Kentucky Center Jon Toth named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week

(Release by UK Media Relations)

“LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky sophomore center Jon Toth has been selected as the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week, it was announced by the SEC office Monday night, live on SEC Now on the SEC Network.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Toth was selected by the league office as the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for the first time in his career. Toth, a 6-foot-5, 301 pounder, graded at 91 percent in UK’s season-lidlifting win over UT Martin. He played without any penalties or missed assignments and did not surrender a sack, totaling three knockdown blocks.

Toth helped direct a potent UK offensive attack that generated 656 total yards vs. UT Martin, the fourth-highest total in UK single-game history. A member of the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2013, Toth helped the Wildcats rush for 234 yards and throw for 422 yards in the first career start for sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles.

Kentucky (1-0) will return to action on Saturday, hosting Ohio at 3:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPNU and will be broadcast live on the UK Sports Radio Network, with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel calling the action. Tickets are available online at UKfootballtix.com or by calling 859-257-1818.”

Weekly Press Conference Quotes: Mark Stoops Talks Ohio Bobcats

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On Monday Mark Stoops held his weekly media address, briefly discussing last Saturday’s game against UT Martin, and looking forward to this weekend’s tilt against the Ohio Bobcats.  You might remember that the last time Ohio made the trip to Commonwealth Stadium they left with one of their biggest wins in program history–and in the process–handed Kentucky one of the worst losses they have ever experienced.

Here are all the quotes from Mark Stoops on Monday (courtesy of UK-Media Relations):

COACH STOOPS: Going back to the UT Martin game, thought we did some good things. It was a good first step. Obviously we did a lot of good things. Very happy about the effort, the attitude. There’s also a lot to improve on. There’s a lot of things we can do better that we will do better.  But like I said, I thought the guys had a good mindset, their attitude was good. Really felt like the energy was good. That was good to see.  Offensively I thought we executed well. Patrick really threw the ball well. I think we had 14 explosive plays.  Defensively same thing. There were some moments. There were some individual efforts. A.J. Stamps in particular played exceptionally well. There’s some areas where we definitely need to improve. So it’s a starting point.

Q. (Question regarding Javess Blue and Braylon Heard’s status.)
COACH STOOPS: Right now we’re just treating them and seeing. This morning, felt better. We’ll see. I think there’s a good chance we could get them to play.

Q. (Question regarding how he defines explosive plays.)
COACH STOOPS: Offensively it’s runs over 10 (yards) and passes over 15. We had quite a few big plays. It depends on certain situations and what we’re in, as well.
Defensively, I felt like there was really some things I was disappointed in, to be honest with you. We need to get a few things straightened out defensively.

Q. (Question regarding Kendall Randolph.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, that was the ninth play he played when he came in on the sideline and caused that fumble for a touchdown. He has great energy. He plays fast. He’s fearless. We need to get him in the mix.

Q. (Question regarding defensive improvements.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, again, we were inconsistent. I think we went to eight or nine possessions with zero points, 150 yards. There were things there we could improve on.
There was some good, don’t get me wrong. There were some good things. But there were some things in the run game, some of our fits, just not striking people, being as violent as we need to be. So there’s a lot of areas to improve, and we will.
Like I say, there was some good. Anytime you go eight, nine possessions with 150 yards and zero points, you’ll take it. But there are still some things we fundamentally need to get better at.
After that I was very discouraged. We need to get some depth and we need some guys to step up and compete. To give up two touchdowns and a bunch of yards the last four possessions is something that we can’t do and we won’t do.

Q. (Question regarding areas on defense that he thought they’d play better than he expected.)
COACH STOOPS: I don’t know if there’s areas we played better than I thought we would have. I think there were some areas that we played like I thought we would. I don’t know about ‘better’.
Again, we had plenty of stops, had some turnovers, had some good hits out there, played physical at times. There were some good possessions. Just late in the game we were inconsistent.
I think part of that is guys were enthused and they were anxious to play. That first game, everybody was jacked up. It’s been a long off‑season. That’s the good thing. I want good energy. But then we have to maintain it. We have to come out of the locker room the second half and be a consistent football team.

Q. (Question regarding run defense.)
COACH STOOPS: Again, when we’re executing and doing the things we want to do well, we’re fine. The first unit, there were areas that we will improve on, just fundamental things. Some of that was good.
But there’s certainly areas we need to improve. And our depth is an issue. We need to put it all together, do some things. In this game I wanted to play very fundamental. I didn’t want to have to scheme a million different ways to stop them. Our guys need to learn how to play football, learn how to play blocks, learn how to have proper fits, learn how to do tackles and do the fundamental things.

Q. What did you think of the offensive line?
COACH STOOPS: I thought they did a good job. I was impressed with Kyle (Meadows). Kyle did a nice job. He was assignment sharp for a young guy. That was important because we know he’s a talented guy. A little bit inexperienced obviously making his first start. But he was assignment sharp, which was an area we were a little concerned about with him.
Then with Ramsey (Meyers) on the same side, Ramsey really did some good things as well. Ramsey is a guy that tries to be physical. He brings us a physical presence. So I was impressed with those two guys.

Q. (Question regarding Cole Mosier.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, he did. He’s a guy that we talked about a week ago. He is working his way into the rotation. He brings us a big, physical presence. He’s a big guy. He brings us a little punch. We’ll continue to look at him and he’ll continue to play.

Q. (Question regarding stepping up level of competition from FCS team to a FBS team.)
COACH STOOPS: It’s obviously going to be a much bigger challenge for us with Ohio. Looking forward to playing Ohio. Coach (Frank) Solich has been around for a long time and been extremely successful. He’s building a very consistent program there at Ohio. I believe they went to five straight bowl games. Very well coached, fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. They’re a team that’s not going to beat themselves. They’re just good and sound.
They return a tremendous amount of experience on defense, a bunch of guys that played very well a year ago. So they’re a good football team. A real challenge. I was very impressed with their quarterback. I believe that was his first start. He just was very poised, very good quarterback. He can run it and throw it.
We’ll have our hands full this week. The good thing is that I felt like, as I said after the game, it was a good game. Our team needed it. Our fans needed it. The whole deal just to go out and play well. Good news is there’s a lot of areas I think we’ll improve on.

Q. (Question regarding first‑time players thinking it will be easy after a big win.)
COACH STOOPS: That’s generally not a problem with me. If there’s anything, there’s one area I got to get them to continue to let it loose and play with that great energy like last week.
But, yeah, that won’t be a problem. It won’t be a pleasant film session today, I can promise you that (laughter).

Q. (Question regarding early season schedule)
COACH STOOPS: I like the way the schedule sets up. I think it’s good. We have a lot of young guys that we need to teach how to play football.

Q. Any new points of emphasis this week?
COACH STOOPS: Just more consistent. We still need to play faster defensively. There’s things we need to play quicker and trigger faster. We are somewhat inexperienced at linebacker and we’ve got to develop that quickly to get to where we want to be.

Q. (Question regarding if they will be behind in game planning this week in order to get some things cleaned up defensively.)
COACH STOOPS: It makes you think about how you’re going to balance it because you want them to play fast, want them to play fundamental. To be a great defense, you have to do those things.
We will improve. There’s things that we’ll get cleaned up quickly. We need to continue to move forward and put some more things in and have the ability to execute those things.

Q. (Question regarding if a player jumped out at him watching the film that didn’t when he was watching the game live from the field.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, both ways I think there was some guys that were trying to do too much. That is common in the first game on both sides of the ball. Just not being patient and we have to be very precise on both sides of the ball and then play with that great energy that we did.  Doing your job is most important. You could see some signs of some guys wanting to do too much.  On the other side, I think we see more depth as I talked about improvements in preseason camp, I think we saw some guys at receivers – some young guys – were very comfortable.  And some other guys too, I think Demarco (Robinson), he only had one catch but I think he played his tail off. He had great energy, he blocked, he was physical as he can be for that little guy. But he really played hard and played with good energy.  (Ryan) Timmons was very good with the ball in his hands. Again, we have to continue to work with him when he doesn’t have the ball on blocking and things like that.  The outside receivers, for the first time playing, were very physical and played hard. That was good to see. That is what we want is guys playing hard and being much more physical without the football.

Q: (Question regarding how good it was to see Blake Bone go over a defensive back to make a big catch.).
COACH STOOPS: It was very good to see. Sitting there during the game that part of it was fun for me to see plays like that and defensively see guys like A.J. (Stamps) read run/pass and pull the trigger and make a tackle.
As I said, those are good things to see and the way A.J. went up and got that ball, part of me was relieved that I know there are some playmakers coming up.

Q: (Question regarding what he means by his defense needing to play fast.)
COACH STOOPS: Just that we are very tentative at times. When thinks happen defensively and guys try to do a little too much. And you don’t know until you put on that film what is going on it puts some indecision on other guys out there playing. That’s not a good thing. We need to be more precise, need to be more physical at the point of attack and have our linebackers trigger him.

