Monday, September 28, 2015

Transcript: Coach Mark Stoops Monday News Conference Recap

Kentucky Football Head Coach Mark Stoops


Opening statement … 
“A hard-fought game (vs. Mizzou), I thought we really did some good things on both sides of the ball. And did what we had to do to win the game against a quality football team. That was one of our more complete efforts in some time and hopefully we can use it and build on that. Looking forward to getting back out to practice this week and getting some things corrected that we did wrong in the game and moving on to Eastern Kentucky. 

I would like to send my condolences to Coach Hood and Eastern Kentucky. Hearing about that tragedy, it is sad for all of us. Our hearts go out to him, his family and the entire program. That is sad thing about leading into this game because we are very excited to play them. We welcome them and look forward to another hard fought game in bringing them to Commonwealth. So look forward to a very good game with Eastern and I know they have some distractions this week in dealing with that tragedy. Again, I just feel for them and their program.” 

On Jojo Kemp being listed as the starter at running back …
“The thinking there is that is the way we game went. Jojo was the guy that did some things in the game and he deserves an opportunity. Again, you guys get hung up on the depth chart and believe me it is important to our players as well – all of our players. We take all of that into consideration, but we need all of our players to compete at a high level all the time to help us win games.”

On if Boom Williams was upset after the game …
“I am waiting to visit with him myself. He had some academic responsibilities all morning. I have been trying to get him into my office prior to this conference. I haven’t been able to get the time. We will meet before our meetings this afternoon.” 

On Boom Williams blocking …
“That’s not the issue. Was it up to snuff or not, just like some of our guys there are always things that we can critique them on and do better. That is not the issue. I guess I am not insinuating that there is an issue, but there could be I guess. We will look at it.” 

On the health of the offensive line …
“Yeah, the health of them, that is what Jordan (Swindle) is not listed as the starter. If he comes back and gets healthy than obviously he will start, if he is healthy and ready to go. I would say he’d be questionable at best right now. He has a leg injury a pulled muscle right now and that is bothering him a little bit. I think George (Asafo-Adjei) will be healthy and Zach (West) will be healthy.”

On to clarify that Jojo is listed first because he played better …
“Yeah, that is what I said. I need to talk to Boom. I don’t want to say anything or insinuate anything. I need to talk to him.”

On Cory Johnson’s play Saturday vs. Mizzou …
“It was very big. With Regie (Meant) being hurt there is another example of some depth and a guy coming in and really just working to improve. Again, things I talk about all the time of developing our players, there is a perfect example of a guy. I am very proud of the effort that he had and Coach (Jimmy) Brumbaugh has worked really hard with him. He has come a long way and he has some ability, he is very active and disruptive inside. He comes in and produces and has a heck of a game. That is what you take from a game like that and there are many examples of our guys stepping up and doing that. But a guy that hasn’t played that much or produced that much and gets thrown into that role and has a great game and is SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, I am very proud of him that is a great effort.”

On why Cory Johnson wasn't as productive last season …
“There are many reasons, you never know when a junior college player comes in when it all comes together for them. There is a lot of things and a lot of change, whether it is schematically or technique and speed of the game. There are many issues. It’s not a lot of fun playing defensive line a lot of times in the SEC. There are a lot of things that happen very quickly. You line up six inches from your other man.”

On Cory Johnson questioning his own work ethic last season …
“Yeah, that’s right. You hear me talk about that all the time in so many ways. When it clicks and the level of consistency that you have to play with and you have to prepare that way. You hear me talking about that every week. The urgency to prepare.”

On a common theme that players assume things will be handed to them …
“It’s no different at any place I have been. There is an adjustment period. That is what we always tell players and people ask us what we talk about in recruiting and it’s an opportunity. People have an opportunity and what they do with it is up to them. We do our very best to educate these guys about what it takes and we do our very best to teach them and mold them and develop them. Again, that is one point – since you brought it up – that you take away from this past game. We have certainly grown in that area. I think you see more guys able to overcome some bad things and you see guys step up and you see depth and you see guys playing to the best of our ability. We know we are going to play some more talented teams at times, but we have to play the very best we can and develop our players the very best we can.”

On having that conversation with players …
“I think it’s a conversation that we have with our players daily in so many ways. I mean, pointing it out and watch film and educate them. That is going to be a discussion with the guys today. Again, you heard me talk about it afterwards. Last week, I felt like Florida beat us beat us because they were more mature and played harder and that is a compliment to teams that play hard and with great urgency. I thought we were certainly better this Saturday, but there are still plays that I am not happy with that we need to play with a greater sense of urgency. There are no plays off. You never know what one play changes a game.”

