LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops met with reporters for the final time before his Cats take on Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kroger Field.
Stoops discussed how Tennessee running back John Kelly’s absence will affect Kentucky. He also explained how his team responded this week in practice following a blowout loss last weekend. And there was positive news on the injury front for UK.
Here’s everything the coach said.
Opening statement: “It’s been a good week of preparation so far. Got another day and a half here, and we’ll be anxious and ready to play. So, looking forward to it.”
On going back to basics with secondary: “We have fundamental periods every day for practice, every Tuesday and Wednesday. We always have fundamental. There’s always things you have to hit. You can’t get too far away from it. But yeah, we went back to a few things just to retrain them a little bit. If anything all these drills a lot of times it’s just points of emphasis, just overemphasize what we need them to do.”
On if DBs confidence is still good: “Yeah, we’ll be fine. They’ll be ready to play.”
On if he thinks his message Monday really stuck: “I do, but I also think our guys responded the way I knew we would. Again, nobody in this business and if you watch college football, you don’t intend to do that. So there’s nothing intentional about that. That’s why we’re constantly on them all the time. Sometimes it gets redundant. They get tired of hearing it. They have to have the leadership within the group to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s the million dollar question, to always know when that’s gonna happen and when you’re gonna go play the way you’re not so proud of. And so I think this group has pride in what they’re doing. And again, I know what the final score was and I’m not happy about it, but it wasn’t like everything was trashed. We just gotta not have any lapses and not have any quarters, or series or plays where we’re not playing at our best. I think the group has some pride in what they’re doing and hopefully it’ll carry over into Saturday.”
On if Mike Edwards will play: “Yes.”
On if Tennessee not having John Kelly changes anything for UK: “No, it really doesn’t. It doesn’t because their other backs are like him in the receiving aspect of it, and that’s where Kelly was so good. And the other guys are good receiving tailbacks as well.”
On how Jordan Jones played in his first game back: “He was a little rusty. He knows that. He was a little sloppy, but the same instincts, the same quickness. But when you’re missing reps and missing time, I hope he’ll play a lot better this week.”
On if he’s talked to the team about ignoring the talk of Tennessee’s season: “We don’t talk about them and what their mental state is. I would have no idea where they’re at. It’s really always about us and what our attitude and preparation. So no. I really don’t discuss that at all. It’s about us. If we didn’t play so well the last week individually, I think we’ve gotta have enough pride about ourselves to come back and play well. Collectively as a group I know it’s that way. I feel it this week.”
On Benny Snell’s attitude: “It seems good. I’m sure there’s frustration. Anybody that’s had success – a lot of the offensive players want the ball. Defensive guys want to make tackles and interceptions but it’s always within the framework of the team and team success. I’m sure there’s some individual frustration but that’s not out of the ordinary. Any competitor will have that and want to do well for himself and for the team. I haven’t seen anything like that.”
On preparing for the cold: “Sure, I definitely think that. We’ve been outside all week obviously. It was cold. We didn’t get any wet, rain or anything, but we got some cold weather yesterday. But I don’t know what you can do other than just go about your business.”
On radio show discussing feeling sorry for players who have to get post-game reaction from social media and if he had to discuss social media this week: “What I mean by that is their confirmation comes from social media instead of their team or their coaches. And maybe people don’t always see everything we see. You dumb luck into something or maybe somebody thinks they did really poorly when they did some really good things. And that’s what I mean by that. Everything’s so instant, you can’t wait until we review the film to see who the players of the game were and who all did well, and maybe if somebody did something real bad, then they’ve gotta hear about it. It’s just part of our life and part of their life now, so we always touch on social media. We don’t dwell on it. It is what it is. Our guys understand that, but it doesn’t mean they’re perfect. You see it all the time across the country, where how people respond to adversity and anger and different things. You see some reactionary bits and pieces, but that’s why to me some of it we address and we move on.”