Q. Are you talking more about the first‑team guys?
COACH STOOPS: There’s a little bit of both. Later there were certainly some issues that we got to get fixed. Some of it, you saw it a year ago, I mean, we got guys right there. Fourth‑and‑13, that should be an interception, instead it goes on to be a touchdown. You’re not going to win a lot of games if you play like that. You got to go make a play.
But there’s enough of it to go around. First team, second team, third team.

Q. Is it hard to get them to play like a 0‑0 game when it’s 42‑0?
COACH STOOPS: We need to be mature enough and good enough and skilled enough to do it. We obviously weren’t.

Q. (Question regarding A.J. Stamps)
COACH STOOPS: He has the ability. He can run. He has great ball skills, as you saw. I think what impresses me most is that comfort level, the instincts he has. Sitting there when you have to read, when you’re in a run‑pass conflict, you’re sitting there reading it, you’re darn near 100% when you’re playing run or playing pass. Those are things that are very difficult to coach, all those minute little points.  You have to have some feel and some instincts at all positions, but certainly at safety.

Q. (Question regarding if he saw that in A.J. while recruiting him.)
COACH STOOPS: We saw a lot of good things when we recruited him. We loved him, had to work hard to get him. There were some good schools that saw that in him, as well. I’m awfully glad we won that battle because he helps us.

Q. (Question about aggravation after a win.)
COACH STOOPS: I am. But not to just get on the players after a win. Sometimes it’s more difficult after a loss. There’s just things that we have to get fixed, and we will. They’re not major. There’s things that we’ll get corrected today.

Q. Updates on Alexander Montgomery and Jeff Badet?
COACH STOOPS: Montgomery has been rehabbing, working his way in. He’s out there running quite a bit, cutting. He’s trying to get to a point where he can get on the field. Not sure when that will be.
Badet, we have an appointment this Thursday, so I don’t anticipate that he could play this week.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam.)
COACH STOOPS: Matt did some good things. Just like we’ve been talking about all practice. How you practice is how you play. There are times when he was inconsistent, times when he got high, times when he played very well and was dominant and disruptive in there. Just got to continue to work to get him better.

Q. (Question regarding how the tackles have played on the outside when they go to a three-man front.)
COACH STOOPS: They’ve done a nice job playing a little bit at the end, at the four technique we call it, inside the tackle there. It gives us some size there. They’ve done a nice job in playing that technique.
So we’ve got to continue to just fundamentally get better in a lot of areas. But we’re getting there. We’ll be all right.

Q. (Question regarding Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree’s play.)
COACH STOOPS: I saw a couple instances when they were trying to do too much, and that’s bound to happen when you have guys that want to be playmakers and they want to do is what they can do, make big plays. But you have to do that within the scheme.  Nothing earth shattering or anything like that. Nothing we can’t get corrected. Simple little things that we’ll get fixed.

Q. Is that not having enough faith in the guys around him?
COACH STOOPS: I think amped up and wanting to do well. They’re very unselfish players. You have to be to play defensive line. I think that’s not going to be an issue. I think they just wanted to do some good things, and fundamentally got a little bit irresponsible.

Q. (Question regarding Patrick with the offense.)
COACH STOOPS: More plays? Yeah, I mean, I think Neal did a very good job of in the opener. What we’ve got to continue to watch is kind of zeroing in on what we’re doing because we got a lot of young guys. Not so much Patrick. I think he can handle more. He’s been around for a while. With playing that many freshmen wide receivers, some young guys on the O‑line, you got to be careful about doing too much. I thought he did a very good job of putting together a nice game plan, something they were able to execute.  So that will be a little bit of a balancing act as we move forward. Certainly there will always be some new things, though.

Q. (Question regarding if they don’t show the whole playbook in a game that they have under control.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, the only thing that maybe it set you back a little bit was getting reset there and really let him open it up. You don’t want to be disrespectful at that point. That’s the only thing that hurt us a little bit. You wanted to let him go out there, and that was the plan. We wanted to get Patrick a couple series in the second half, then go with Reese. Patrick needs the experience, too. He needed to go play. So we just got to continue to get better.
Then, again, defensively it doesn’t help us when we’re trying to back off the ones and some important twos, and you’re scoring either quickly or going three‑and‑out quickly, only once or twice, then we get a fumble recovery, so you’re right back on the field.  Statistically it’s not always going to be pretty. But I hope we’re in that situation. I hope we’re up a whole bunch and the defense has to be up there, we score quickly. But statistically it’s not always going to look pretty, I promise you that. I think the longest drive (for UK) was three minutes. That’s an awful lot of possessions. Don’t look for great statistics defensively. Poor Coach Eliot, he’s got to go out there about every minute. It’s tough that way.

Q. (Question regarding special teams, kickoffs.)
COACH STOOPS: I think he (Austin MacGinnis) tried to overkick one. Other than that, he was very good. After he tried to overkick it, we said, Hey, go do what you do. Don’t worry about it, loosen up. He hit it. He looked a little bit nervous on his field goals. When we had it down there, normal situation, I may go for that. But I wanted to get him a field goal. I didn’t want to go into this week without him making one.

Q. What went wrong on the one miss?
COACH STOOPS: You’d have to ask coach (Naivar). I’m not sure. I don’t mess with those guys too much (laughter). It’s just like the golf swing. I did tell him on the kickoffs, he was trying to hit it too hard. Just loosen it up, go hit it.

Q. What did you think of the crowd?
COACH STOOPS: I thought it was good. I know it was hot. I appreciate everybody coming. I know we have some obstacles with all the construction going on. I just greatly appreciate the support. Seemed like they were very enthusiastic early on. Appreciate it and encourage to keep everybody coming because we’re getting better. Our team appreciates them being there and some good things are ahead of us.

Q. (Question regarding how important it is to have game film to teach off of for the freshmen.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think it’s very important because you never really know how somebody’s going to respond to a game‑like situation. There were some very good things and then there were some things that we will get corrected. Even things, run plays, things people don’t see to the naked eye, till you put on the film, just being disciplined, staying with the reads, the progressions.  Young guys, they’re so eager sometimes to just make a play, they forget all the fundamental issues. That doesn’t change overnight. It’s not going to change between week one and week two. We will get better, but it’s still going to be a work in progress.

Q. Is the locker room any different at 1‑0?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah. I thought the guys’ mentality was good all week. All through camp, I’ve told you they’ve been working, they’ve been a fun group to coach. I thought game week guys were excited. We felt the energy going up. I felt the guys were really ready to play. For a noon game, they were ready to go. Just like I said afterwards, I mean, I hope that’s always the case.
I’d rather have to have them calmed down a little bit than to have to get them amped up to play. They were excited and ready to go, now we just have to be consistent.

Q. (Question regarding Khalid Henderson handling the challenge of competition at his position.)
COACH STOOPS: He has. He handled it very well. Khalid has a lot of pride, worked extremely hard, wants to win that job. He has a competition going on there. But Khalid handled it very well and said he’s going to go out there, take care of his business and try to improve. Khalid did some good things, Ryan (Flannigan) did some good things, and they both made some mistakes as well.  I think with Ryan, you see the wheels turning a little bit. As you get into playing games, you’re playing an opponent that’s adjusting, we need to adjust. That’s where experience comes in and all that because in camp it’s hard to simulate all that offensively, defensively. We’re not always playing to win the drill, we’re playing to fundamentally get better.  Now you start getting into the opponents, and they’re adjusting and tweaking things, and we have to do that as well. That’s where inexperience really hurts you, especially at that position.

Q. (Question regarding depth chart changes.)
COACH STOOPS: No. Depending on how these injuries play out during the week, we’ll let you know as we go. With ankles, Jim (athletic trainer Jim Madaleno) likes to tell me, Give me 48 hours to see how they respond. So we’ll see how that plays out with the ankles. Jim felt like today most of the guys with the ankles felt better. Braylon would be a question mark, I’d say. He’s the one that was still a little sore.

Q. (Question regarding if he has a relationship with Ohio’s head coach.)
COACH STOOPS: Not too much. Just from being in the business a long time, crossing paths once when a while. I know he’s a great person. I know some friends that worked for him, loved working for him. We had an opportunity to play them way back when for a national championship when I was at Miami. We competed against each other.
I just have a lot of respect for him because he’s been around a long time, doing things right for a long time, and obviously winning. It will be a fun opportunity and a big challenge.

Q. (Question regarding if this game means more to him because Coach Stoops is from Ohio.)
COACH STOOPS: You know how desperately we need wins (laughter). I’d take them against anybody, so… They’re all important, I don’t really look at it that way.

Q. (Question regarding young running backs.)
COACH STOOPS: Some good things and some bad things. It was certainly good to see the talent. They’re going to be everything we thought they were going to be. Nice thing, Mikel (Horton), he made one bad read early, came back, ran it very well after that. Got a little anxious with his first carry, a little bit undisciplined. After that he came back and ran exceptionally well. Then made somebody miss, got in the end zone, really ran the ball well. So that was good. I think Boom (Williams) will get better. Boom is a very talented guy. Mentally he needs to push himself a little bit and we’ll help him there.