On if he likes the way the schedule lays out with three SEC games done and a few non-conference left to go …
“I guess so. I don’t really look. I just take it one game at a time.”

On how he will approach the history of these two teams off the field …
“That will be addressed early in the week. We will talk about it and then it’s done with. We have to move on. I have great respect for Coach Hood and his program and the program he is building and the history they have had and what they have done. We will welcome them to our stadium. I think this can be a very good situation and a good rivalry. I have seen it before at other programs where teams that are so close let that kind of stuff filter into the game and there is no place for it. I will have no tolerance all week on anything off the field or any talk and all of that BS. I don’t want anything to do with that. We want to play a good, clean, hard-fought football game and that is what I am going to tell them and I don’t want to hear any of it. I have respect for them. This could be a good thing for the state and a good thing for both programs and we want a good game.”

On if he worries that once the pads go on things could get “chippy” …
“It needs to be addressed and we will address it and talk about it on our end that is for sure. Once the game starts I will have little tolerance. If I see any of that stuff, then they are not going to play. I am not going to deal with that stuff. That looks classless and looks sloppy and we will not play that way.”

On getting Drew Barker some playing time …
“I have wanted to get Drew in for some time, you’ve know that, I have talked about it. And you know the way that has gone with that position and you guys have been around enough and educated enough about football to know that the opportunity has not really been that and that disappoints me. At times I felt like I just wanted to do it, but I haven’t pulled the pin. I would love to play him in this game, definitely, and he will play in this game. I have been wanting to do that no matter what the game is, just force myself like we have talked about. If it’s the second quarter and the game is on the line or just any game. No matter what the game is, I have to get him some reps.”

On Matt Elam …
“Elam is doing good. What is happening in this past game in particular, when we are playing all these teams and they are completely spread out, they only played two snaps I believe or big sets in this game and we are playing some different packages. He is a true nose. I said that last week. When we are not in that package, he has not played as much. He has to continue to develop and get better. It is not like we are down on him, just what we are doing and what we are seeing.”

On winning close SEC games …
“We’ve won some close games, and again, I think that’s a credit to a lot of factors. I think, first and foremost, it’s just us growing as a program and finding ways to win. I think it’s the ability to overcome negative things that happen throughout the course of the game and adversity that seems to hit you in every game. I think we’ve done a nice job. Our players have been able to overcome it. I think we’re deeper. We’re a better football team. Again, you’ve heard me talk about it this year throughout these press conferences. As you get better, as you become a better team, you’ll win more games. We can’t talk our way through it. We can’t worry about it. It’s not about our opponents. It’s about what we do and how we prepare and how we fundamentally get better each week.”

On last week’s win building the team’s reputation in the SEC East …
“We play them every year anyway. Missouri is a very good football team, and I have a lot of respect for them, but them being on our side, I don’t understand the question. I think, just in general, I think the East is getting better. Just me watching games and once in a while catching glimpses on TV. I don’t really get into all that, you know that. We just try to win games. We’ve got our hands full trying to win games. They’re so important, they’re valuable, and that’s why everyone understands that, and we certainly do. I really don’t have an opinion. I’m rambling about it, but I really don’t care. I don’t care what the perception is with East or West. All I want to do is get better and win some games.”

On what is impressive about EKU and playing former players …
“It’s not weird. I have really great respect for those players and Eastern. There are always situations and circumstances. We deal with a lot of numbers and a lot of guys. Every situation is different, why guys choose to leave or need to transfer. I respect that. We have transfers on our team that I have great respect for that came from other places. Whatever is best for them, we support. We are in this for the kids and what’s best for them.”

On what stands out about EKU’s team to scheme for …
“No, I see a good football team. There are a lot of plays and schemes that we see a lot from different people. Everybody gets creative and tries to do different things for certain games, but I see a good football team that’s well-coached.”

On plans to honor EKU’s Joey Kraemer …
“I’m not sure. Certainly. Greg Hart played with the young man, and Greg came in my office this morning (I was in meetings) and left me a message. I’m going to get with Greg because it’s my understanding, I haven’t’ talked to Greg yet, but Greg and him were very close, so he asked me the same thing. Of course we would be certainly open to do that. It could be a great game for the state and our two institutions, and we would do anything to help bring some sort of peace to him and his family. I’m not sure on those sort of things. I’m in full support of and need to go through the chain of command. It’s above my pay grade. I might have to get (Sports Information Director) Tony (Neely) to make that decision.”

