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Q&A: After Alabama loss, Stoops talks turnovers, message moving forward

Mark Stoops: We're capable of so much more

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops talks to media after his team's 34-6 loss at No. 1-ranked Alabama.
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Kentucky coach Mark Stoops talks to media after his team's 34-6 loss at No. 1-ranked Alabama.

MARK STOOPS

“I felt like we did some better things in this game, and the bad thing is we’re still capable of so much more and that’s what aggravates you. I definitely felt like we grew. We’ve been talking about improvement and growing as a team. I think we did that in certain phases and maybe took a step back in others, but we’ll keep on working. That’s a quality football team in a hostile environment. We did handle, we started the game better than the last time we were in this situation. We had a chance to do some good things and go up by at least six getting the turnover there early that we can’t do. So they had a lot to do with that by covering people and putting a lot of pressure on you with their front four. Again, give tem credit. We need to get some first downs. I thought defensively, we had some good stops and they’re always going to be a lot to handle. We weren’t efficient enough on third down. They were on both sides. That’s where the game’s going to get won and lost. Again, I feel like we did some better things and we’ll continue to improve. Looking forward to getting back to work. Told the team, we’ll get back late, late tonight and they’ve got to get their rest and their treatment tomorrow and get back to work on Monday before we have an off week. We’ve got to put a lot into this next week and try to get back to .500.”

On addressing turnover issues: “Well we’ve just got to keep on coaching it like we’re doing. Reps help with Stephen. We talked about it all week, about not being back there dancing around with the ball. You’ve got to make quick decisions and you certainly need to protect the ball. We talked about it all week about how many touchdowns they score non-offensively. And at that point we were actually hanging in the game, playing some good defense and you can’t turn it over. I think with Stephen it takes some more reps and some more experience.”

On Alvonte Bell not playing: “He had a one-game suspension. He’ll be back this week.”

On message to team with a big stretch coming up: “I’m worried about the next one, honestly. That’s what I just told them: It will be a late trip. We’ll get home late tonight, and they have to do their part to get treatment and to get rest tomorrow so we can get back working and have a great Monday.”

On if Alabama wore them down on defense as offense had short drives: “It never helps. You know that they’re going to get going and move the chains. I thought we need to handle that better. They were making some big plays again. There’s too much of us milling around and not getting set and not executing. But it does, of course it puts a lot of stress on you when you’re playing a very strong, physical team. Even the plays on the perimeter and the screens and everything they do with their big guys. They put a lot of stress on you and wear you down. I was disappointed with the way we executed on their first touchdown drive. That’s where we need to step up and make some tackles and some strong tackles. We need to continue to improve in that area.”

On why Benny Snell didn’t seem to be part of the game plan until the second half: “Benny was in the game plan for the entire game. No. 1, we were getting too many three-and-outs, so that’s a big piece of it. We weren’t getting enough plays. Once again, you’ve seen that as you guys ask me questions about different people. When you’re not getting a lot of plays you’re not getting a lot of touches. We do need to get him in there and get him started, but we had some designated plays for Jojo (Kemp) that he’s better at, certain packages, certain plays, and then we wanted to get Benny in there. We need to and we’ll do that. But part of it was a few plays in particular, and most of it was we weren’t getting enough offensive plays.”

On if Stephen Johnson was holding on to the ball and taking sacks because he was trying to do too much: “Yes. Yes. There’s times where you’ve got to step up. We had a few plays where he needs to move around the pocket and step up in there and throw the football. When it’s not there he definitely has to eat it and try to get a few yards and get down.”

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