Q. (Question regarding Ohio being fundamental.)
COACH STOOPS: Absolutely. You got to be very sound in what you do. All these teams we play. UT Martin was a well coached football team. You saw them executing in that second half, the last four possessions. Give them credit as well. They made some plays. It wasn’t just us. There’s things we need to do better and will do better, but they did some good things. We were trying to stop them. They executed and did a nice job.  So with Ohio, they’re obviously more talented, have some great experience. They’re good football players, they really are. Five straight bowl games, return eight starters on defense, a team that plays sound, good, tough football. They’re not going to give you things easy. You have to go earn them.

Q. (Question regarding better to make corrections after a win than after a loss.)
COACH STOOPS: Absolutely. It’s definitely easier to be hard on the guys and be critical. The good things, we’ll praise them for them as well. There was a lot of good. There’s just a lot of things we know we need to get better at.

Q. (Question regarding upsets each week in college football.)
COACH STOOPS: There’s no doubt. You have heard me say it before. My team, myself, we definitely can’t take anybody for granted. We’re at that stage where we need to play well no matter who we’re playing. This is a good football team (we’re playing), so ….

Q. (Question regarding Coach Solich and Ohio adjusting its offense in recent years.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, you don’t stick around that long unless you don’t adapt, always be willing to grow and try some different things. But you still see the fundamental principles of him. That’s tough, well coached football. That’s why he’s been around a long time and been successful.  That game a year ago, the bowl game against East Carolina, East Carolina is a good football team. That was a great game with Ohio and ECU. We’ll have our hands full.  It ultimately comes down to us, what we’re going to do. We need to improve. That’s why I say no matter who we’re playing, we’re really not worried about the opponent. We’re really worried about ourselves and getting better.  But that’s what’s fun about it. That’s what’s encouraging, that I know we will get better. Guys will go back to work. We’ll look at this film. There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad. That’s what’s enjoyable about it.

Q. (Question regarding Jaleel Hytchye.)
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I’d like to see him make that play at the end of the game. Has a chance to make an interception, instead we give up 7 points. He’ll continue to work and get better.

Kentucky-UT Martin: Post-Game Notes/Stats

Courtesy of UK Athletics-Media Relations:

Team Notes:

  • UK’s 59-14 win marked its most points scored since hanging 63 on Western Kentucky in 2010.
  • UK’s 45-point margin of victory was its most since a 77-17 win over UTEP in 2002.
  • Kentucky finished with six rushing touchdowns, its most in a game since vs. Kent State in 2007.
  • Kentucky finished with 656 yards of total offense, which was the fourth greatest single-game total in school-history. UK finished with 675 yards of total offense vs. Miami (Ohio) last season for the third-highest total in school history
  • UK forced five turnovers; it’s most since 2008 vs. Louisville. UK has forced four turnovers on four occasions since 2008.
  • UK had two interceptions, its most since picking off two passes at Missouri in 2012.
  • UK had 201 rushing yards out of players that did not play in 2013, marking 86-percent of its rushing output in the game.
  • All 422 yards of UK’s passing game came from quarterbacks that did not see game action last year.
  • UK’s 446 yards in the first half was more than 11 of UK’s 12 games last year.
  • Six of UK’s eight tackles for loss and all three forced fumbles were caused by players who didn’t see game action in 2013.
  • UK finished with 21 points off turnovers.
  • The Wildcats finished with 422 yards passing, marking its best passing output since throwing for 430 yards in a 2007 game vs. Tennessee in four overtimes.
  • The last time UK threw for over 422 yards in a regulation game was when it threw for 450 yards in a win over Vanderbilt in 2006.
  • UK forced and recovered three fumbles, marking its most fumbles recovered since three at Georgia in 2011.

 

Individual Notes:

  • Sophomore QB Patrick Towles had a sparkling debut in his first career start, going 20-for-29 for 377 yards and one TD.
  • Towles also rushed for his first career TD, a career-long 23-yard rush, finishing with three rushes for 30 yards.
  • With 407 total yards of offense, Towles had the second-most yards from scrimmage for a UK quarterback making his first career start, just behind the 409 yards Dusty Bonner had in a 1999 game with Louisville.
  • Kentucky QBs, since 1996, have a 5-6 record in their first career starts.
  • Towles threw for his second career TD, a 29-yard pass to Blake Bone.
  • It marked Towles first TD pass since Oct. 6, 2012 vs. Mississippi State.
  • Towles is the first UK QB to throw for 300+ yards since Maxwell Smith vs Miami (Ohio) in 2013.
  • Junior RB Braylon Heard rushed for a 73-yard touchdown on his first career touch for the Wildcats.
  • It marked the longest rush for UK since Jalen Whitlow scampered 88 yards for a touchdown vs. Alabama State in 2013.
  • On Heard’s second career rush, he took it 43 yards for a touchdown.
  • Heard finished with 116 yards on just two carries.
  • Several Wildcats made their first career starts, including TE Steven Borden, QB Patrick Towles, OG Ramsey Meyers and OT Kyle Meadows on offense and LB Josh Forrest, S A.J. Stamps and DT Melvin Lewis on defense.
  • Freshman RB Stanley “Boom” Williams opened the game with a kickoff return for 24 yards. Williams rushed it three times for eight yards.
  • Freshman WR Garrett Johnson notched his first career catch. He finished with three catches for 25 yards.
  • DE Za’Darius Smith, OT Jordan Swindle and S Ashely Lowery made their team-leading 13th consecutive starts.
  • Sophomore RB Jojo Kemp totaled his fourth career rushing touchdown. Kemp finished with eight rushes for 31 yards and one TD.
  • Junior S A.J. Stamps recorded UK’s first interception of the year with a one-handed snag in the second quarter.
  • Stamps finished with a game-tying eight tackles and a tackle for loss.
  • Sophomore WR Ryan Timmons totaled three catches for 75 yards.
  • Senior WR Javess Blue caught two balls for 42 yards.
  • Senior WR Demarco Robinson hauled in a 79-yard catchl-and-run from Towles, a career-long.
  • Junior CB Fred Tiller notched his seventh and eighth career pass break ups and charted his first career interception.
  • Freshman WR Blake Bone hauled in a 29-yard touchdown on his first collegiate touch.
  • Bone finished with two catches for 65 yards.
  • Freshman PK Austin MacGinnis was 1-for-2 in his first career field-goal attempts, connecting on a 20-yard field goal.
  • MacGinnis had seven touchbacks in his 10 kickoffs.
  • Freshman WR Dorian Baker notched his first three career catches, totaling 29 yards.
  • Senior DT Mike Douglas notched his fourth career sack. He now has sacks in each season of his UK career.
  • Freshman RB Mikel Horton rushed for an 18-yard touchdown on his fourth career carry.
  • Horton finished with seven rushes for 46 yards.
  • Junior LB Khalid Henderson returned a fumble for 89 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
  • It marked the first fumble recovery for a touchdown since Demarco Robinson recovered a fumble in the end zone in 2013 vs. Alabama State.
  • It marked UK’s first defensive fumble recovery for a touchdown since Tristan Johnson in 2012 a 25-yard return for a TD vs. Samford.
  • Henderson and Stamps tied for the team lead with eight tackles.
  • Freshman CB Kendall Randolph forced a fumble in his collegiate debut.
  • Senior TE Ronnie Shields notched two catches for 18 yards, giving him 14 catches in his career.
  • Junior RB Josh Clemons rushed it for the first time since 2011 after missing the last two seasons due to injury.
  • Freshman QB Reese Phillips saw his first career action, completing 2-of-4 passes for 45 yards.
  • Sophomore J.D. Harmon, a native of Paducah, Kentucky, finished with six tackles, two tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.
  • It marked Harmon’s first career forced fumble.
  • Harmon returned his first career kick, a 26-yard return in the fourth quarter.
  • Freshman DT Regie Meant finished with four tackles, two sacks and one fumbled forced in his collegiate debut.
  • Junior LB Ryan Flannigan finished with six tackles in his UK debut.
  • Junior DE Jabari Johnson recovered his first career fumble.
  • Junior P Landon Foster punted it once for 46 yards.
  • Foster has now punted 130 times in his career, with a 42.1 yard average.

Video: Game week: Stoops previews UT-Martin at Monday press conference

 

Here is a complete transcript of the Q&A session at today’s (Monday) press conference:

 

Mark Stoops’ opening statement: It’s exciting. Finally game week. Players are excited. Coaches are excited. You know, ready to get this season going. As I said before throughout this summer, we’ve improved. Be interesting to go out there and see how much. I’m just as anxious as you are to get out there and get playing. It will be great to play a season opener.  How long has it been, Tony? How many years since we played a home opener? 2007. That will be good.  UT Martin is a good football team, well‑coached team. Four returning starters on the offensive line. We’ll have our hands full. We’re anxious to get out there and see how we can play.

Q. re: Darrian Miller off the depth chart.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah. He’s going to have to sit one game. Violation of team rules. He’ll be back game two.

Q. (Question regarding if Stoops is disappointed in Darrian because he was looked at as a leader.)
COACH STOOPS: It happened some time ago. We’ve addressed the situation. He’s done what he needed to do. He’ll be back in good standing after one game.

