Kentucky’s Stoops, Brown preview Missouri

MARK STOOPS
“Sloppy day out there. Messy day. So it was good to get some sloppy ball out there, so it was good to get some wet ball, some work in the rain. Got our work done and feel good about where we’re at and our preparations and just moving forward.”

HAS HE SEEN MORE WIDE RECEIVERS STEP UP? “I think we’re getting better. I thought Jalen had a very good day yesterday and seemed to have a good day today. Javess is fresh. He looked good. Demarco, Badet – all those guys are getting better. We need to use our tight ends a little bit more and get them some balls. We’ll be all right.”

WHY MISSOURI IS SO GOOD AT INTERCEPTING PASSES: “I think, I said that earlier in the week, I think they’re a very aggressive defense. They’re very disruptive up front. Any time you’re getting a bunch of interceptions, it has a lot to do with the whole-team defense, and I think they’re very disruptive. They’re aggressive. And they score a boatload of points. So when (they’re) scoring a boatload of points and you’re playing from behind, you’ve got to take more risks and throw the ball up, and (they) get more opportunities.”

ON MISSOURI ALSO BEING A SPREAD TEAM AND A PHYSICAL TEAM: “If you watch them, all year they’ve blocked the heck out of everybody they’ve played. And that’s why they’re so balanced and they’re running the ball very efficiently. You put that combination together with the great receiving corps and the quarterbacks and it’s a long day. It’s no mystery why they’re scoring so many points and getting so many yards. It starts up front. I think we’ll have a great challenge ahead of us, but I think we’ll be up to the task. We’ve been playing better, and hopefully we’ll continue to do that.”

ON IF THEY COULD RUN THE BALL MORE GIVEN THE LACK OF DEPTH AT RECEIVER: “Well, I think if you’ve watched us, we’ve tried to be balanced all year, because we have to. We’re just not skilled enough to just go out there and drop back and throw it around all day. We’re just not at that point. So we have to try to stay balanced. So we need to continue to do that.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT FALLING BEHIND SO THEY AREN’T FORCED OUT OF A RUN/PASS BALANCE: “I think it’s very important. Yeah, it is.”

ON ESPN HIGHLIGHTING MISSOURI’S LEFT TACKLE JUSTIN BRITT AND WHAT HE SEES IN HIM: “Yeah, he’s good, and I like their inside guys too. I thought there was some – just as we watch all the tape – there’s some pressures and different things that they pick up outside of the run game. I think they’re very good. You can tell they’re very well-coached and they have some experience.”

ON IF YOU TRY TO FOCUS ON STOPPING EITHER THE RUN OR THE PASS AGAINST A BALANCED OFFENSE: “No. I mean, we have to be good. They can wear you out in one or the other. So if you just want to play a pass defense all day, they can run it at will and vice versa, if you just want to be aggressive all day, with those wideouts and the skill that they have and the talent at quarterback, they could hurt you up top in a real hurry as well. So I think we have to show some patience and just do what we always try to do, and that’s basically get off the field as quick as we can. But we got to mix it up.”

ON WHERE D.J. ELIOT IS ON THE GROWTH CURVE IN HIS FIRST YEAR AS A DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: “You know, really starting to feel very comfortable with everything that he’s doing. He’s always had the smarts for it and knows what I want, and we’ve worked together with everything. He’s getting to the point now where he’s starting to see all the issues and things that come up, and that’s just experience. That’s why they pay for experience, right? We’ve all been torched one way or another in different ways and had some success one way or another, so there’s good and bad in everything. But he’s doing a very good job and working extremely hard, and he’s getting very comfortable with everything.”

ON IF HE COULD HAVE BEEN AS HANDS ON WITH A COORDINATOR HE DIDN’T KNOW AS WELL: “I think I would. I would have no problem doing that if I didn’t know them at all, because with my background it just makes sense to help on that side of the ball as much as we can. But it certainly makes it a lot easier, yeah.”

ON IF THERE COMES A TIME WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF STUFF TO DO ON SPECIAL TEAMS TO CATCH TEAMS OFF GUARD: “Well, I don’t think you run out of stuff to do, but I think teams are being much more cautious and therefore you got to watch taking all your shots. It’s just like I said in some other games, we had some things called and they jump out into a safe look and took it away. That can help you in some areas, but certainly they could catch you. If you try to run some sort of fake or a trick play, they could catch you and it could hurt you.”

ON IF HE MAKES THOSE CALLS OR IF BRADLEY DALE PEVETO DOES: “He and I work together on that. He talked me into a couple of them.”

ON PEVETO SAYING HE’S COMFORTABLE WITH ALL THOSE THINGS: “I am, as long as – you know, some of that stuff isn’t as low-percentage as you might think. So if we feel that something’s there and there’s a different percentage of converting it, then I’m all for it.”

