Stoops after Friday’s practice

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was not available today. But we did get some time with Mark Stoops. Here’s what he had to say:

MARK STOOPS
“Good practice, good practice. Was really good work. We’re more efficient, more efficient on both sides of the ball. You could see us opening up some good holes at times, that’s good for the offense, bad for the defense, but I thought you could see us a little more physical up there at times. We’re executing the passing game better. The quarterback situation is still murky because all of them are doing some good things at times. And of course, here and there making a few bad decisions. Overall we’re improving. We’re a better football team right now. And it’s like I told them: We’re a lot better. We’re miles ahead of where we were and we need to continue to go miles further to be competitive in this league, but I like the pace we’re on right now.”

WHAT IF A QUARTERBACK NEVER EMERGES LIKE LAST SEASON? “Again, just like I said a year ago, just because we’d like that to happen don’t mean I’m going to make a reckless decision. We’ve got to continue to work its way out. We’re in no panic mode. We have time.”
YOUNGER GUYS IN FULL PADS. HAVE THEY ADJUSTED? “Matter of fact, Mikel and TV stood out a little bit today. TV caught the ball in space and made some nice moves and you saw that elusiveness he brings. He’s a little guy, but he’s electric at times. Saw a few plays where he stood out. Mikel, seems like he’s handling his pads better, the physicality of practice, so that was good to see as well.”
IS SECONDARY GETTING BETTER? “Definitely. Yes. I mean it was just, if you go all the way back to last spring it’s really hard to even compare that because we were just trying to get a feel for who these guys were and systematically what we’re doing on both sides of the ball. So we’re miles ahead of where we were last spring and even all through last season I think we’re further ahead. We had a good, long winter and we had a chance to really slow things down, bring the players in, watch film, get with them in the winter a little bit. I just think I can see the strides we made, and again, we have a long way to go. But I just like the direction we’re heading right now.”
ON NATE WILLIS AND FRED TILLER. WHAT ARE THEY DOING WELL? “They’ve got to continue to grow. They’ve got to continue to get stronger and get bigger. They need a good spring here and a good summer as well. But like we’re talking about, another year of experience, another half year going into spring here. They’ve improved and they still need to grow.”
ON BLAKE MCCLAIN AND HIS POSITION: “We’re settled in on him. He’s playing nickel and safety, but that’s still double duty, but that’s what some guys have to do. So it depends on the team. That nickel spot for us is an important spot. It’s a tough position to play and match up with inside slot wide receivers if you’re playing some man and doing some different things. He’s a very good blitzer as well. So he’s good at that position, but he’s also good at safety. So he’s in a dual role right now and we’ll continue to work with him at both of those spots. For the most part, we got him out, we moved him out of the corner business for the most part. So he’s really just settled in on three positions, so that’s good.”
ON REGIE MEANT: “He’s very physical, a big guy, not only in weight, but he’s got some height to him. So he’s what we’re looking for. He is a freshman, but we love his mentality and his athletic ability. He’s short on experience right now and you can see him struggling with that at times, but I think he’s a guy you like to bring along and grow with because he’s what you want both physically and mentally.”
DOES IT HELP HAVING VETERANS AROUND MEANT? “Definitely, yeah. Definitely does. As you know, we need a lot more depth. We need more guys to compete at the level we want to compete at, we need a bunch of guys in there. So we need to continue to develop all those D-linemen.”
ON TIM MASTHAY WORKING WITH LANDON FOSTER: “I saw him punting after practice and I saw him booming the heck out of the ball, but I don’t know whether he’s working with him on the side or not. I don’t even know if that’s legal, so I don’t want to talk about that. So they’re friends and they’re just working out. I know he’s booming the heck out of the ball and he’s got a great work ethic.”
DID JOJO KEMP PRACTICE TODAY? “He’s not bad, but he’s tweaked up enough. I think he’s going to go tomorrow.”
ANY CONNECTION TO KEMP’S OFFSEASON SURGERY? “No.”
ON JALEN WHITLOW INJURY: “Jalen’s been able to go. He had a tweaked hamstring, but he’s been able to go. He’s been fine the last couple of days.”
ON A.J. STAMPS: “I really like what he’s doing. A little bit inexperienced at what we’re asking him to do, but again, I really like what he brings physically and mentally. I think it’s real important to us. It’s great that he’s here midyear, able to go through spring and summer, but athletically I really like what he does. It’s just a matter of getting him some more experience here.”
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT FOR STAMPS? “He’s played both corner and safety. He played a lot of corner last year, but we’re playing him at safety, but he brings us that athletic safety we need for covering guys. There’s no way around it. The old days of just a big, physical safety are gone. You’ve got to be able to do a lot of things and he’s very versatile in that way.”
WITH NEW COACH AT SAFETY, ARE YOU ASKING THOSE GUYS TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? “No. He’s within our system, what we’re doing systematically, so no. There’s nothing there. He just brings us some good cover ability.”

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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One Response to Stoops after Friday’s practice

  1. Tom says:

    We’re fixed!