Q. How do you feel going into year two?
COACH STOOPS: You feel a lot better. You feel a lot more confident.
But as I said, I think even as an assistant throughout all these years, you’re always anxious to get out there in the first game, see what you have, where you are. I know we’ve improved. We’ll see how much.

Q. (Question regarding Kyle Meadows.)
COACH STOOPS: I feel good about Kyle. Be good to get him out there and see what he can do. Jordan Swindle will do good on the left side.

Q. (Question about Bud Dupree being listed with the linebackers.)
COACH STOOPS: It varies. We just listed it that way this year. Depends on the personnel they start with.

Q. (Question regarding Bud being listed with the linebackers because the staff wanted to get Jason Hatcher on the field.)
COACH STOOPS: That’s going to be a big part of it. We wanted to get Jason on the field a year ago. He went through some good growing pains. He’s getting better. He’s a good football player. That is part of it, to get him on the field.

Q. A lot of new kids this year, just like last year. You have a lot of leadership. Easier to get things down than it was a year ago?
COACH STOOPS: Definitely. Always more comfortable year two with implementing the offense and defense. We went through a transition last year in‑season, as you know, going some more three down. It was good to have a whole off‑season, see what we did well. Players are more comfortable. Coaches are. I feel good about that.

Q. Will Demarco Robinson play this week?
COACH STOOPS: He will. Demarco is in good standing. He paid his price. He was suspended the last two games of last season. He met the obligations he needed to. He’s back in good standing and will be back in game one. There will be one other person, Rashad Cunningham will have to sit one game, as well.

Q. Do you do anything to get the young guys ready for the bright lights?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think they just need to go through it. We put them in pressure situations all through camp. We just got to throw them out there and see what they can do.
I expect them to go out and play well. Some of the wide receivers will be forced into action. I want to say we have four redshirt freshmen that will play on the O‑line, four true freshmen will play at wide receiver.

Q. (Question regarding Alex Montgomery.)
COACH STOOPS: Alex is out. He’s injured. He’ll be out for some time.

Q. (Question regarding how Patrick has responded.)
COACH STOOPS: He responded well. He was trying to be a good leader. When you’re in a quarterback battle, that’s tough to do sometimes. Think the comfort level of himIt’s exciting. Finally game week. Players are excited. Coaches are excited. You know, ready to get this season going.
As I said before throughout this summer, we’ve improved. Be interesting to go out there and see how much. I’m just as anxious as you are to get out there and get playing. It will be great to play a season opener.
How long has it been, Tony? How many years since we played a home opener? 2007. That will be good.
UT Martin is a good football team, well‑coached team. Four returning starters on the offensive line. We’ll have our hands full. We’re anxious to get out there and see how we can play.

Q. re: Darrian Miller off the depth chart.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah. He’s going to have to sit one game. Violation of team rules. He’ll be back game two.

Q. (Question regarding if Stoops is disappointed in Darrian because he was looked at as a leader.)
COACH STOOPS: It happened some time ago. We’ve addressed the situation. He’s done what he needed to do. He’ll be back in good standing after one game.

Q. How do you feel going into year two?
COACH STOOPS: You feel a lot better. You feel a lot more confident.
But as I said, I think even as an assistant throughout all these years, you’re always anxious to get out there in the first game, see what you have, where you are. I know we’ve improved. We’ll see how much.

Q. (Question regarding Kyle Meadows.)
COACH STOOPS: I feel good about Kyle. Be good to get him out there and see what he can do. Jordan Swindle will do good on the left side.

Q. (Question about Bud Dupree being listed with the linebackers.)
COACH STOOPS: It varies. We just listed it that way this year. Depends on the personnel they start with.

Q. (Question regarding Bud being listed with the linebackers because the staff wanted to get Jason Hatcher on the field.)
COACH STOOPS: That’s going to be a big part of it. We wanted to get Jason on the field a year ago. He went through some good growing pains. He’s getting better. He’s a good football player. That is part of it, to get him on the field.

Q. A lot of new kids this year, just like last year. You have a lot of leadership. Easier to get things down than it was a year ago?
COACH STOOPS: Definitely. Always more comfortable year two with implementing the offense and defense. We went through a transition last year in‑season, as you know, going some more three down. It was good to have a whole off‑season, see what we did well. Players are more comfortable. Coaches are. I feel good about that.

Q. Will Demarco Robinson play this week?
COACH STOOPS: He will. Demarco is in good standing. He paid his price. He was suspended the last two games of last season. He met the obligations he needed to. He’s back in good standing and will be back in game one. There will be one other person, Rashad Cunningham will have to sit one game, as well.

Q. Do you do anything to get the young guys ready for the bright lights?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think they just need to go through it. We put them in pressure situations all through camp. We just got to throw them out there and see what they can do.
I expect them to go out and play well. Some of the wide receivers will be forced into action. I want to say we have four redshirt freshmen that will play on the O‑line, four true freshmen will play at wide receiver.

Q. (Question regarding Alex Montgomery.)
COACH STOOPS: Alex is out. He’s injured. He’ll be out for some time.

Q. (Question regarding how Patrick has responded.)
COACH STOOPS: He responded well. He was trying to be a good leader. When you’re in a quarterback battle, that’s tough to do sometimes. Think the comfort level of him trying to be the leader, trying to lead the offense has helped him. Getting some guys back healthy is good. Javess Blue has been back healthy out there for a few days. That helps as well.

Q. Home opener for the first time since 2007. Is there value in that?
COACH STOOPS: I definitely think so. Just playing at home in the opener is exciting to me. I know our fans are ready to go. We need to do our part. I know we’ll have great support. We need to go out there and start fast and play good football, play with great energy, play with great discipline, make it exciting for the fans.

Q. A lot of teams in this league don’t get to play their first two games at home. How important is that?
COACH STOOPS: I think it’s real important, I do. I think we need to start fast. We need to go out and play well. Like I said, we’ve talked a lot. Coach Spurrier always says it best: In the talking season, we talk a lot.
We’ve improved. Our football team has worked hard. We’ll see where we’re at. I know we’re going to play better. It will be good to see these young guys get out there and play, see how we’ve improved, see the veterans, guys like Bud and Z, see them come out and see how much they’ve improved. It will be good to play at home.

Q. You have a lot of young kids playing for the first time. How do you keep these guys calm?
COACH STOOPS: That’s part of the unknown that I say we’ll see and how you respond from year to year. Certainly with young guys, some guys are going to go out there for the first time and they’re going to exceed our expectations, then some guys will probably have some rough spots here and there, have some mental mistakes, physical mistakes, things like that.
That’s why you have to get out there and play. There’s no substitution for experience. You got to get them out there, get them on the field, and get them playing. We tried to put them in as many game‑like situations as we could. We try to prepare them the best we can with all different situations. Had a good camp. Put them through a lot of tests. We’ll see how they go play.

Q. What do you know about UT Martin?
COACH STOOPS: They have a great defensive player, No. 40 (Tony Bell), the linebacker, an exceptional player. He’s a really good football player. He can play anywhere in the country. Really like the way he plays.
Like I said, I think they’re a well‑coached team. They’re very multiple on both sides of the ball, can do a lot of things. You got to be prepared for a lot, which is good for us to spend that time getting ready for a variety of offensive or defensive schemes.
I think they’re the type of team, it’s a little unknown. They might get out there and try to pressure the heck out of us, or drop (several in coverage). They’ve shown both, where they’ve been conservative and drop eight guys into coverage a bunch, or they can blitz the house and come after you.
I imagine we’ll see a bit of everything. It will be good for us to see how we prepare and respond to that.

Q. (Question regarding Stanley “Boom” Williams playing time.)
COACH STOOPS: He’s going to start at kickoff return. He’s a guy I will be excited to see him with the ball in his hands. He definitely is a difference maker.
Same with Mikel. Mikel Horton is the same way. I think he’s a guy that I want to see run the ball in the first game and see where we’re at.
We do have the luxury of having some depth at running back, so we got to get those guys the ball.

Q. (Question regarding the defense picking up blitz packages.)
COACH STOOPS: They’re getting there. They’re getting to the point where we trust them, where they can operate the whole offense.

Q. (Question regarding reps at running back.)
COACH STOOPS: Braylon and Jojo. We list those guys. We look at them as starters. We may start in a package with both of them.

Q. (Question regarding Ryan Flannigan and Khalid Henderson at linebacker.)
COACH STOOPS: They both will play. We’ll see how practice goes this week. They’ll both play. They both have done a nice job.

Q. What do you think of Patrick, to be able to go out and win the quarterback job?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it was real important. As I’ve said, I think you’ve got to look at Patrick and be proud for him, the way he’s responded to the situation.
A year ago, you know, he came out of camp at this time, he was third on the depth chart. He just looked at it, what can he do to improve. Like I said, he just went out and battled, got better over the year, came out this year, flipped the script, came out of it number one.
He has an opportunity. I have a lot of confidence in him. I appreciate the way he’s gone about his business. I think our team has. He has this opportunity now.
He needs to make the most of it.