ON IF HE HAS A CHART IN HIS HEAD OF PERCENTAGES: “Yeah, and I think you go into it and you kind of see where that game’s at, too, and what you think you’re gonna need to do to maybe possibly spark you, getting to score some points and get an extra possession or things like that.”

ON SPECIAL TEAMS BEING LIKE OFFENSE AND DEFENSE IN THAT YOU SEE IN SCOUTING THE WAY TEAMS LINE UP AND WAYS TO BEAT THEM: “Right. Exactly. You’re always looking for that, and that’s what we really try to do on all sides of the ball is make people be very sound at what they’re doing. So yes, we look at all those plays and everything. And momentum comes into it and things like that. It may be slipping away from you and you need to get it back. Or maybe you have all of it and want to go for the throat and try something. But we’ll continue to look at all options. Like I said, we’re just trying to win games, and anything we can do to help us.”

ON IF HE’S SURPRISED WITH THEIR SPECIAL TEAMS EXECUTION: “I’ve been very pleased. I have been. It tells me a lot about a team. That’s kind of the heart of your team. There’s a lot of guys on there that are really doing a good job and being very unselfish, and I think Coach Peveto’s done a great job of coaching them up.”

 

NEAL BROWN

WHEN JALEN WHITLOW’S A LITTLE OFF ON HIS THROWS, IS THAT A TECHNIQUE THING OR WHAT’S THE CAUSE?

I think he rushes. I think he rushes, and his base gets real narrow. That’s—in my opinion, that’s what causes it. The one on the wheel route up the sideline the other day, he just got real anxious and rushed the throw because the guy was so open. He knew he was going to get the touchdown. And then on some of those other—like on the one to Timmons where he got hurt, the one to the back out of the flat, he just gets his base real narrow.

IS THAT AN EXPERIENCE THING? “No, I think it’s just—he’s got to train his mind to really focus on it all the time. I think it’s … I don’t know if experience is the right word. I think it may be a lack of reps, you know what I mean? He needs repetitions where he was hurt a little bit and where he had to split some time when we were trying on doing the quarterback competition, I think that’s part of it.”

WITH ALEX MONTGOMERY AND RYAN TIMMONS DOWN, OTHER THAN JAVESS BLUE, WHO DO YOU COUNT ON? I think Demarco Robinson is a guy that’s finally healthy, and we need him to step up and make some plays. We need A.J. Legree to step up. Some of the guys that have been here, they’ve got to step up and produce.”

HOW DID YOU GRADE WHITLOW’S SECOND-HALF PERFORMANCE? I thought, you know, I really felt a lot better about Jalen’s performance after watching the film than I probably did when I talked to you all right after the game, because—I don’t try to be a pessimist, but right after the game I think what was sticking out to me were the four or five really bad throws he had, and not the 10-, 12-plus really good throws he had. So I was really encouraged after watching the film, because he threw the ball well, especially downfield which is something he hadn’t done a whole lot of. In the game, he threw the ball downfield well. Some of those underneath throws, we can get that fixed. I think, like I was telling John (Clay), I think it’s technique.”

AND YOUR RECEIVERS ARE ABLE TO PLAY MULTIPLE POSITIONS WITHIN THAT GROUP? NOW THAT TIMMONS IS OUT AND YOU’RE LOOKING AT COLLINS AND SHIELDS CAN SOMEONE LIKE BADET MOVE TO THAT SPOT OR ARE THEY SET? No. I think we’ve cross-trained some guys. I try to not cross-train some of those freshmen. Like Badet, we’ll leave him where he’s at just because he’s got a ton of reps. I don’t think it’s fair to him in a week’s time to try to get him ready. Some of those other guys like Demarco, for example, and Ronnie and Anthony Kendrick, those guys that have some experience and have some good football knowledge, I don’t mind moving those guys around.”

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF RUNNING THE BALL MORE? “We’ll probably be about what we’ve been. I don’t know. John (Clay), what’ve we been? 55? 60? No, I think we’ll be about where we’ve been.”

ON THE ‘Y’ RECEIVER POSITION? “We’ll use (Anthony) Kendrick there some and (Steven) Borden to pick up a little bit of the slack from where Alex was playing.”

WHAT HAVE YOU NEEDED TO SEE FROM DARYL COLLINS AND A.J. LEGREE? “Legree’s picking it up. I really do. He made a great play in the game on Saturday night. He took the ball, really took it away from the Alabama State defender. He’s practicing a lot better. His confidence really grew on how he performed on special teams. He’s really done some nice things for us on special teams and gained some confidence and he’s brought that to offense. And Collins, he just hasn’t been productive with the snaps he’s had earlier in the year. He’s obviously, he’s got increased reps this week and if he continue to produce — I thought he had a pretty good day yesterday, we’ll see after I watch the film of today’s practice — then he’ll get in there and have a chance to play on Saturday.”

