Displeased Stoops, Eliot discuss day three practice

MARK STOOPS
Average practice today. Not good enough. Just didn’t feel like we had the mentality that we needed. I don’t know. Too early in camp (for) guys feeling sorry about themselves getting up early. Just an average practice. That’s really all I’ve got to say.

“Darius West will be out for the year, too. He got hurt yesterday. So, it’s a real shame. He’s a good player. He’s everything we thought he was going to be. Really talented football player. He came in with an injury. We thought it was healed up. Didn’t work out, so he’ll be out for the year.”

On what kind of injury West has: “Lower leg injury.”

On if the atmosphere was the accumulation of three early days: “You know I’m not giving them any place to hide. Not good enough. Just not tough enough, not enough energy, weren’t clean enough in our execution on either side of the ball. So, just wasn’t good enough.”

On if he saw anything he liked: “No, I didn’t. Hopefully when I turn on the film there will be some things. Didn’t feel like it. Let’s put it that way. The film sometimes is never as bad or as good as you think, so we’ll see. I hope that holds true today.”

On special teams play: “We’re getting there. They are. They’re doing a good job. Kickers are doing a nice job. Austin is really kicking the ball good.”

On if Ryan Timmons is still the primary returner: “There’s a bunch of guys that are taking reps there right now, but Ryan does look good.”

On if they are practicing with the two-spot style this year: “We’re doing certain drills two-spot. It’s a fine line there, because we obviously need to develop everybody in our program but also just depth is an issue.”

On if they are rotating quarterbacks the same way as last year: “Yeah. Yeah.”

On what Melvin Lewis did to improve during redshirt season: “He did some good things first couple of days. Put the pads on today, he was one of the guys that I didn’t think played good enough to be honest with you. We need to play better inside.”

On whether he attributes the bad day to guys not being ready to put the pads on or mental mistakes … “Nah. I don’t know.”

On if this is where the team’s leadership that has been talked about so much must take over: “Absolutely. Absolutely. Wasn’t good enough. They know it wasn’t good enough. I told them it wasn’t good enough. We’ll correct them in meetings. We’ll get out here and have walk-throughs. We’ll push them and we’ll do what we need to do, but we absolutely need leadership in our program to take charge.”

On if it’s worrisome to have a bad day so early: “It’s worrisome any time we have a bad day. You know I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not calculated. I don’t pick out certain days on my calendar and come in here and rant and rave. I’m not going to do that. Just wasn’t good enough. Disappointed in the effort.”

On whether he’ll address guys specifically: “I’ll do that, but that’ll be within the team.”

On whether any of the QBs have surprised him so far, been more or less than he’d seen from them in spring: “ The quarterbacks, they’re doing a nice job. They really are. I think the first day, I told you, I thought we dropped the ball too much. Since then, we’ve cleaned it up a little bit. They had a nice day yesterday; I didn’t speak to you yesterday, but they had a much better day yesterday offensively. Today, the quarterbacks seemed fine – other than taking charge and having leadership and getting the practice going the way we want it to go, which is obviously a big deal.”

D.J. ELIOT
On Mark Stoops saying today wasn’t good enough: “That’s correct. Yep. It wasn’t. First day of pads and we didn’t play physical. Disappointing.”

On surprise that they didn’t play well: “I was because they hadn’t put pads on in a long time. I thought they’d be excited. I thought they’d be flying around. I thought we’d have to slow them down, not speed them up.”

On if anyone played well today: “We’ll have to watch the film and see, but Bud (Dupree) always does good things. It wasn’t very good. It’s hard to say.”

On Darius West missing season and if he was added depth: “Yeah. That’s accurate. Darius has got a lot of ability and we were excited about working with him. At that position, we needed depth and losing one of those guys is something we didn’t need to happen.”

On if this is when you find out who your leaders are after a bad practice like this: “Yes. Yes. Leaders have to do what’s right and not what’s popular. So the guys that stand up and point out what guys are doing wrong, they don’t care what other people think, then those will be your leaders.”

On if the defense has those guys: “Yes.”

On who those guys are that will step up and talk to team: “I expect Bud Dupree will, Za’Darius Smith and hopefully we’ll grow some others.”

On West’s injury. Was it overuse or was it a reinjury of his broken leg from before: “Whatever Coach Stoops commented on that. And Tony Neely. What’s the comment on that?”

(Neely interjects: “They just said he had a lower leg injury.”)

On if team has been relatively healthy in the first few days: “Yes.”

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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