On EKU’s Dy’Shawn Mobley …
“Dy’Shawn was very productive for us, in particular at the end of my first year there. He’s a really good kid and really produced well at the end of the year, and he’s a very talented player. He’s been bothered by a nagging injury, seems like a hamstring that’s been bothering him or something. I’m sure he’ll be anxious and excited to come back here and play for his team and to help his team. They have a couple transfers, the other transfer from Florida who’s been playing very good at tailback as well. They have two or three guys that they like at that position who have been effective.”

On EKU’s Noah Spence…
“Great player. Started, I think, 13 games at Ohio State. He’s a five-star recruit out of high school, very talented player. He’s a very good player”

On how much stock Stoops puts into high school pedigree in recruiting …
“It’s certainly a factor, it certainly helps when you recruit players if they come from a winning program and have been used to winning. But it’s not the only factor by any stretch. There’s players that come from all different forms, different teams, different levels of competition that are extremely successful, so you could never just use that as criteria. But, you asked me, is it important? Do I care about it? Yes, I do, certainly. If they generally come from a program that’s been successful, generally they’re well coached and have been taught the right things. The culture certainly helps and if that rubs off on the other guys, and the competition part of it kicks in at practice and things like that, then you love it.”

On WR Garrett Johnson …
“I’ve been very pleased with Garrett. We’ve talked about him often, you’ve heard me talk about him. He’s made some tough catches. You heard me mention him in the [Missouri] post-game conference. He’s stood out to us for some time and you’d like to see him continue to grow and continue to make those catches when the team needs it. Making tough, competitive catches and tough, competitive plays. He’s doing a good job. ”

On how critical developing impact players is …
“We all like guys that change the numbers on the scoreboard. I think Garrett Johnson can become one of those players, and he is, but have a greater impact on games. He’s becoming that type of player. I thought we really played good across the board. At receiver Jeff Badet didn’t have the numbers, but he’s playing some good football, Dorian Baker came back and had a good game, and Garrett is playing good. C.J. Conrad had a good game. We mentioned all of the offensive linemen. I think four of those guys, except for [Jon] Toth, were all redshirted my first year and are all redshirt sophomores. They played extremely well. We’re developing more and more playmakers. ”

On Cole Mosier’s pass blocking …
“He held up very well, he was one of the players of the game for us, within our team. He really graded out well and performed very well and battled hard. Again, a great example of a kid that does anything we ask him to do. He’ll play guard, he’ll play tackle, he’ll play the right side, the left side. He’ll do whatever we ask him to do, he’ll battle, he’ll work. Again, Coach (John) Schlarman has done a good job of developing all of those guys. We had two or three injuries happen at one time and [yet] we go in and win a tough, competitive game. So, that’s that development I’ve been talking about. I appreciate that, I appreciate the coaching staff and what they’re doing to work and develop these players.” 

On talking about potential signees … 
“I choose not to on that, Kyle. There are some programs that have been in trouble. I just choose not to comment on that. There is a loophole, and it gets dicey, it gets gray. We signed mid-year guys last year as you know, and we are all for mid-year guys, but how I talk about individuals publicly is gray. There have been programs that have been penalized and I would like to stay away from that.”

On UK replacing Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith in 2015 on defensive line … 
“Just like we talked about at the beginning of the year, that it would take a group effort to replace Bud (Dupree) and Za’Darius (Smith), it is a group effort, it is a team effort. As I said prior to the season, I thought overall we would grow and get better defensively and I think we’ve shown that. Replacing those guys is hard to do, but our guys are playing hard and the unit is playing better.”

On who grades out players on Sunday’s … 
“Position coaches. I have to get a little sleep.”

On defensive backs Mike Edwards and Darius West reps … 
“They did and that is a perfect example like I talked about with Drew (Barker). We are talking about Darius (West) and Mike (Edwards). They played at safety and got some reps and when the game was on the line, in a tough game, we prepared them that way all week. They went in and played. They gave us some series that were very helpful. It is going to help them and it is going to help our program. We’ve got to continue to do that and I’ve got to do a better job of pushing position coaches to play them. It’s hard because every play, every series is so critical. But it is also critical to developing the program and getting that depth that you need.”

