’s a wonderful family man. Just like you said, every Tuesday night for us is Family Night, so our families come up here and eat dinner with us before we go back to work. He does everything he can within the job to make sure that we’re spending time with them and getting the rest that we need.”

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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