UK Football

‘We’ve got a bunch of guys in there that wanna win.’ Win No. 10 is big motivator for Cats.

Mark Stoops calls win over Louisville ‘gratifying ... good to see it all come together’

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team defeated host Louisville 56-10 on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. The Wildcats finished the regular season 9-3 and will play in a yet-to-be-determined bowl game.
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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team defeated host Louisville 56-10 on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. The Wildcats finished the regular season 9-3 and will play in a yet-to-be-determined bowl game.

MARK STOOPS

“Obviously a very gratifying victory. Just proud of our coaching staff, proud of our team. Just everybody for putting it all together and staying the course through a long, difficult season. It’s not easy to do the things that this team has done and is doing. When you’re breaking down barriers and you’re doing things that haven’t been done in a long, long time, there’s going to be bumps in the road and there’s going to be highs and lows. There’s going to be good and bad. Just greatly appreciate everybody in our program and our organization just staying the course, staying steady, believing in the things that we’re doing. That group of players in there, led by the seniors, is a special group of young men. They’ve overcome a lot of adversity and put a lot of hard work in for many years to put ourselves in position to do good things. Just really greatly appreciate that whole team and that coaching staff, our administration, Dr. Capilouto, Mitch (Barnhart), Mark Hill, just everybody.

“It takes a lot of us. Appreciate our fan base that was here today and that core group that’s always with us. We felt them in the stadium. There was a lot of blue at the end. It’s been really good to see it all come together and get the Governor’s Cup and bring it back home. Let these victories take a few days to decompress and heal up a bit.”

On how this win can help recruiting: “I definitely believe it has to help us. We won a lot of football games and we did it in a lot of different ways. That’s what a team is all about. We feel good about what we have going on in the recruiting and we look to go and build on this. Really pleased with Terry. Really felt like he did some really good things. He was what, 14 of 16 in the first half? Really put it away at the end of the first half. Really played some really good football down the stretch, late in the second quarter. With us getting the ball to start the third quarter, I know that was big.”

On how encouraging it is for the future to see Terry coming on: “It’s really important. That’s a tough position to play. There’s gotta be a lot of good pieces around it. But he really was comfortable. He threw some really good passes today in some tight windows. He bought some time with his legs and just really made a lot of good decisions. I think it’s very encouraging.”

On what the ninth win means: “It’s significant. There’s no doubt. We’re guaranteed 12 opportunities. We know how it is and that’s why college football is what it is because you get 12 opportunities and it’s a tough grind. There’s going to be some highs and lows. You’ve gotta find ways to win games in difficult situations and overcome adversity and bad plays. Getting nine is a big deal. It hasn’t been done in 41 years and that is significant. I’m proud of that team. That’s what I told them. They deserve some recognition because they’ve worked hard.”

On any crowd surfing: “No, no. I’m all banged up though. Those big guys were throwing me around. Been having a neck problem so I’ll be sore tomorrow. I’ll see them in the chiropractor in the morning I’m sure.”

On how tough Terry Wilson’s situation was coming in with a senior-dominated team: “It is tough. Him being a transfer and not knowing the lay of his land or his teammates and just playing in general. Being a first-year starter is difficult in college football, in particular in our league. He’s really grown and stayed the course and stayed steady. He had some highs and lows. It’s tough. He has to be able to handle that and keep on pushing forward.”

On if Wilson was hurt midway through the season: “He was. He was. But he’s not making excuses and I’m not making excuses, but yes he was. He was banged up. Played through it and he’s certainly feeling better now.”

On what was available offensively against Louisville that normally isn’t there offensively: “Well, they played hard. We knew they would. It’s a rivalry game and they’re going to come in here and they have pride about them. They were going to come in and play tough and play hard. And they did. They had some good stops at times. We just knew if we kept plugging along and running our offense, certainly Terry made some really big plays. He bought time. He threw the ball down the field and threw the ball in some tight windows. Our run game is always going to be there. We just gotta keep on staying the course with that. We ripped off some big runs late. That was nice to see and AJ had the good run that kind of capped it all off. We also executed our offense on some of the pop passes, some of the passes where there’s reads in there. We hit some of that with CJ again early that got us moving and kind of kept them off balance.”

On if Benny Snell hurt his back: “Not that I know of. He was banged up in there, I don’t know exactly to be honest with you because I saw him and talked to him. He didn’t act like anything was wrong.”

On incentive of winning the 10th game: “It definitely does. There’s something about that, you hear 10 and it is significant. Every win, you only get so many opportunities. It’s very important. I felt like we did some things differently a year ago and the guys really played hard and we gave a great effort. We’re going to do the same thing this year. We’ve got a bunch of guys in there that wanna win. We’ll try to make sure they’re in a great mindset and go in there and give it everything we’ve got to try to get another victory.”

On if he’s expecting everyone to play in the bowl game: “I am. I am. Yeah. I’ll have some conversations with these guys, but we’ve had some ongoing — I do. If somebody chooses not to, we’ll address it at the time. But I do anticipate everything.”

On Lynn Bowden coming along as a receiver: “He really is. He stepped up today. I thought we had him on the one on the deep fade and it just got deflected. I believe he was getting contested and just missed that one, but came back a few plays later if I’m not mistaken and made that competitive catch in the back of the end zone. He’s been like that. He’s been really steady and getting better. We know he’s great with the ball in his hands but now he’s getting open and Terry is hitting him. That’s a lot to build on there.”

On UK’s restraint and discipline: “We talked about it all week, that we just had to be disciplined. We want to be aggressive. We want an aggressive mindset, but you have to be disciplined. Fundamental and I felt like our guys, for the most part, kept their composure. I thought the officials did a great job of keeping the game in check. I was proud of them.”

On not letting the UT loss derail the season: “Because we’ve built on the leadership, the foundation. We’ve been building on this for years and years. We have some guys with some experience that understand that and can bounce back. We had the mentality about them and a mindset and a belief system in each other. And just relied back on the foundation that’s set. I appreciate them for that. Like I said, there’s no guarantees but it doesn’t surprise me. I knew this group would come out and play hard and try to finish the season.”

On young guys stepping up: “Without a doubt. We haven’t had to lean on a lot of those guys, but we feel good about them. Kavosiey, you saw a little bit of him tonight. And AJ, his speed. That’s good to see. Even defensively and across the board, offensive line, defensive line, a lot of good players in there.”

On Chris Oats looking a lot like Josh Allen: “22 is a good looking frame (laughter). You like those guys like that. There’s some good young talent there. It was good to see (Paschal) back out there tonight. He was getting a lot of snaps there at the end. He’s pretty big playing that position right now. It was good to see him. He was playing a lot of snaps. He was getting tired there but we just let him go.”

On how many years he thought it would take him to win nine games: “I don’t know. I never want to put time frames on things. We’re never satisfied and we always feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement. We’re going to continue to strive for that. I don’t’ take it for granted either. Greatly appreciate the work that went into it for a long time. Just staying steady and staying consistent and continuing to work and build. Great people around here. We’re going to continue to strive to get better.”

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