On Patrick Towles performance after a sub-par game vs. Florida… 
“Patrick did a very good job. He played a very good game. As you know, that position gets a lot of pressure and there are a lot of critics out there. It is an easy target, to target one guy. I said that in my postgame and last Monday, that I understand what goes on in this business and that there is always someone to blame. After a loss, the bulls-eye goes on the quarterback. He bounced back and had a great week. That is why last week I said that and I will continue to say that, let’s not put it all on him. It can start with me and end with me. To criticize him – there are so many things that go on that not everyone gets to see – we are never going to deny that he might miss some opportunities, absolutely, he’s human. Every quarterback misses some opportunities. Every player will be held accountable on our team and if it is not up to standards then we will take another look. This Saturday is a perfect example of what he is capable of. He needs to continue to grow, continue to improve, just like our whole team.”

On offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson getting Towles comfortable … 
“Part of that is the comfort level that Coach Dawson was trying to talk about last week. Just getting him comfortable and playing to his ability. Complement our coaching staff to get him in some plays and situations to get him comfortable, get him going, then let his ability and instincts take over. I thought he made some great decisions.”

On if he interjects himself into coaching the quarterback’s mental approach … 
“I answered that quite honestly postgame when Jen (Smith) asked me what I said to him and I said ‘nothing, I try to stay away.’ I try to encourage him and push him. It is not like we have to handle a quarterback with kid gloves, but you don’t want to mentally get into someone’s head, or mentally get into a play caller’s head and take them out of what they do. That is my philosophy. I get on Patrick, but I believe in him and what he can do. We have to get the best out of him.”

On if the win over Missouri was a must-needed win … 
“Of course. We needed it as a program. You always need to bounce back. Everybody is going to face adversity it is how you respond to it. That is what I am most proud of to see him (Patrick) do. In this day and age we don’t hide from anything. There is information out there, the players understand what is going on. The best thing is just to address it and move on. I’ve told them that many times, that I actually feel sorry for them with social media because it is just ridiculous at times for them. So they have to deal with that. The minute they get out of the game, if they happen to get a touchdown or something, their phones are blowing up. And if they don’t get a touchdown, it’s ‘why, why, why.’ That is what I try to tell you guys, it takes a whole team. Somedays you are going to get the ball, somedays you are not, catch some passes, play good defense, the whole thing across the board. You never know. That is why you have to have a team, team attitude and team effort. We are going to continue to push that and be that type of team.”

On the emerging depth at WR and the play of junior Ryan Timmons … 
“There is a combination of things. Ryan needs to do his part and we need to continue to improve. We have worked hard, relentlessly around the clock, to put them in a position to be successful. At some point, another guys has to look at taking those reps, him or anybody. Ryan has done some good things, but there are things that he knows he can do better.”

On how his team handles adversity and success … 
“Our resolve has showed throughout the course of this year. We have not played perfect football by any stretch, but I believe we have showed great resolve all year and I think we can build on that. Our team has had a tough attitude and their approach is better and more consistent. Not everyone will tell them they are good and we will see if we have a good week or not. We just need to put our head down and develop.”

On if they are looking at different options at positions … 
“We always look at other options at every position.”

On the ability of freshman RB/KR Sihiem King to break a return … 
“I do. I have been very pleased with him. He is a talented player. It is hard, when games are like they are being played. Certainly our SEC games this year. Both sides are playing some pretty good defense, there are not as many plays, not as many big runs. You are playing good teams, you need to grind things out. That is what is important for our players to understand. You are starting to see that at wide receiver, even though they are not gaudy numbers but when you make big catches in critical situations that is what we have to do. We might have to grind out yards, that is what we have to do. It is just like at the end of the first half, to grind out a first down to not give Missouri an opportunity to score is huge. I’ll take the booing, that is fine. But that is a huge play, to get a first down and not punt backed up and give Missouri a chance to score and get momentum. That happened to us the week before when we gave up a late (first half) touchdown to Florida. Those are hard to overcome in a close game. But grinding out first downs, then icing the game by grinding out first downs. Getting tough, two, three, four, five yards on certain carries, that is what wins you close football games.”

