UK’s Stoops, Vandy’s Franklin on SEC teleconference

MARK STOOPS
“Looking forward to going to Nashville and playing a very good Vandy team. Vandy’s coming off a big win this past weekend and playing very well. We’re coming off a tough loss to a very good Missouri team. We need to go in there and play together in all phases if we’re to come away with a win. I feel like we’ve gotten off to a good week, had some good practices and the guys are working hard. Just need to continue to improve and looking forward to another great game this weekend. So, thank you.”

EARLY RECRUITING SUCCESS. WHAT’S THE MESSAGE TO THEM? “Most of these relationships and the commitments we’ve had, we’ve had for some time we’re continuing to build on those relationships. And the message is really the same. We show them exactly what we do, what our plan is and what we’re going to do offensively and defensively, how we’re going to help develop these young men on the field, off the field, leadership, strength and conditioning and all the things we’re continuing to do in our program and that’s a big thing, just getting to know these guys, getting them on campus and showing them who we are and where we’re going. These guys know. Most of these recruits knew that we were going to be in for a tough year this year and they know we’re progressing and getting better and working toward the future.”

ARE RECRUITS CONCERNED BY UK’S PALTRY RECORD ON FIELD? “No, it’s not an issue at all. I think anybody that is a fan of our program or involved in our program in any way, shape or form involved in the future of our program would like to see us win more games, but nobody’s deterred. Everybody knows where we’re headed and that we’re moving toward good things. And, no, the wins and losses on the field has not hurt us at all. I think everybody that watches us very closely sees the improvement in this team at one time or another, we’re just not consistent enough right now.”

FIRST-YEAR COACHES ARE A COMBINED 1-16 IN SEC GAMES. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT HOW TOUGH IT IS TO GET A PROGRAM OFF THE MAT IN THIS LEAGUE? “Yeah, I think it is difficult because you look at the programs in this league and everybody is doing things right. People are recruiting at a very high level. Guys are coaching at a high level and that’s just the way it is. In our own fans — and people within the program, coaches and everybody else — we all want immediate success and we’re working extremely hard to get that done, but it doesn’t get me down because I know I’ve been doing things right and trying to do things right for nine or 10 months and teams were playing have been doing (things right) for nine or 10 years minimum or longer, right? These teams are all doing the right things: recruiting right, coaching the right way. It’s a very competitive league and that’s where I have to show our team and show our players the silver lining and where we are improving and then the areas where we need to consistently grown and be more consistent.”

AUBURN BUCKING THE TREND. DOES IT HELP TO HAVE A GUY LIKE MALZAHN WHO ALREADY HAS COACHED THERE? “I’d think that would help. I would think if I went back to a place where I had been or something like that, it would be a lot easier for me. Certainly you’d know a good dose of the program and the culture of the place and things like that and systems and all that and there would be some carryover. And he’s done a very good job. That’s a good place with some good talent.”

 

JAMES FRANKLIN

Really excited about being at home. We’ve been on the road for the past two weeks, so excited about getting back to playing in front of our home fans and continue to build traditions and lay the foundation for our program. Our guys are excited about it and playing Kentucky and we’ve had a good week of practice. So I’ll open it up for practice.”

IS THIS A GREAT LIFE LESSON FOR THESE KIDS THAT HARD WORK HAS PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF YOUR OWN DESTINY? “Yeah, I think we talk about that every single day. You wake up every morning and you maximize that day. The more days you put together like that, the better the results will be. We preached that since day one and our kids have really bought into it. We were 4-4 at that same point last year as we were this year and we’ve been able to finish strong. Our kids believe in our process and it’s amazing what you can get done with a positive attitude and great work ethic.”

BEATING GEORGIA AND FLORIDA EXCITING OR IS IT JUST WANTING TO BE 1-0 THIS WEEK? “For our kids and our program internally, there’s no doubt about it. It’s about being 1-0. For these seniors, for all these kids, you only get so many opportunities. It’s not like baseball or basketball. You only get so many opportunities to play the game so you want to maximize each one of them and the best way to do that is focus on them one at a time. From an outside perspective, talking to the media and stuff like that, we do bring up some of the historical things because we’re still trying to change people’s perception about Vanderbilt football and who and what we’ve been and where we’re going, so we’ll talk about it a little bit. But internally, we’re pretty consistent with our 1-0 message.”

DIFFICULTY OF TAKING OVER A PROGRAM IN SEC? “I think the biggest thing is we were able to go out and hire a really good staff. We have great kids here and we have a really specific plan and the kids bought into the plan right away and worked extremely hard. We worked really hard at having great chemistry and because of that, we’ve been able to do some good things. It really comes down to the chemistry we have as a coaching staff and the chemistry we have with the players. With that, we’ve been able to maximize their experience here.”

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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