Stoops on SEC teleconference

MARK STOOPS
“It was good, going back and looking at the film from the last week, I thought it was important for us to start fast against UT Martin, both on the season and in the game. I thought our players had been working extremely hard through camp and preparing for last week’s game, so it was important to go out and have some success and play well. As I said, I felt like the preparation was good. I felt like we played with great energy. Probably as confident and as much energy as we’ve had since I’ve been there, been here, in year two. So that was good and exciting to see. Offensively I felt like we did some good things. Our tempo was much better. We played relatively clean with very few penalties. I felt like Patrick Towles starting, really did a nice job at quarterback for us, really managed the game, was very calm and his demeanor was very good and he handled his decisions very well. He made very good decisions throughout the game. Then he responded well if something did go bad, he responded well and came back and made some good plays. I felt very good, also offensively, some young guys really played well. Two red-shirt freshmen starting on the offensive line in Ramsey Meyers and Kyle Meadows really did a nice job. I felt like all the young skill players on offense played well. We played quite a few true freshmen at receiver and running back and they all performed very well. Encouraged with the youngsters we have there. Defensively, we started very well. The first group played very good, had eight or nine possessions and held them to zero points and not very many yards. And then it was obvious we need to continue to build some depth and need to learn how to finish out games. Didn’t play very well in the second half. I was encouraged with — a few players that stood out individually are Fred Tiller at corner and then A.J. Stamps, playing for the first time for us, a junior-college transfer, played exceptionally well. Had some great plays on the ball and was a great leader back there. So I feel good about the addition of A.J. and some other youngsters on that side of the ball as well. With that, I’ll open it up for some questions.
On Ramsey Meyers’ play and if Darrian Miller will start this week: “Yeah, Darrian will move back into the starting lineup at left tackle. We’ll move Jordan (Swindle) back over to the right side. But Kyle Meadows will play. He played well and he will get in the game again this week, and that’ll help us with some depth. Ramsey Meyers played very well. Gave us a nice physical presence in there for a young guy and plays with a good attitude. So I’m encouraged by those guys, along with Cole Mosier as well. Cole played left guard and, again, for a walk-on redshirt freshman really is a nice surprise and is playing very well for us. Gives us a nice physical presence inside. So we’re starting to gain some depth with our offensive line. Again we have a long way to go, but it’s a good starting point to move forward with us.”
On if the plan is to redshirt true freshmen who didn’t play Saturday: “I’m not sure about that at this point. I don’t know if we could make that decision yet. Just felt like if they didn’t play in that game on Saturday, they weren’t in a position for whatever reason to play last week. We’ll take that week-by-week, at least for the beginning part of this year.”
Stoops adds: “I’d also like to mention – I failed to mention – with our game with Ohio that I’m looking forward to a great game with Ohio. Obviously a big step up in competition for us. Ohio, with Frank Solich going to five straight bowl games, they return a bunch of players on defense, they’ll play exceptionally hard and very sound on both sides of the football. Very well coached. So that’s going to be a very big challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it this week.”
On where UK is with team speed: “Improved. I know that’s a word I’ve thrown around quite a bit, but we’re certainly improved in a lot of areas, and team speed would be one of those. I feel like the players, the upperclassmen that have been around our program have worked extremely hard in our strength and conditioning program to get bigger and to get stronger and to get faster. I also feel like the addition of some explosive young guys gives us some improvement in team speed. So I believe we’re getting closer to the high level that we play at here in the SEC. We’re getting better.”
On more momentum plays against UT Martin: “Yeah, I agree with you. I agree with you. Just for myself, standing there watching the game and just seeing our players out there, it was encouraging for me to see that. I felt it as well. Both sides of the ball, seeing some explosive plays, some playmakers on the field, that was very important. It was something I was looking forward to for the first game, just seeing what we have and how much we improved in those areas. The young guys definitely didn’t disappoint me. And I felt like our older guys are getting better, and you just get more and more confidence with more and more players around you.”
On where they need to improve: “We just need to be a little bit more disciplined fundamentally defensively. Like I said, we had some moments where we played very well last week. Saw some guys on the defensive side of the ball makes some plays. I thought it was very important to make some plays on the football. As you know, a year ago we did not have very many interceptions at all with one only coming from the secondary last year. Having two in the first game, I thought it was important. A.J. Stamps went up and made a heck of a play on the football, and Fred Tiller as well. I just think I’d like to see us be more consistent defensively. I felt like some guys were really playing a little bit undisciplined. Their hearts were in the right place, they wanted to make plays and get out there and do things, but you have to do it within the defense and be disciplined. I expect to make great improvement in that area here in week two, and we’re going to need to.”
On Braylon Heard’s status and his opening performance: “I guess he just wants to wrap it up. He had two carries for two long plays and two touchdowns. He doesn’t want to hurt his average anymore I guess. Nah, he landed a little funny. He made great move toward the end of his second run to elude the last would-be tackler and came down a little funny on his ankle. He has an ankle sprain. He’s day-to-day. He did not practice yesterday, and he looks very tentative today so I would list him as doubtful for right now, which is disappointing because he’s worked so hard and waited a while having to sit out last year. He definitely gives us some explosiveness that we need. I would list him as doubtful, but we certainly have some other depth at running back.”

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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