Q. (Question regarding Demarco handling punt returns.)
COACH STOOPS: He is. We’re still grooming Timmons. As I said before, I think you’ll see both of them in the first game. Demarco has done it for a while, has experience. He’s comfortable catching the ball. His decision making is better than most just from experience. We’ll continue to get Timmons involved, as well.

Q. You’re down three receivers this week, but numbers‑wise do you feel you can use those four wideouts?
COACH STOOPS: I do. I feel better. We were discussing our depth chart over the weekend and early this morning. We do feel good about the wide receiver position.
I feel like if we are in a four wide receiver set, we do feel we’re two deep. Maybe not as experienced as you’d like to be still at certain spots there, but talent‑wise we’re getting to the point where those are the guys we’re looking for. You just need to continue to get better, keep on working, see who goes out there and make the plays.

Q. What do they (UT Martin) do offensively?
COACH STOOPS: They do a little bit of everything. They can put an extra tackle in and play him at tight end. They may try to get big and run the ball a little bit. They’ve done that certain games. They get into what we call a 20‑personnel look, like our offense, like a lot of people do, that H back off, do a variety of things. They get into a little bit of the quarterback run game stuff.
There’s a lot to prepare for. It will be good for us. There’s a lot of things we’re familiar with, that we see from our offense as well, even if it’s just the sets, things like that, from 11 or 20 looks. 20 looks is just two backs, three wide receivers.
We’ll see a lot of things from them, I’m sure. Like anybody, the first game, they’ve had a long time to make some tweaks and adjust some things. So you never really know in that first game. They could come out and emphasize something we haven’t seen much of. But that’s where all the practice and preparation comes. Whether they’re empty sets, big sets, whatever, we’ve worked it all.

Q. Question about your team. What have they got to do better?
COACH STOOPS: I just think consistency. We’ve got to go play well and be consistent. We’re not good enough to make simple mistakes and shoot ourselves in the foot, turn the ball over, things like that obviously.
We want to be very consistent. We want to pick up our tempo offensively and continue to grow and move the ball like we want to move the ball.
We talk about our running backs and things like that. Of course, I’ve always said that, Neal has always said that. We’ve never given anybody any false indication of what we want to be offensively. We want to be balanced. Of course, that means we need to throw the ball better than we did a year ago also. We need to grow offensively and do what we want to do that way.
Defensively, again, be more consistent. We need to get more turnovers. We certainly need to get more interceptions. Just be a more consistent group.
Fundamentally we’re getting much closer to where we want to be, especially up front. I think in the secondary we’re getting better. We just need some play‑makers to step up.

Q. (Question regarding run versus passing.)
COACH STOOPS: That’s going to vary week‑to‑week. We always want to be close to 50/50. You look at UT Martin, they were very balanced a year ago as well. They want to be balanced. Any defensive guy will tell you that, the most difficult offenses to stop are the balanced ones.

Q. (Question regarding UT Martin quarterback Dylan Favre reminding Coach of Dylan’s uncle, Brett Favre.)
COACH STOOPS: He does. He’s a good football player. Split time last year. They’re both good football players. So you could certainly see the talent there. Some of those throws and plays he makes are fun to watch. I just hope I don’t see those next week (laughter).

Q. One running back I haven’t heard about is (Josh) Clemons. Is he in a similar situation as Maxwell Smith? Injury really set him back?
COACH STOOPS: It did set him back. Part of it, he’s worked extremely hard. Really appreciate Josh, the work he’s done. He’s had some tough luck. We’ve tried to be very smart with him and he can only handle so much throughout spring and through camp.
We tried to just practice him every other practice to save his legs and save his knee. He did get into a live scrimmage, and honestly he got tweaked up there in that scrimmage. There’s that fine line of getting him game‑ready and not.
With him being on the sidelines, I’m sure it gave reps to those young guys that are very talented and very good football players.
He will have a role. We’ve got to continue to push for that and get him in there. He’s a big, strong guy that has some unique skill sets that can help us. We’ve got to try to use him.
As at any position, we’ll see how things go. We’ll see who emerges and who really plays well.

Q. You talked about UT Martin. Are you a coach that likes to open the playbook or…
COACH STOOPS: We’ve got to do everything necessary to play at a high level. With any game plan, you got to take whatever you’re going to emphasize that week and run with it on both sides of the ball.
But we will try to play as best we can and do everything we can. We can’t take anything for granted, you know that. It’s just not where we’re at. The state of our program, we have to go out and play the very best we can each and every snap. Whatever we have to do to play well on both sides of the ball, special teams, we’ll do that.

Q. (Question about the secondary.)
COACH STOOPS: Very comfortable with him. I love the way he plays. I love his instincts. He’s the type of guy, you correct him once, he generally never makes the same mistake twice. Really like the way he’s been playing.
As I’ve said before, that’s a position where we drastically needed to improve, and I believe we did.

Q. What do you know about Coach Simpson?
COACH STOOPS: You know, I’m not very familiar with him, to be honest with him. I know he’s been here for some time, maybe eight, nine years. From Mississippi. I believe he played at Southern Miss. I don’t know him well.

Q. Darryl Long going to redshirt?
COACH STOOPS: That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we plan on doing right now.

Q. How did he take that?
COACH STOOPS: He was good. A lot of the freshmen were good with it. They see it. Like I told you during some press conferences during camp, they get out here, you know, they’re very talented football players. It’s difficult. We’re getting better. As we get better, it gets harder to beat out some guys for playing time.
That’s what you want in our program. Some positions we don’t have that luxury. At wide receiver, we have to (indiscernible) these guys with a firehose because we need players. It’s just where we’re at.
It’s difficult. That’s two years in a row we’ve had to do that on the offensive side of the ball. Tell you this, if you had to do that on defense, I got very little hair left, but I think it would all be gone (laughter).
It’s hard. So many things change. You got to keep on moving as a program. It’s good to have them supplement you and add some depth in certain spots. Some guys you can bring along. If you’re playing a whole mass group of them, you’re going to have a hard time.

Q. Is there a plan to give Reese Phillips a series here or there?
COACH STOOPS: That’s the plan right now. We’ll get into that honestly as we get through this week. I think I’d love to play him. Off the top of my head, I’d love to play him.
But you know and I know Patrick needs the reps. We’ve got to get out there, get better, move this program forward. We’ll see how that goes. But to answer your question, I’d be very disappointed if he didn’t play in this game.

Q. (Question regarding Cole Mosier.)
COACH STOOPS: Really impressed with him. He’s really done a nice job. We liked him a year ago. He redshirted. We liked him in the spring. He’s a very big guy. He’s physical. He will play in this game. He’s battling for playing time on the inside.
I’m anxious to see him play and see how he does.

Q. (Question regarding Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith’s impact.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, it’s really important for those two to come back. As I said a lot through the off‑season, leadership is the first thing that jumps out at you. But also confidence. Our players see those guys out there, they make plays, are consistent, they’re always there. They’re great to have.
You know I’m pretty tight with my compliments. You know that over the course of the year and a half. I’m really conservative when it comes to complimenting guys until they’ve proved it and earned it. I probably haven’t complimented those guys enough, to be honest with you. They are tremendous football players, great leaders. They’re going to be great pros.

Q. What is the single hardest thing for a true freshman thrown out there for the first time?
COACH STOOPS: Just how fast the game moves. Even in practice, we have so many reps. If they make a mistake, they certainly hear about it, but it’s on to the next play.
You get in the game, things happen even faster. That’s where the experience comes in. With experience, the game slows down for them. I think that’s what you see. Like I said earlier, I think you’ll see some guys respond to it very well, and you’ll see some guys make some silly mistakes.

Q. Do you think Neal has that first offensive series scripted?
COACH STOOPS: Not yet. We’re working on it. Pressing him on that this morning (laughter).
We’re working through that. We’ll see what package we want to feature, where we want to go right out of the gate.

Q. How important will it be to get Patrick comfortable early?
COACH STOOPS: It’s certainly important for Patrick to get off to a fast start, and for our team to get off to a fast start. No hiding from that. It’s important for him to play well. He will. He’s going to make a lot of good plays and I’m sure he’ll make a few bad ones as well.

Q. You and Neal and D.J. said last year, people focus on the great plays, but you need to have good plays stacked on top of each other. How close are you to getting that now compared to last year?
COACH STOOPS: Much closer. Then it comes to the big plays, and that’s where we still need to grow. I think if you watch college football, you see these great teams, great teams in this league, very well‑coached, then it comes down to some guys making some plays a lot of times as well.
You need play‑makers to emerge.

Q. (Question regarding UT Martin’s Tony Bell.)
COACH STOOPS: He’s a great linebacker, but he’s a great pass‑rusher as well. Like Bud in that area. Bud is an outside backer, obviously much bigger. But he’s like Bud in that he’s comfortable on his feet, got great instincts, he’s an extremely good pass‑rusher.
He’s a mismatch for some people on the edge.

