Today was Heroes’ Day. I’d like to thank the military and all of our first responders for all that they do.
I was pleased with our effort today. Obviously, there’s a lot of good things out there. You could see the strength of our team and our depth.
Obviously, you know, it’s going to pay off when you face a team like Murray. I really credit Murray, for their coaching, the way they played. They’re a quality football team, they played exceptionally hard.
I just thought with our strength and experience and depth, it wore them down. They really did a good job, and they’re well coached.
Pleased with our team. I really thought we had a good week of practice last week. There’s obviously things you’ve got to work on, and that’s why we play. The experience really helps, and we’re going to get better with every opportunity.
We like the position we’re in, being 3-0 at this point, and we’re excited to get back to work this week for a big game coming up and appreciate, you know — I thought it was really nice to see a lot of our kids play.
I think the last defensive — the last group in there, other than one — I think Tymere (Dubose) was in there for a few plays. But at one point, there were ten freshmen out there, either red shirt or true freshmen. And saw some really good plays and some things — they gave up a few yards there late. But overall, really good effort. Appreciate the team’s effort, and ready to move forward.
Q. Mark, in those late situations, how do you gauge the the new redshirt rule so early in the year, using the game for some of those guys ...
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we thought we’d use it for a bunch of those guys just to get them some reps and get them in there. There will be a good dose of those freshmen that we will hold and use in emergency situations now. At least they got their first reps in game play, got a few snaps. Some of them played quite a few. So we’ll gauge it as we move forward.
Q. Mark, you were 5-for-5 in red zone opportunities, a couple of field goals on top of that. How do you feel about that aspect of the game?
COACH STOOPS: It was good to get field goals. Obviously, we’re looking for touchdowns, but it was good to get Miles (Butler) some kicks, and it was nice for him to put it through.
We did a good job once we got the ball moving. There was a few drives there, we’d like to get a few plays over and do a better job. But, you know, I think that’s where the physicality shows up when you get in the red zone.
Q. Mark, how did you evaluate Terry (Wilson)‘s performance?
COACH STOOPS: From watching it out there, obviously he made some big plays again with his legs. We have to look at some things. I know early on, there was a few assignments that —again, it will fall on the receivers. A few releases and a few of the little things, the little things that add up.
I know a couple of those pop out at me. Again, it’s always difficult to put it all on the quarterback’s shoulders all the time. But you could see he was very dynamic when he pulled the ball down.
I’ve been there. As a defensive coach, it will break your back. It’s frustrating. I’m glad he’s doing that for us.
Q. What did you see on that Zy’Aire Hughes’ play?
COACH STOOPS: Well, he was over there hunting them down. I said, Zy’Aire, come on, we’re going to give it to him, you know, so be ready to dial it up for him.
He said, “Thanks, Coach” after that. I said, well, you knew what to do with it once you got the ball, that’s for sure. He knew how to take it to the end zone. Zy’Aire has great speed. He’s a great kid.
That’s what I just told the team. I mean, there are so many guys that work hard. We are deeper than we’ve ever been. Guys, you know, want to play, and the frustration set in at times.
This is a great football team. They’re very united, but, you know, they still want to play. And they got to know, you know, we’re going to need every one of them to stay the course and to help us get to where we want to go.
But it’s good for guys like that, for Zy’Aire, who’s been working hard, to see him get it in the end zone.
Good for the, you know, for the quarterbacks to play as well. Gunnar (Hoak), you know, we wanted to throw it — normally, we try to run out the clock there, but we wanted to get him some reps and some throws. He did a very good job. It was good for Danny (Clark) to get in there and get a few reps, get a touchdown there.
Q. On Allen Dailey’s play.
COACH STOOPS: Allen is a good football player. We really got to look hard at getting him some more reps, because he’s a player.
He just has that — he has a toughness and work ethic, and he’s got instincts, and I really like him. He’s to get in there some more.
Q. Lynn Bowden had eight catches today for 89 yards and then had a good performance last week, is he starting to become that player you guys thought he could be?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, you know, there was some opportunity there. So when you dial some up where he has a good opportunity to get catches, and then you have some of the automatics, the way they’re playing, they throw the bubbles so he gets some there as well. But yeah, he’s doing some really good things. He’s practicing hard. He’s getting better with every opportunity.
Q. When you have 10 newcomers in there and then Tymere, what is going through your head?
COACH STOOPS: I took the headset off on the last drive. (Laughter.) I said I’m going to enjoy it. I’m just going to get try to get a little stress-free few minutes here. Normally, I do get aggravated. That’s why I had to get off the headset just because, you know, we do. We try to instill in all the players, we take pride in playing the game the right way.
