Transcript of UK football coach Mark Stoops' press conference Monday

March 18, 2013 

UK football coach Mark Stoops

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Opening remarks: Good to see everybody here, good to get out there, good first day. It was exciting to be on the field. I thought our players did a good job in the off‑season but it great to get out there and get going. Good first day.

I thought the guys had a really good attitude, and what I can tell was that they had a clue on what to do offensively, a clue on what to do defensively. Had a good idea of the base offensive plays, base defensive plays.

I felt like coaches did a good job of preparing them. Now, the execution was very sloppy. It was sloppy. You know, intention and stuff like that, and guys were anxious and all that. But felt good. I felt like again, I felt like coaches did a good job putting them in position and understanding some things.

Q. What was first day of practice like …

STOOPS: Yeah, very important. One of the most important things outside of having some talent.

But I think you know, again, I felt that today. Now it will be ‑‑ you know, that’s day one. Let’s see how we do all spring. But I felt like day one, that again, their hearts were in the right place. I felt like they were locked in. I say we had a good sense of urgency, not what we needed to be, but I felt guys were trying to move around and be locked in on both sides of the ball.

Q. On the depth chart situation:

STOOPS: Yeah, it was. I just didn’t feel that was right until we had a chance to work with these guys. I mean, obviously there was somebody that took reps with the ones and the twos and the threes and so on, but I didn’t feel like it was right to release it to anybody. Nobody has earned anything yet. So we are going to make them all earn their spots and we’ll evaluate that as we go.

Q. Some guys are listed at new positions on depth chart. Can you discuss those …

STOOPS: Just schematically, where we felt like they could fit in our scheme. We will keep working through all that.

Q. What he saw from the quarterbacks …

STOOPS: We were equal with those guys. We are rotating them each drill just to be fair with those guys. All of them had their ups and downs. Each of them looked really good at times and at times, you know, they struggled just putting it all together, which you can understand.

Q. On skill positions … STOOPS: After one day, one practice, again, we’ll go back and watch that film all day, but you have a good idea. I mean, you know, we dropped some passes. We were a little sloppy in that area. In the secondary they got behind us at times. I think we need to continue to build that at the skill positions.

Q. Did it hurt you to practice inside today …

STOOPS: A little bit. A little bit. The nice thing about being inside, outside of some kicks, you can get a lot of work done.

The good thing about this time of the year, as opposed to the fall, is there’s no scout team work. So we can all get out to the side and you have a lot of room to operate. Outside of the beginning, with the individual dreams and everything, it’s okay. I’d rather be in there and be on a good surface. Q. What do you want to find them out about you and your staff?

STOOPS: Yeah, just how demanding we are going to be, doing things right. You know, practicing with a great sense of urgency, you know, practicing with great detail. And you know, developing some leadership and accountability to each other. So those are some things we are looking for right away. Q. On speed, tempo of practice. Is it what he wanted?

STOOPS: I’m not sure what they practiced at before, but it’s pretty good. For the first day today, I thought our pace was very good. The transition in between periods will improve, will get faster, and more efficient in our practice, and we’ll address that with the players and with the coaches.

But I thought the pace was pretty good. You know, I like the staff’s organization, the offensive staff and the defensive staff, they were prepared for today’s practice, and you could see that.

Again, we were by no means anything close to a finished product or anything like that, but the operation was pretty good for the first day. Q. Any natural leaders you can see from day one?

STOOPS: Not really. You know, I’ll be honest with you, I just talked to the team about that. The leadership ‑‑ and I’d rather have it that way. Honestly I’d rather have it a little bit cautious than fake or phony. I’d rather people on their way to be leaders and you know, we’ll see.

We’ll develop some leadership and the team will develop some leadership but I’d rather have it ‑‑ everybody was out there holding on today. They were holding on, so, you know, it was hard to get a sense of that leadership. Again I’d rather have it that way than a bunch of rah rah phony stuff and guys not locked in and not being real.

Q. Is it better than what you might have expected or what you thought coming in?

STOOPS: I was, I was encouraged. I really feel like there’s some things to work with there. You know, we’ve got a long way to go, don’t get me wrong but I feel like they are good guys and they have a good attitude. That’s a good start. I felt like through the off‑season program, they were in pretty good condition.