On fans wanting UK to score to end the first half vs. Mizzou … 
“No. We were absolutely prepared to go full steam ahead on that, after one first down. What was the ball on the 10 or 15? You saw their pass rushers and you saw the week before. We weren’t going to just drop back and be reckless. So once we got the first down, we were ready to go. Shannon called a play that I’m not going to question, but got stuffed. So then you have to take the gas off and be smart. Shannon and I were on the headsets and we are talking. We were ready to go fast, fully prepared to go try to score. When the first two plays didn’t work on the second set of downs, we took the gas off and just wanted to get out of there. That’s just smart football. It may not please everybody but we don’t need to win every game 49-48, all that stuff that used to go on. Some day that may happen and I’ll be darn happy sitting up here, but we will take it any way we can get it.”

AP/USA Today Football Top 25 Poll 9/28/15

AP Top 25

1. Ohio St. (45)
2. Michigan St. (5)
3. Mississippi (10)
4. TCU
5. Baylor
6. Notre Dame
7. UCLA
8. Georgia
9. LSU
10. Utah (1)
11. Florida St.
12. Clemson
13. Alabama
14. Texas A&M
15. Oklahoma
16. Northwestern
17. USC
18. Stanford
19. Wisconsin
20. Oklahoma St.
21. Mississippi St.
22. Michigan
23. West Virginia
24. California
25. Florida

Others Receiving Votes: Toledo 68, Oregon 64, Arizona 48, Boise St. 38, Iowa 37, Texas Tech 36, Houston 23, Duke 18, Temple 17, Miami (FL) 14, Kansas St. 12, Memphis 11, N.C. State 10, Navy 9, Minnesota 5, BYU 5, Tennessee 4


USA Today

1. Ohio St. (61)
2. Michigan St. (2)
3. TCU
4. Baylor
5. Mississippi (1)
6. Georgia
7. Notre Dame
8. LSU
9. Florida St.
10. UCLA
11. Clemson
12. Utah
13. Alabama
14. Oklahoma
15. Texas A&M
16. USC
17. Northwestern
18. Wisconsin
19. Oklahoma St.
20. Stanford
21. West Virginia
22. Mississippi St.
23. Florida
24. Oregon
25. California


Others Receiving Votes: Michigan 84, Arizona 72, Kansas St. 66, Miami (FL) 61, N.C. State 52, Boise St. 47, Duke 44, Iowa 44, Memphis 42, Texas Tech 22, Temple 18, Toledo 15, Auburn 8, Georgia Tech 6, Minnesota 6, Missouri 6, Houston 5, Kentucky 3, Indiana 2, Tennessee 2, BYU 1, Illinois 1, Navy 1

2015 SEC Football Standings 9/28/15

2015 SEC Football Standings 9/28/15


East Division

Georgia (8) 2-0 4-0 
Florida (25) 2-0 4-0 
Kentucky 2-1 3-1 
Missouri 0-1 3-1 
Tennessee 0-1 2-2 
South Carolina 0-2 2-2 
Vanderbilt 0-2 1-3 

West Division

Ole Miss (3) 2-0 4-0 
LSU (9) 2-0 3-0 
Texas A&M (14) 1-0 4-0 
Mississippi State (21) 1-1 3-1 
Alabama (13) 0-1 3-1 
Arkansas 0-1 1-3 
Auburn 0-2 2-2 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Transcript: Stoops Previews Mizzou at Monday News Conference

Kentucky Football Head Coach Mark Stoops


Opening statement … 
“Just like I said after the game, I was disappointed in the Florida game and the outcome. I felt like our team played exceptionally hard, but didn’t make enough plays to win the game. We are optimistic as we move forward. We have to get back and have a good week of practice and prepare for another great opportunity this week with Missouri.”

On Regie Meant’s status …
“Yeah, he got banged up. He is better. Had a good report today. He will be questionable. As of last night we thought he was doubtful when we put that depth chart together, but there is a chance he could play a little bit so we will see. We will see how he progresses throughout the week.”

On the team’s performance Saturday … 
“Well, if you look in general, I was pleased with the way the defense played and overall effort. We are always picky and looking for that perfect game knowing that it probably is never going to happen. But you are always striving for perfection. You know, we were far from that defensively, but I did feel like the guys played really hard. We limited big plays. They had one big play in the game and really disappointed in that one. It was a pass play that really A.J. Stamps had a great opportunity to defend and didn’t make the play and weren’t in position to make the play and we should have been. Outside of that, the unit really played hard. There were some missed opportunities and give them credit in the way they escaped some pressure at times. We were harassing the quarterback and we were on him and both touchdown drives we had opportunities to stop them and didn’t do it. But overall it was good effort and I think that was good to see. Offensively, the effort was there as well just need to convert and be precise in certain situations.”