We talked about that all week and, you know, playing to our standards. And everybody that gets in there, we want them to execute and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, have respect for the game. They did that. They played hard.
Just give Murray credit. They scrambled and made some plays and, you know, so our guys were playing hard.
Q. You guys had a three and out in the first half and then had three in a row in the second half. Did you say something to them at halftime?
COACH STOOPS: I thought that was big. I don’t think they had but a few yards in the third quarter. I thought it was good for our defense to come out and set the tone in the second half.
Just the normal protocol. We came in, made adjustments, talked about some things they were doing. Late in the first half, they had a few things on us we talked about. They played hard, executed in the second half.
Q. You wanted that clean game, how clean do you think it was?
COACH STOOPS: Oh, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want to be quoted on that. I think there were some really good things, and there were some things that we obviously can do better.
You know, we do that no matter what. We always look at the things that we can sustain, the good things that we’re doing, and look at the things that we want to improve on and try to focus on them here for this next week.
Q. Mark, you said you had a good week of practice, took care of business today. Coming off a big win where people say, oh, are they going to have a letdown, how are they going to handle prosperity, does that tell you anything about your team?
COACH STOOPS: It does, and there are things that we could have done better to start. But it does show the team and the strength of the team and just, you know, one play at a time.
Sometimes when -- you know, you can’t make it happen, you know, with any one play. We have to take it one step at a time. I always caution that in games that you want to go out and put it away in the first drive, and that doesn’t happen, you know. So there’s always things to learn from.
Q. Do you expect to have Quinton Bohanna healthy next week?
COACH STOOPS: I do. I do. He’s been close and, you know, I do expect to have him back, yeah.
Q. Mark, what did you think about the play of (Jordan) Wright, (Jamin) Davis and (Marquan) McCall? When you had those guys in there, what did you think of them specifically?
COACH STOOPS: You know, I have to look at the film and see. But it looked -- you know, definitely, Marquan shows up a lot. And Jordan, I think he had a good rush or two. He’s talented. It’s good to get his feet wet, get him in there. He’s one of the guys that we’d like to get him some reps and get him moving.
From what I could tell, from the naked eye, looked like they did some good things.
Q. Mark, you talk about getting them in. How much does it help just to get them on film, even for just a few reps?
COACH STOOPS: I think it does. I think it really helps. There’s no replacing game reps. And, you know, we have, you know, a few seniors on this team and so we’ve got to get some guys ready to go for the future as well.
So we got to get them some experience and get them playing and, you know, we got some talent there.
Q. Coach, what does Patrick Henschen need to do to make more of an impact at this point?
COACH STOOPS: Pardon me?
Q. Patrick Henschen ...
COACH STOOPS: What is it? I’m saying what does he need to do? Just like everybody that’s playing, just continue to stay the course.
There’s a lot of guys in that locker room that want to play, and there’s a lot of talented players in there that work hard.
That’s what I just told the team is how much I appreciated every one of them because they all want theirs, and they deserve theirs. But nothing is promised. You know, everything is going to be earned, and he’s no different.
Q. I want to ask about the first or second series Gunnar had; four plays, 80 yards. What did you see that you liked there?
COACH STOOPS: You know, he threw the ball, and we caught it. You know, that’s one thing. But I think he’d be the first one to tell you, you know, that it looked -- I couldn’t tell, looked like one or two got away from him.
So, again, just experience and just playing. And obviously, he had good protection, he hit the open guy, made some big plays.
Q. What does it do for the program, when you guys are heading into these critical SEC games in the next few weeks, to be 3-0 instead of, say, 2-1?
COACH STOOPS: You know, just we’re pleased with where we’re at and, you know, we’re excited to get back to work here for this week. We really are. It’s going to be a great opportunity, and we’ll be excited and ready.
Q. This is your all’s biggest win since you beat UNC Charlotte a few years ago ... Having such a big blow-out, what does that say about the program?
COACH STOOPS: I think just depth. I think depth. Again, we have some good, young players that when they get in there, they want to play so they run the ball hard and they block and catch it and so on.
So, you know, I felt like -- I don’t know how many guys we played today, but quite a few, and that’s good because we don’t get those opportunities a lot.
And it’s also good for, you know, our guys that are starters to maybe, you know, get a quarter or two off and get rested up and get ready to play here this week.