Coming back out at spring break, Monday morning off of spring break, that really ‑‑ you know, they did a pretty good job. We got back yesterday and had a little stretch and a little run and got a little sweat going for those guys yesterday.

Still, that was good, just to get them back moving a little bit and make sure they are all back from México or wherever in the world they were.

Q. On his first look at offensive coordinator Neal Brown and his practices …

STOOPS: Very impressed. Very impressed. I think Neal had the whole offensive side of the ball very organized. I like the drills. I like the efficiency. You know, they are constantly working two, three, four quarterbacks, a bunch of guys. They are very efficient in what he’s teaching and the way, you know, we are managing the offense there. So I thought it was very good for a first day, I really did.

Q. Where are you looking for the biggest improvements?

STOOPS: You know, it’s difficult for me to talk about positions because as we all know in here, we need to get better everywhere. There’s not one position on our field that we don’t need to improve. And so that’s why it’s hard for me to get specific on a certain group because we need to improve on all areas.

I mean, again, I feel like there was a few guys offensively that stood out that did a good job that I feel like there was too many balls on the ground and very sloppy. I know it’s day one, and we are going to improve the execution, but I think just, you know, wide receivers on this offense is very important.

Q. Nerves coming out?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, definitely. I hope some of that was a little bit nervousness, a little bit anxious. Some of that, maybe they were pressing a little bit hard. So, we’ll improve.

Q. Was it nice to be able to get out there and coach again?

STOOPS: Yeah, it was different. I found myself staying on the schedule and making sure practice was running efficiently, making sure our coaches that haven’t been with me before, and our players understand the transitions and how fast we want to move between drills and where we want to be; I was making sure people were in the right place, just managing the practices, just jotting down notes, things that we need to get better.

Once we got into certain drills it was fun to get back in coaching. Obviously I can’t stick my nose in there offensively yet until they catch the ball or block that guy or something to that effect, but defensively getting involved the X’s and O’s and getting involved with the players, that was fun with for me because there’s so much management as the head coach and putting it all together, obviously that’s where I’m focusing the majority of my time. So anyway, yeah, it was a little bit different.

Q. Practice rest of this week …

STOOPS: We’ll go in full pads on Friday, so we’ll go shorts again Wednesday, full pads on Friday.

Q. Will there be a scrimmage Saturday?

STOOPS: No, we are only going to go three days this week and work them back in, with the 15 practices, we are going to go three this week, and that gives us plenty of time to review the installation.

So after the first three days, much of our installation will be in, gives us time to watch film in between each practice before we go back out. So give it to them nice and slow this week, back in shape and tempo and all that.

Q. What do you hope the players take away from 15 practices in spring?

STOOPS: Again, I think the demands that we are going to expect of them from a coaching staff, I think it’s very important that they learn the tempo and how efficient we need to be. You know, offensively and defensively at the end of these 15 practices, these players should know, this is who we are offensively and this is who we are defensively. There will be much more but the basics, you know, is a big part of who we are. They need to know that.

Q. Your first practice as a head coach, did you model it after other first practices at your other stops?

STOOPS: Yeah, I just put it together from things I’ve learned through the years. So it’s very similar to some things we were doing at Florida State as far as structure, practice.

Q. Was it nice to be practicing/coaching again?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, definitely, it was really was. It felt good to get out there and chew some guys out a little bit (laughing). No, it felt good just to coach them and push them and just get the blood flowing from the coaching point of view, yeah, definitely, it felt much more comfortable out there.

Q. What do you think of the indoor facility?

STOOPS: I like the facility, I like the indoor, I really do. I feel like we can get good work in there. It’s a little tight in the end zones, but right now in the spring it works well because we go against each other and we have plenty of time to operate. If we are doing scout teams with one side and defense on the other side, it could get a little tight but for right now I thought it was pretty good. Much better than being outside today.

Q. Is everybody healthy? Is running back Josh Clemons available?

STOOPS: For the most part, yeah, yeah. Clemons, we are going to be very smart with him.

Q. Can a player win a job in the spring?

STOOPS: Oh, yeah, definitely. He can win it till fall camp starts. Our first year here it will be very fluid that way. We want the competition and we need more position battles. That’s going to make your team better. We won’t let anybody feel very good about themselves, and we’ll push them hard and we’ll be very demanding. I’m not interested in developing a depth chart, I’m interested in developing two deep, but we have 14 more practices this spring and close to 30 before our first game in the fall.

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