On Ryan Flannigan’s status …
“Yeah, he was cleared late in the week but hadn’t had a rep or hit anybody live. We even took him out there Friday and had some pads on people and let him hit a little bit and he felt good. He just hadn’t had a lot of reps. It is very big to have him back this week. He will be full-steam ahead. Get him in there and get him ready to go this week.”

On Maty Mauk’s ability to rush and the concerns that presents …  
“It’s very concerning and we need to do a better job and it starts today. We will work on that and getting some things corrected. In our pass lanes in general weren’t great and in some of our pressures and some of our technique issues were there and some of it was athletic ability. Sometimes you just have to make a play.” 

On Jason Hatcher moving up the depth chart …
“He has earned the right. We wanted to make sure he earned his spot and worked his way back in there and did some good things. In certain packages we will go with some other guys. That is again for you all. Y’all make a bigger deal out of the depth chart than we do, I promise you. Certain packages mean certain guys start and some don’t. We will see. He is going to play and so is Denzil (Ware) and so is Jabari (Johnson).”

On the offensive line protection issues … 
“Well, there is technique with the guys up front. There are guys overreacting. Maybe they get beat with a speed rush one time so they start popping out too far and they come under. There are things the quarterback can do in stepping up into the pocket. There is protection we could do and call things better. All of us could do a better job and will. Give them credit, they were very disruptive and caused some havoc for us up front, but there are things we can do better and will do better.”

On Kentrell Brothers from Missouri …
“He’s just a very good football player. What I like when I watch Missouri and have a lot of respect for is how hard they play. I really do. Defensively, they have been that way and play very hard and very disruptive and I appreciate that.”

On how you counteract a linebacker as disruptive as Brothers … 
“We have got to do what we do. If you haven’t noticed, we are going to face very good players throughout the year, but we can’t overreact to one player. Certain players throughout the year demand some attention, in particular up front if you can’t handle a pass rush or something like that. But with any defensive player you have to do what you do and try to do some things better and more effective than we did last week.”

On Dorian Baker and if Coach Stoops worries about recent drops becoming mental …
“A little bit, sure. You have to look at things. He is one of those guys that is high energy. I have talked about him before bringing him back in sometimes. He’s erratic. But I love the way he plays and love his energy and his passion. You just have to make sure he’s ready to play. There is always that balance as a coach. I have talked about it often, we do our fair amount of getting guys ready and talks and pregame speeches throughout the week – motivating guys. But most of it has to come with motivation and preparation. You can’t talk yourself into being ready to play on Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon. He is a guy that seems to always be ready. Maybe he is too amped up, I don’t know. But usually he makes those catches and if he is going to be the guy that we think he could be he has to be consistent.” 

On Boom Williams … 
“He has been a really good player for us so far this year. At times last year as well, as you know. He is growing and growing and needs to continue to do that. He has been steady this year in his practice and his approach. He’s a talented football player. What makes him effective? It is hard to put my finger on it exactly, except he is extremely talented and explosive. And those things, you’ve heard me say it before, those things are between him and God, some of those moves. We can’t teach him those things. You have to have great instincts and he has shown that.”

On if he is OK health wise after getting banged up in the first half vs. Florida …
“He’s fine. I didn’t even know that (he got banged up).”

On comparing Florida and Missouri defensively … 
“Both effective and both four-down primarily and both disruptive up front. Missouri, after playing them third year in a row here, it starts with them up front. They are disruptive up front, just like Florida. They play hard and play with an edge to them and I like that. When I watch a defense it starts with them up front. We will have to be better and I expect we will be.”

On facing tough defenses throughout the SEC …
“Well, as far as the league goes I think that gets talked about plenty. We obviously have great respect for all of our opponents and we know it is going to be a real challenge week in and week out. That is the same old story that you are going to be tired of hearing me and every other SEC coach talk about in the grind that we always have to live. It’s important that we have some experience at quarterback and we need to play better at that position like we do across the board. I think a lot of people, it is easy for people to look for someone to blame when you lose a game. I don’t think that is right or fair. That has not been my style. If there is any one person and anything to blame, it starts and ends with me. We will play better at quarterback and better across the board. The good news is we are closing the gap. We are in a one possession game and we are all upset. That is a good thing. The fans are upset and want better play and so do I. So let’s go back to work today.”

On Patrick Towles’ mindset … 
“You know, there are things that we are constantly looking at to help alleviate some pressure and different things. There are things that we can do better. There are things we can do throughout the week and some formations we can put him in to help him be successful. We will all do our part and he will be fine.”

