UK Football

Clearly frustrated Stoops calls out 'undisciplined' Cats

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops contests a call during the third quarter. The University of Missouri hosted the University of Kentucky, Saturday, Nov. 01, 2014 at Faurot Field in Columbia. Photo by Derek Poore
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops contests a call during the third quarter. The University of Missouri hosted the University of Kentucky, Saturday, Nov. 01, 2014 at Faurot Field in Columbia. Photo by Derek Poore Herald-Leader

Mark Stoops tried to contain his anger minutes after Kentucky lost at Missouri.

"I got to be careful because I'm very frustrated right now and I don't want to go off," the coach said on Saturday night.

Apparently, 40 hours and some time spent watching the 20-10 loss on a big screen did not change Stoops' feelings much.

At his weekly Monday news conference to preview the Cats' game against No. 17 Georgia at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Stoops was heated and impassioned.

"We cannot wait for our moment," he said. "We've got to train to go take it and make our moment. Right now we're in that mode of hoping, hoping things happen."

When asked where the team lost its way, losing three in a row after going 5-1 to open the season, Stoops was matter of fact.

"The wheels aren't falling off," he said. "We barely had them on."

After the fast start — the Cats were one or two plays against Florida from being 6-0 to open the season — Stoops had fielded questions about bowl eligibility and competing for the Southeastern Conference East crown.

"I want to sit up here and say, 'That's asinine. Let's just go try to win one more game. Let's go win a football game. That's all I want,'" he said. "It's not coach speak. Just want to win the next game."

And to win that next game, some not-so-kind words might need to be said at the UK football complex, some grass might be worn down from punishment sprints.

Some players are going to have to figure out that the easy way is not the Kentucky way, Stoops said.

"We either choose to be disciplined or we choose to be undisciplined," he said. "We either choose to be a trained football team and us as a coaching staff need to train them. At times we're an untrained football team. You're not going to win like that."

When asked what he meant by "untrained," Stoops talked about creating winning habits through practice and being tougher mentally and physically so when the moment strikes in a game, it doesn't slip away like it did against Missouri.

"When we're under pressure, our habits come right to the surface, and they're bad habits," Stoops said.

Against Missouri, it was a much bigger problem on the offensive side of the ball.

Not coincidentally, it was that side of the depth chart that saw the most change this week. At running back, true freshman Stanley "Boom" Williams has moved to the No. 1 spot, followed on the depth chart by Braylon Heard, Mikel Horton and Jojo Kemp.

The first four wide receivers listed are now Garrett Johnson, Javess Blue (with no backup listed), Ryan Timmons and Demarco Robinson.

"We're absolutely going to keep on pushing and keep on making guys accountable," Stoops continued. "At some point guys just run out of opportunities. You got to move on to the next guy."

There were a lot of questions about quarterback Patrick Towles, who followed up the best game of his career against top-ranked Mississippi State with a dud against the Tigers (158 yards passing, zero yards rushing) one week later.

"I don't want to put it all on Patrick," Stoops said. "I thought we played so, so average across the board, every guy offensively. He needs some help."

The head coach said it wasn't about the X's and O's as much as it was about the little things. Receivers running a six-step route in eight steps, or a running back that was supposed to run behind his guard opting to run anywhere he wanted.

"It's about our attitude and our discipline," Stoops continued. "We didn't do some things very well. So we need to get some things cleaned up in our execution."

Tiller, McClain OK

Two key starters in the Kentucky secondary who were injured in the loss at Missouri likely will be available for the game against Georgia this weekend.

Cornerback Fred Tiller, who has started 20 career games, including all nine this season, went out late in the first half with an undisclosed injury. The junior is seventh on the team in tackles with 36.

Nickelback Blake McClain, who injured his shoulder on one of the first plays of the game last week, has started 18 career games and is 13th on the team in tackles with 23.

"They should be fine," Stoops said. "Banged up, but we should be OK."

Quick hits

For the first time this season, quarterback Drew Barker was not listed as an alternate on the Kentucky depth chart. Instead it was just Towles and backup Reese Phillips.

Stoops said it was late enough in the season that UK does not plan to burn Barker's redshirt season should something happen to Towles.

Kentucky's game at Tennessee is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Nov. 15 and will be shown on the SEC Network.

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