Q. You said things like Patrick has this opportunity now to play well, start fast.
COACH STOOPS: Don’t go there (laughter). I’m going to cut you off. I know where you’re going.
He has the keys. You heard me say that before. He’s going to go through some ups and downs. That’s anybody at any position.
We never guarantee anything except an opportunity, so… He’s not on a short leash. He won the job. He is the starting quarterback.

Q. You’ve been around a lot of NFL players. Where could you possibly see Bud and Za’Darius going in the draft? I know you’re not focused on that, but…
COACH STOOPS: I’d be very shocked if Bud was not a first‑round draft pick. He’s got to play his way into it, have the opportunity to be a high pick. I truly believe that. You know I’ve been around a lot of great ones. A lot of linebackers recently at Florida State.
Za’Darius the same thing. He could have gone a year ago, a little lower, but has a chance to play himself up into a high draft pick. First couple rounds.
They’re both very talented. But Bud is special. He has that ability to play standing up. Put his hand in the dirt. He’s a pass‑rusher. He’s got instincts. With everybody going to a lot of the 3‑4 things, outside backers, versatility, he’s a very good player.

Q. (Question regarding if he was surprised that Bud was preseason second-team All-SEC and not first team.)
COACH STOOPS: I am. Yeah, I was. That’s one of the reasons I think I’m conservative with my praising of guys. I don’t need to be with him. He comes to work every day. He loves being here. If he was worried about that, he would have left a year ago.
He wanted to come back, play himself up into a high pick. He wanted to lead this team. He had unfinished business. I love everything about him, the way he goes about his business. He’s not worried about anything except getting better this year.

Q. (Question regarding captains.)
COACH STOOPS: Last year I was unsure. We changed them up throughout the year. As you saw a year ago, Avery was a staple out there. We’ll see how that goes in the next couple weeks.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam.)
COACH STOOPS: He’s made it through camp. He’s getting better every day. He’s about where I thought he would be. He’s a talented football player that the sky’s the limit. We need to continue to develop him fundamentally, not just shape, but fundamentally he’s got to play better. He’s got to be lower, play more consistent.
What I love about him, it’s not easy, it’s not been easy, he has a good attitude about it. He’s got his ups and downs like all freshmen. But he’s really trying to fight through it, wants to be a good player. He needs to stay extremely dedicated if he wants to be everything we know he can be, which is a great football player.

Q. He’s a funny guy.
COACH STOOPS: He’s a funny guy. A lot less jokes through camp because he’s been really tired (laughter). He’s got a good attitude. He’s been fun.

Q. (Question regarding D tackles.)
COACH STOOPS: I feel good about our D tackles. I feel like we’re getting closer to playing better fundamentally. If you know anything about myself, we take great pride in that. That’s our job, to develop them into good fundamental football players.
I feel like Jimmy has done a good job with them. We’re getting closer to where we want to be.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam losing weight.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, he’s getting better. He’s working hard. Just like any young guy, any freshman, it takes time. You just got to keep on working.
But I like his attitude. He knows that he’s got to work hard. He knows he’s got areas he needs to improve. He’s addressing them.
Thank you. trying to be the leader, trying to lead the offense has helped him. Getting some guys back healthy is good. Javess Blue has been back healthy out there for a few days. That helps as well.

Q. Home opener for the first time since 2007. Is there value in that?
COACH STOOPS: I definitely think so. Just playing at home in the opener is exciting to me. I know our fans are ready to go. We need to do our part. I know we’ll have great support. We need to go out there and start fast and play good football, play with great energy, play with great discipline, make it exciting for the fans.

Q. A lot of teams in this league don’t get to play their first two games at home. How important is that?
COACH STOOPS: I think it’s real important, I do. I think we need to start fast. We need to go out and play well. Like I said, we’ve talked a lot. Coach Spurrier always says it best: In the talking season, we talk a lot.
We’ve improved. Our football team has worked hard. We’ll see where we’re at. I know we’re going to play better. It will be good to see these young guys get out there and play, see how we’ve improved, see the veterans, guys like Bud and Z, see them come out and see how much they’ve improved. It will be good to play at home.

Q. You have a lot of young kids playing for the first time. How do you keep these guys calm?
COACH STOOPS: That’s part of the unknown that I say we’ll see and how you respond from year to year. Certainly with young guys, some guys are going to go out there for the first time and they’re going to exceed our expectations, then some guys will probably have some rough spots here and there, have some mental mistakes, physical mistakes, things like that.
That’s why you have to get out there and play. There’s no substitution for experience. You got to get them out there, get them on the field, and get them playing. We tried to put them in as many game‑like situations as we could. We try to prepare them the best we can with all different situations. Had a good camp. Put them through a lot of tests. We’ll see how they go play.

Q. What do you know about UT Martin?
COACH STOOPS: They have a great defensive player, No. 40 (Tony Bell), the linebacker, an exceptional player. He’s a really good football player. He can play anywhere in the country. Really like the way he plays.
Like I said, I think they’re a well‑coached team. They’re very multiple on both sides of the ball, can do a lot of things. You got to be prepared for a lot, which is good for us to spend that time getting ready for a variety of offensive or defensive schemes.
I think they’re the type of team, it’s a little unknown. They might get out there and try to pressure the heck out of us, or drop (several in coverage). They’ve shown both, where they’ve been conservative and drop eight guys into coverage a bunch, or they can blitz the house and come after you.
I imagine we’ll see a bit of everything. It will be good for us to see how we prepare and respond to that.

Q. (Question regarding Stanley “Boom” Williams playing time.)
COACH STOOPS: He’s going to start at kickoff return. He’s a guy I will be excited to see him with the ball in his hands. He definitely is a difference maker.
Same with Mikel. Mikel Horton is the same way. I think he’s a guy that I want to see run the ball in the first game and see where we’re at.
We do have the luxury of having some depth at running back, so we got to get those guys the ball.

Q. (Question regarding the defense picking up blitz packages.)
COACH STOOPS: They’re getting there. They’re getting to the point where we trust them, where they can operate the whole offense.

Q. (Question regarding reps at running back.)
COACH STOOPS: Braylon and Jojo. We list those guys. We look at them as starters. We may start in a package with both of them.

Q. (Question regarding Ryan Flannigan and Khalid Henderson at linebacker.)
COACH STOOPS: They both will play. We’ll see how practice goes this week. They’ll both play. They both have done a nice job.

Q. What do you think of Patrick, to be able to go out and win the quarterback job?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it was real important. As I’ve said, I think you’ve got to look at Patrick and be proud for him, the way he’s responded to the situation.
A year ago, you know, he came out of camp at this time, he was third on the depth chart. He just looked at it, what can he do to improve. Like I said, he just went out and battled, got better over the year, came out this year, flipped the script, came out of it number one.
He has an opportunity. I have a lot of confidence in him. I appreciate the way he’s gone about his business. I think our team has. He has this opportunity now.
He needs to make the most of it.

Q. (Question regarding Demarco handling punt returns.)
COACH STOOPS: He is. We’re still grooming Timmons. As I said before, I think you’ll see both of them in the first game. Demarco has done it for a while, has experience. He’s comfortable catching the ball. His decision making is better than most just from experience. We’ll continue to get Timmons involved, as well.

Q. You’re down three receivers this week, but numbers‑wise do you feel you can use those four wideouts?
COACH STOOPS: I do. I feel better. We were discussing our depth chart over the weekend and early this morning. We do feel good about the wide receiver position.
I feel like if we are in a four wide receiver set, we do feel we’re two deep. Maybe not as experienced as you’d like to be still at certain spots there, but talent‑wise we’re getting to the point where those are the guys we’re looking for. You just need to continue to get better, keep on working, see who goes out there and make the plays.

Q. What do they (UT Martin) do offensively?
COACH STOOPS: They do a little bit of everything. They can put an extra tackle in and play him at tight end. They may try to get big and run the ball a little bit. They’ve done that certain games. They get into what we call a 20‑personnel look, like our offense, like a lot of people do, that H back off, do a variety of things. They get into a little bit of the quarterback run game stuff.
There’s a lot to prepare for. It will be good for us. There’s a lot of things we’re familiar with, that we see from our offense as well, even if it’s just the sets, things like that, from 11 or 20 looks. 20 looks is just two backs, three wide receivers.
We’ll see a lot of things from them, I’m sure. Like anybody, the first game, they’ve had a long time to make some tweaks and adjust some things. So you never really know in that first game. They could come out and emphasize something we haven’t seen much of. But that’s where all the practice and preparation comes. Whether they’re empty sets, big sets, whatever, we’ve worked it all.

Q. Question about your team. What have they got to do better?
COACH STOOPS: I just think consistency. We’ve got to go play well and be consistent. We’re not good enough to make simple mistakes and shoot ourselves in the foot, turn the ball over, things like that obviously.
We want to be very consistent. We want to pick up our tempo offensively and continue to grow and move the ball like we want to move the ball.
We talk about our running backs and things like that. Of course, I’ve always said that, Neal has always said that. We’ve never given anybody any false indication of what we want to be offensively. We want to be balanced. Of course, that means we need to throw the ball better than we did a year ago also. We need to grow offensively and do what we want to do that way.
Defensively, again, be more consistent. We need to get more turnovers. We certainly need to get more interceptions. Just be a more consistent group.
Fundamentally we’re getting much closer to where we want to be, especially up front. I think in the secondary we’re getting better. We just need some play‑makers to step up.