On what he wants to see Towles do better …
“Probably the things that you saw and he saw, certain passes that are there we can’t miss. He does some very good things. The deep ball he threw to Jeff (Badet) and passes throughout the game that the talent is there. The frustrating thing for him and for myself and for all of us is when there are layups there you can’t miss layups. That, he has to improve on and he knows that.”

On Missouri exceeding expectations …
“Well, that’s the greatest compliment you can give a team or a coach is when they exceed their expectations, and they’ve certainly done that the past two years as far as what everyone has picked them and all that. Not from a coaches point of view, but from the media and things like that. They’ve always played hard, and they win close games. That’s credit to what they’re doing and how they’re coaching them, and like I said, the energy that their team plays with is good.”

On special teams so far …
“Well, there are things that they could do better. For some reason, Landon (Foster)’s not kicking the ball as good as he can and that’s creating some problems. We’ve got to get those things figured out, and it’s putting a lot of pressure on our punt team, on the cover guys, because we’re not kicking the ball very good. We’ve got to get some things figured out, but the effort and the coaching and what guys are doing I feel very good about.”

On Ryan Timmons returning punts …
“Yeah, there are times when we would like him to get to the ball, but in general, he’s looked pretty comfortable back there. He’s done a good job.”

On lessons from Saturday …
“Well, there’s a lot to learn from. Every time we step on the field, there’s so much to learn from, and we will. Again, the good thing is, and I’m taking nothing from Florida because they had a lot to do with us not playing well, but we feel like we could play better. We’re in a one-possession game with an opportunity to win the game and didn’t get it done. There’s a lot to take from that that we will get better, and we will continue to improve on things. I like our team’s attitude. I like our focus.  I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll be anxious and excited to get this film watched and corrected, as painful as it will be at times, but then to get back on the practice field this afternoon and prepare for a team like Missouri is going to be another great opportunity for us, and we’ll be excited and ready to play.”

On preparing against two quarterbacks …
“No, no different. No different to plan for the two quarterbacks. Maty’s got more experience, and he’s got a great feel for the pocket, like we’ve talked about. He’s a big part of why they’ve won so many games because he’s a player and finds ways to move the ball and create space in that pocket. He’s always a guy that, from a defensive point of view, that is a pain in the butt sometimes when they ad-lib and make plays.” 

On getting Flannigan back and if that helps going against running quarterback …
“It does. Ryan was really playing some great football. You heard us talking about him throughout the spring and throughout the summer. He was really playing fast and explosive. Anytime you’re getting a player like that back, you’re happy. Khalid (Henderson) will still get some reps and play and maybe back us up at both spots and be able to help because he’s done some really good things for us. I really appreciate the great effort he’s given us and really played well at times. It’ll be good to get Ryan back as well and get that depth because we’ve been pretty thin there.” 

On Flannigan staying plugged in during injury…
“I think that’s always a challenge for guys, in particular, that have been starters for you, and then you pass them up with someone else on the roster and give somebody an opportunity. That’s hard on anybody, not just him, and that happens across football. That’s part of our business. There’s things that, you know, we’re moving forward, and we are not making any knee-jerk decisions around here just because of a loss, like I said. I like where we’re at, believe me. I wished we would have played better, and I know I could do better, and our team could do better to have a different outcome last Saturday, but it’s over. We’re going to move forward, but that being said, we’re not going to stay the same. We’re going to move forward, and we’re going to get better. We’ve got to get players in there that are going to make plays. Even some older guys, I’m going to talk individually with that I know can play better, and if they don’t, we’re going to move on.”

On the growing pains Asafo-Adjei is facing… 
“Definitely some growing pains. You’re playing some dudes out there, you’re playing some young guys. On the road at South Carolina, at home against Florida, those guys can go, they can rush. We want to throw the ball and get the ball down field. You’ve got to protect. He’s going through some growing pains, but he’s also doing some very good things so I’m very pleased. I know he’ll get better and better.” 

On whether or not it’s easier for younger players to be able to forget mistakes and move on…
“I don’t know, I’m not sure. I hope so, we’ve got a lot of young guys. Young or old, we’ve got to move on. We talk about it every Monday with the team, we’re in there on Sunday, they’re in here on Monday. We’ll get it corrected and we’ll look to improve and we’ll move on. I don’t anticipate any lingering effects, or any hangover whatsoever. We’re doing a lot of good things and there are a lot of things we can do better.”