DID HE SURPRISE YOU HE HASN’T DONE MORE? “I think he’s got some skills. He’s got some skills. He’s got to be focused every day. He’s got to take advantage of opportunities, but I definitely think he’s got some skills. I think he runs pretty well. He’s a solid built kid. I think there’s no reason why he can’t help us.”

MOST IMPRESSIVE PART OF MISSOURI DEFENSE? “I think Steck (Dave Steckel), their defensive coordinator, does a really good job. We played him twice at Texas Tech. We had two really great games. They beat us once in a game where Stack was actually the head coach, they threw a pick with less than 10 seconds to go inside the 5. So we had two really competitive games against those guys. I think when you talk about Missouri, everybody thinks about their offense because they’ve been so good going back to Chase Daniels. And they still are. I’m aware they’re very good on offense and that goes into my train of thought as I get our game plan together, too. But they’ve been very good on defense, too. They’ve had as many good defensive linemen in the last 5-7 years as anybody in the country. They’ve been — I mean, you talk about Alton Smith, they’ve had a bunch of guys — and the first thing that jumps off the film when you’re watching Missouri is their defensive line. They go two or three deep at each position. They can really run. They have the fastest D-line that we’ve played and they play super hard and they chase the ball probably better than anybody we’ve played and their Mike linebacker, 48, his name’s escaping me right now (Andrew Wilson), he gets a lot of tackles. Those inside guys do a good job of keeping the linemen off him and he does a good job making tackles. The secondary guys, a lot of them are the same that we played against, I think, last time we went up there in 2011 when I was at (Texas) Tech. They’ve gotten a lot better. The (E. J.) Gaines kid is back, and he gives them…He plays with a lot of confidence, and he’s a physical player out there at corner.

ON IF HE FEELS MORE PREPARED DUE TO HIS FAMILIARITY WITH MISSOURI FROM BIG 12 DAYS? “Yeah, I think…There was some familiarity there, but I mean, a lot of these guys we’ve played, sometimes it doesn’t look like it but I’ve played against several of these guys before. But there is some familiarity there, but they’re also, they’re doing some different things somedays because I think because of their depth up front. They’re so much deeper up front than maybe the last time we played them.”

ON WHO THE SECOND-FASTEST DEFENSIVE LINE THEY FACED WAS?That’s a good point. I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that, have to get back to you later on that one.”

ON IF HE TELLS JALEN WHITLOW ANYTHING SPECIAL THIS WEEK TO COMBAT PASS RUSH? “No, we just…We’ve got to get the ball out of our hands fast. I think he understands. I mean, we’ve got to do some things in our protection: we’ve got to get some backs, we’ve got to get some tight ends, do some things like that to help our guys out. I don’t know if anybody they’ve played has just asked their offensive line to protect those defensive linemen. We’ve got to get them a little help. I’ve got to do a good job getting the ball out of his hand also.”

ON IF THE BACKUP QUARTERBACK SITUATION HAS CHANGED AND IF THERE IS A POINT OF NO RETURN FOR PULLING A PLAYER’S REDSHIRT? I think you’re always conscious — and I assume you’re talking about Reese (Phillips) — I think you’re always…I think…Here’s the way I look at it: you always take the player, Reese’s, situation into account but as part of the whole unit, the whole football team. If it was a situation where he was going to be the guy, I think it’s still a viable option for him to play. If it’s a situation where maybe it’s just to finish a game or do something like that — and it’s Coach Stoops’ decision — I think we would be cautious and try to keep his redshirt on him. In a perfect world we’d love to keep him redshirted. We’ve redshirted him this long. We’d like to keep Jalen healthy and go with him for the rest of the year.”

ON MARK STOOP SAYING DYSHAWN MOBLEY HAS TO GET CARRIES OR HE’LL COME PLAY DEFENSE AND WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO TO EARN A BIGGER ROLE? Yeah, I heard that. Well, I think he played a bigger role the other night, and he got a little minor injury. He’s fine. He’s practiced all week. He’s gotten more opportunities the last two weeks. It took him awhile to kind of figure out his role and to really get a good feel of what we’re trying to do in this offense. I think he has that now, and he gives us a different running style. I think — I don’t think, I know, he’ll play a key role this week also.”

ON WHAT TYPE OF RUNNING STYLE MOBLEY HAS: He’s downhill. He’s a physical, downhill runner.”

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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