Q. (Question regarding run versus passing.)
COACH STOOPS: That’s going to vary week‑to‑week. We always want to be close to 50/50. You look at UT Martin, they were very balanced a year ago as well. They want to be balanced. Any defensive guy will tell you that, the most difficult offenses to stop are the balanced ones.

Q. (Question regarding UT Martin quarterback Dylan Favre reminding Coach of Dylan’s uncle, Brett Favre.)
COACH STOOPS: He does. He’s a good football player. Split time last year. They’re both good football players. So you could certainly see the talent there. Some of those throws and plays he makes are fun to watch. I just hope I don’t see those next week (laughter).

Q. One running back I haven’t heard about is (Josh) Clemons. Is he in a similar situation as Maxwell Smith? Injury really set him back?
COACH STOOPS: It did set him back. Part of it, he’s worked extremely hard. Really appreciate Josh, the work he’s done. He’s had some tough luck. We’ve tried to be very smart with him and he can only handle so much throughout spring and through camp.
We tried to just practice him every other practice to save his legs and save his knee. He did get into a live scrimmage, and honestly he got tweaked up there in that scrimmage. There’s that fine line of getting him game‑ready and not.
With him being on the sidelines, I’m sure it gave reps to those young guys that are very talented and very good football players.
He will have a role. We’ve got to continue to push for that and get him in there. He’s a big, strong guy that has some unique skill sets that can help us. We’ve got to try to use him.
As at any position, we’ll see how things go. We’ll see who emerges and who really plays well.

Q. You talked about UT Martin. Are you a coach that likes to open the playbook or…
COACH STOOPS: We’ve got to do everything necessary to play at a high level. With any game plan, you got to take whatever you’re going to emphasize that week and run with it on both sides of the ball.
But we will try to play as best we can and do everything we can. We can’t take anything for granted, you know that. It’s just not where we’re at. The state of our program, we have to go out and play the very best we can each and every snap. Whatever we have to do to play well on both sides of the ball, special teams, we’ll do that.

Q. (Question about the secondary.)
COACH STOOPS: Very comfortable with him. I love the way he plays. I love his instincts. He’s the type of guy, you correct him once, he generally never makes the same mistake twice. Really like the way he’s been playing.
As I’ve said before, that’s a position where we drastically needed to improve, and I believe we did.

Q. What do you know about Coach Simpson?
COACH STOOPS: You know, I’m not very familiar with him, to be honest with him. I know he’s been here for some time, maybe eight, nine years. From Mississippi. I believe he played at Southern Miss. I don’t know him well.

Q. Darryl Long going to redshirt?
COACH STOOPS: That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we plan on doing right now.

Q. How did he take that?
COACH STOOPS: He was good. A lot of the freshmen were good with it. They see it. Like I told you during some press conferences during camp, they get out here, you know, they’re very talented football players. It’s difficult. We’re getting better. As we get better, it gets harder to beat out some guys for playing time.
That’s what you want in our program. Some positions we don’t have that luxury. At wide receiver, we have to (indiscernible) these guys with a firehose because we need players. It’s just where we’re at.
It’s difficult. That’s two years in a row we’ve had to do that on the offensive side of the ball. Tell you this, if you had to do that on defense, I got very little hair left, but I think it would all be gone (laughter).
It’s hard. So many things change. You got to keep on moving as a program. It’s good to have them supplement you and add some depth in certain spots. Some guys you can bring along. If you’re playing a whole mass group of them, you’re going to have a hard time.

Q. Is there a plan to give Reese Phillips a series here or there?
COACH STOOPS: That’s the plan right now. We’ll get into that honestly as we get through this week. I think I’d love to play him. Off the top of my head, I’d love to play him.
But you know and I know Patrick needs the reps. We’ve got to get out there, get better, move this program forward. We’ll see how that goes. But to answer your question, I’d be very disappointed if he didn’t play in this game.

Q. (Question regarding Cole Mosier.)
COACH STOOPS: Really impressed with him. He’s really done a nice job. We liked him a year ago. He redshirted. We liked him in the spring. He’s a very big guy. He’s physical. He will play in this game. He’s battling for playing time on the inside.
I’m anxious to see him play and see how he does.

Q. (Question regarding Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith’s impact.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, it’s really important for those two to come back. As I said a lot through the off‑season, leadership is the first thing that jumps out at you. But also confidence. Our players see those guys out there, they make plays, are consistent, they’re always there. They’re great to have.
You know I’m pretty tight with my compliments. You know that over the course of the year and a half. I’m really conservative when it comes to complimenting guys until they’ve proved it and earned it. I probably haven’t complimented those guys enough, to be honest with you. They are tremendous football players, great leaders. They’re going to be great pros.

Q. What is the single hardest thing for a true freshman thrown out there for the first time?
COACH STOOPS: Just how fast the game moves. Even in practice, we have so many reps. If they make a mistake, they certainly hear about it, but it’s on to the next play.
You get in the game, things happen even faster. That’s where the experience comes in. With experience, the game slows down for them. I think that’s what you see. Like I said earlier, I think you’ll see some guys respond to it very well, and you’ll see some guys make some silly mistakes.

Q. Do you think Neal has that first offensive series scripted?
COACH STOOPS: Not yet. We’re working on it. Pressing him on that this morning (laughter).
We’re working through that. We’ll see what package we want to feature, where we want to go right out of the gate.

Q. How important will it be to get Patrick comfortable early?
COACH STOOPS: It’s certainly important for Patrick to get off to a fast start, and for our team to get off to a fast start. No hiding from that. It’s important for him to play well. He will. He’s going to make a lot of good plays and I’m sure he’ll make a few bad ones as well.

Q. You and Neal and D.J. said last year, people focus on the great plays, but you need to have good plays stacked on top of each other. How close are you to getting that now compared to last year?
COACH STOOPS: Much closer. Then it comes to the big plays, and that’s where we still need to grow. I think if you watch college football, you see these great teams, great teams in this league, very well‑coached, then it comes down to some guys making some plays a lot of times as well.
You need play‑makers to emerge.

Q. (Question regarding UT Martin’s Tony Bell.)
COACH STOOPS: He’s a great linebacker, but he’s a great pass‑rusher as well. Like Bud in that area. Bud is an outside backer, obviously much bigger. But he’s like Bud in that he’s comfortable on his feet, got great instincts, he’s an extremely good pass‑rusher.
He’s a mismatch for some people on the edge.

Q. You said things like Patrick has this opportunity now to play well, start fast.
COACH STOOPS: Don’t go there (laughter). I’m going to cut you off. I know where you’re going.
He has the keys. You heard me say that before. He’s going to go through some ups and downs. That’s anybody at any position.
We never guarantee anything except an opportunity, so… He’s not on a short leash. He won the job. He is the starting quarterback.

Q. You’ve been around a lot of NFL players. Where could you possibly see Bud and Za’Darius going in the draft? I know you’re not focused on that, but…
COACH STOOPS: I’d be very shocked if Bud was not a first‑round draft pick. He’s got to play his way into it, have the opportunity to be a high pick. I truly believe that. You know I’ve been around a lot of great ones. A lot of linebackers recently at Florida State.
Za’Darius the same thing. He could have gone a year ago, a little lower, but has a chance to play himself up into a high draft pick. First couple rounds.
They’re both very talented. But Bud is special. He has that ability to play standing up. Put his hand in the dirt. He’s a pass‑rusher. He’s got instincts. With everybody going to a lot of the 3‑4 things, outside backers, versatility, he’s a very good player.

Q. (Question regarding if he was surprised that Bud was preseason second-team All-SEC and not first team.)
COACH STOOPS: I am. Yeah, I was. That’s one of the reasons I think I’m conservative with my praising of guys. I don’t need to be with him. He comes to work every day. He loves being here. If he was worried about that, he would have left a year ago.
He wanted to come back, play himself up into a high pick. He wanted to lead this team. He had unfinished business. I love everything about him, the way he goes about his business. He’s not worried about anything except getting better this year.

Q. (Question regarding captains.)
COACH STOOPS: Last year I was unsure. We changed them up throughout the year. As you saw a year ago, Avery was a staple out there. We’ll see how that goes in the next couple weeks.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam.)
COACH STOOPS: He’s made it through camp. He’s getting better every day. He’s about where I thought he would be. He’s a talented football player that the sky’s the limit. We need to continue to develop him fundamentally, not just shape, but fundamentally he’s got to play better. He’s got to be lower, play more consistent.
What I love about him, it’s not easy, it’s not been easy, he has a good attitude about it. He’s got his ups and downs like all freshmen. But he’s really trying to fight through it, wants to be a good player. He needs to stay extremely dedicated if he wants to be everything we know he can be, which is a great football player.