On Baker’s confidence and the importance of him making a big catch in the closing minutes of the game… 
“I think it’s important that he made that play, [for all of us and for him], because we know he’s capable of it. We expect big plays out of him. We can’t overthink the drops, because he doesn’t drop many, honestly but he has two big drops at the beginning of two games in a row.  I’ll get asked about it and he’ll get asked about it. Just have to deal with it and move on.”

On the overall health of both Kentucky and Missouri…
“We’re in pretty good shape and they seem to be in in pretty good shape. It’ll be a good game, it’ll be a hard-fought game. They’re a very well-coached team, I have a lot of respect for Gary Pinkel and what he’s done and the way his teams play. I’m excited about it. I ask the fans to come out again. I wanted to keep on winning in part to keep on packing this stadium. Let that not be an excuse. We want it full. I greatly appreciate everyone’s support. It has been a great environment. We’ll look to play a little better to give them a few more things to cheer about.”

On the attitude of the team, its confidence compared to the beginning of the season, and how the players prepare leading up to every matchup… 
“They play and they prepare to win every week. We have confidence in what we’re doing. I expect them to have the same confidence today that they had before the Florida game. We’re all disappointed in the outcome, and nobody is more disappointed than them and the coaching staff, but the good thing is that we were in a position to win the game, we just didn’t make the plays. It’s hard to play a clean game, it’s a long season. We’ll play better, our players have a good attitude, are working hard and we’re getting better, and we’re getting in a position to win games. You’re not going to do it all the time although we’ll strive to do it. We’re fine, our psyche is fine, their confidence is fine, so we’ll move on and get ready.”

On getting a win over a ranked Missouri team … 
“It’d be good. Any win is good, as you know. You all know it, and our fans know it, but wins are valuable. They are hard to come by. If they are ranked, great, but also because this team has won the (SEC) East and they are a good team.”

On if ‘program-building wins’ are important … 
“Sure. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t. That is why people are upset about the Florida game. They are tired of hearing about the streak. We just need to win. It doesn’t matter to me if they’ve won 28 in a row or one. Each win is valuable. I know it matters to the fans and I appreciate that. This win, this week, it is our opportunity to prepare for a great team and try to get a victory at home.”

On the offensive line last week vs. Florida … 
“There were a couple of pressures that we could’ve handled better. A lot of it was just speed and athleticism. They won too many one-on-ones for us to be successful.”

On starting freshman George Asafo-Adjei at right tackle … 
“Oh it’s hard. It is difficult. He’s never seen anything like that. It’s hard to simulate that. He’s going to get better and better, he’s done some good things, but it’s hard. Anytime you were to ask any coach about starting a true freshman at offensive tackle in this league, they would be a little bit alarmed. It’s not easy to do. I appreciate the effort that he is giving, he’s getting better and I’m proud of him and the way he’s working.”

On sophomore offensive tackle Kyle Meadows … 
“Kyle did some good things. Kyle will help us as we move forward.”

On if linebacker/end Alvonte Bell has a redshirt available … 
“He does. That is what we are working on. We’re preparing him. He’s practicing with us and he’s getting better. I don’t want to burn it if it’s just going to be very limited play.”

On the play of senior defensive tackle Cory Johnson … 
“Better. He’s doing some better things. He played pretty well.”

On the play of sophomore defensive tackle Regie Meant … 
“Regie was really doing some good things before he got hurt. Then he hurt that shoulder. That was a little bit disappointing because he is the type of guy that every time he takes the field and plays more he’s getting better and better. Just reps and playing, getting a feel for that game experience. He’s getting better and better.”

On creating new packages to get pressure on quarterback … 
“We are. Coach (D.J.) Eliot has done a nice job with creating somethings schematically to mix some things up. And doing the very best we can at trying to get some pressure and get creative at what we are doing.”

On freshman defensive tackle Adrian Middleton … 
“He’ll get some action again this week. He’s getting better. He’ll get more involved this week. It will be fun to get him out there, get him amped up and get him playing and coming along.”

On the process of working in youthful players into the rotation in close games … 
“It is funny as we talk throughout camp and we talk about depth and different guys. Then you get in these games and it is so darn tight, that it is tough (to play guys). We need to continue to push our young guys, develop them and get them game experience. We haven’t really played a lot of snaps – defensively that is a good thing – and offensively unfortunately we aren’t playing as many snaps as we’d like to. We need to continue to bring along some guys.”