Q. He’s a funny guy.
COACH STOOPS: He’s a funny guy. A lot less jokes through camp because he’s been really tired (laughter). He’s got a good attitude. He’s been fun.

Q. (Question regarding D tackles.)
COACH STOOPS: I feel good about our D tackles. I feel like we’re getting closer to playing better fundamentally. If you know anything about myself, we take great pride in that. That’s our job, to develop them into good fundamental football players.
I feel like Jimmy has done a good job with them. We’re getting closer to where we want to be.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam losing weight.)
COACH STOOPS: Well, he’s getting better. He’s working hard. Just like any young guy, any freshman, it takes time. You just got to keep on working.
But I like his attitude. He knows that he’s got to work hard. He knows he’s got areas he needs to improve. He’s addressing them.

UK’s strength of schedule ranked #6 in nation, UofL’s ranked #80

Photo by kysportsconnection.com

(Photo by kysportsconnection.com)

In what many considered to be a somewhat easier schedule for UK this year–upon closer examination–has actually turned out to be more of the same, something that UK has experienced frequently in their SEC past, where virtually every week they seem to be playing one of the top teams in the nation.  

UK’s strength of schedule–although slightly easier than last year’s–is still overwhelmingly difficult, ranking 6th in the entire nation.

We’ve also been hearing–rather frequently this past year–about how UofL’s schedule would be much more difficult after joining the ACC, but it turns out that their SOS is still one of the weakest of any major conference team at #80 in the nation.  A relatively friendly schedule that Mark Stoops–or any UK fan–could only dream of having.

Here is the complete list generated by college football number’s guru Phil Steele, which is based upon opponent’s winning percentage.  UK’s 2014 opponents have a staggering 98-55 overall record, while UofL’s are a stark contrast, at 75-76.

1. Arkansas – 103-54, 65.61%
2. Virginia – 102-54, 65.38%
3. Tennessee – 101-54, 65.16%
4. Notre Dame – 103-56, 64.78%
5. Texas A&M – 100-55, 64.52%
6. Kentucky – 98-55, 64.05%
7. Iowa State – 97-57, 62.99%
8. Syracuse – 96-57, 62.75%
9. Rutgers – 97-58, 62.58%
9. Wake Forest – 97-58, 62.58%
11. Utah – 98-59, 62.42%
12. West Virginia – 97-59, 62.18%
13. South Carolina – 96-59, 61.94%
14. Miami, FL – 96-60, 61.54%
15. Boston College – 95-61, 60.90%
16. Auburn – 93-60, 60.78%
17. California – 94-61, 60.65%
18. FIU – 92-60, 60.53%
19. Georgia – 92-61, 60.13%
20. North Carolina – 92-62, 59.74%
21. Illinois – 90-61, 59.60%
22. Florida – 91-62, 59.48%
23. NC State – 89-61, 59.33%
24. Indiana – 93-64, 59.24%
25. Nebraska – 90-63, 58.82%
26. Texas – 89-63, 58.55%
26. Ole Miss – 89-63, 58.55%
28. Clemson – 89-65, 57.79%
29. USC – 89-66, 57.42%
30. TCU – 87-65, 57.24%
31. Wyoming – 88-66, 57.14%
32. Oklahoma State – 86-65, 56.95%
32. Army – 86-65, 56.95%
34. Hawaii – 95-72, 56.89%
35. Ohio State – 87-66, 56.86%
36. Washington State – 88-67, 56.77%
37. Temple – 85-65, 56.67%
38. Kansas – 86-66, 56.58%
39. Louisiana Tech – 85-66, 56.29%
40. Maryland – 86-67, 56.21%
41. San Jose State – 87-68, 56.13%
42. Stanford – 86-68, 55.84%
43. Purdue – 84-67, 55.63%
43. Missouri – 84-67, 55.63%
43. Georgia Tech – 84-67, 55.63%
46. Minnesota – 85-68, 55.56%
47. Florida State – 83-68, 54.97%
47. SMU – 83-68, 54.97%
49. Arizona – 84-69, 54.90%
49. Oregon – 84-69, 54.90%
51. Southern Miss – 83-69, 54.61%
52. Arizona State – 84-70, 54.55%
52. Tulane – 84-70, 54.55%
54. Florida Atlantic – 81-69, 54.00%
55. Michigan State – 83-71, 53.90%
55. Virginia Tech – 83-71, 53.90%
57. LSU – 82-71, 53.59%
58. Eastern Michigan – 80-70, 53.33%
59. Michigan – 81-71, 53.29%
60. UCLA – 82-72, 53.25%
60. Oregon State – 82-72, 53.25%
62. Mississippi State – 80-71, 52.98%
62. Tulsa – 80-71, 52.98%
64. Nevada – 81-73, 52.60%
65. Kansas State – 79-72, 52.32%
66. Colorado – 81-74, 52.26%
67. Baylor – 78-72, 52.00%
68. Penn State – 79-73, 51.97%
69. Vanderbilt – 78-73, 51.66%
70. Toledo – 80-75, 51.61%
71. New Mexico – 79-75, 51.30%
72. Georgia State – 75-72, 51.02%
73. UCF – 77-74, 50.99%
74. Pittsburgh – 78-75, 50.98%
74. Boise State – 78-75, 50.98%
76. UTEP – 76-74, 50.67%
77. Washington – 85-83, 50.60%
78. Northwestern – 76-76, 50.00%
78. Miami, OH – 76-76, 50.00%
80. Louisville – 75-76, 49.67%
81. Texas Tech – 74-75, 49.66%
81. Connecticut – 74-75, 49.66%
83. East Carolina – 74-76, 49.33%
83. USF – 74-76, 49.33%
85. Iowa – 68-70, 49.28%
86. Fresno State – 74-77, 49.01%
87. Wisconsin – 74-78, 48.68%
88. Western Kentucky – 73-77, 48.67%
88. UMass – 73-77, 48.67%
90. South Alabama – 72-76, 48.65%
91. UNLV – 73-79, 48.03%
91. Kent State – 73-79, 48.03%
93. Oklahoma – 71-78, 47.65%
94. Akron – 72-80, 47.37%
95. Alabama – 71-79, 47.33%
96. Navy – 69-78, 46.94%
97. BYU – 71-81, 46.71%
98. UTSA – 70-80, 46.67%
99. Ohio – 71-82, 46.41%
100. Western Michigan – 70-81, 46.36%
101. Duke – 69-82, 45.70%
102. Cincinnati – 68-82, 45.33%
103. Bowling Green – 67-81, 45.27%
103. UL Lafayette – 67-81, 45.27%
105. UAB – 67-82, 44.97%
106. Air Force – 68-84, 44.74%
107. Old Dominion – 67-83, 44.67%
108. Idaho – 65-81, 44.52%
109. San Diego State – 66-83, 44.30%
110. Central Michigan – 66-84, 44.00%
111. New Mexico State – 64-82, 43.84%
111. Appalachian State – 64-82, 43.84%
113. Memphis – 65-85, 43.33%
114. Houston – 64-84, 43.24%
114. Arkansas State – 64-84, 43.24%
116. Rice – 64-85, 42.95%
117. Utah State – 68-94, 41.98%
118. ULM – 61-87, 41.22%
119. Troy – 60-87, 40.82%
120. Ball State – 60-89, 40.27%
121. Buffalo – 59-88, 40.14%
122. Marshall – 59-89, 39.86%
123. Texas State – 57-88, 39.31%
124. Middle Tennessee – 58-90, 39.19%
125. Colorado State – 57-91, 38.51%
126. Northern Illinois – 55-91, 37.67%
127. North Texas – 55-92, 37.41%
128. Georgia Southern – 51-95, 34.93%

Here’s the link for those that are interested: http://www.fbschedules.com/2014/04/2014-college-football-strength-of-schedule-ncaa-method/

50 reasons college football is better than college basketball

Originally posted on Kentucky Football News and Notes:

In honor of college football starting up, I thought I’d explore some of the reasons (50 in particular) that football has become the most popular sport in the United States,and why college basketball doesn’t come close.

1. College football regular season: Drama every Saturday, each game is important vs. College basketball regular season: I’m bored, maybe I’ll watch some basketball since there’s nothing else on TV.

2. College football: We can’t lose this game or we’ll be out of the national championship hunt vs. College basketball: Oh well, we lost this one but there’s twenty more.

3. Alabama vs. Auburn-nothing in college basketball comes close

4. You won’t see this kind of play in a basketball game

5. The SEC: the most dominant conference of all time (in any sport)

6. The shortest season of any major sport (three months)

7. Tailgating: You don’t see fans celebrating for hours…

View original 400 more words

Video From Day 2 of Fall Camp: Neal Brown talks about UK’s offense and wide receivers

In this video from day two of Kentucky’s fall camp, offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about how his offense performed, including some talk about the performance of his wide receivers.

The second year offensive coordinator mentions being excited about how his true freshman wideouts performed in their second practice, and also talked about liking the performance of the young red shirt offensive linemen.

Click the picture below to watch the interview with Neal Brown from earlier today:

nealbrown