Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops surprised by slide after start and his changing role on defense

MARK STOOPS

“Yeah looking forward to getting home and playing New Mexico State. We’re anxious to get back on the field. We’re not very pleased with the way we opened the season and looking forward to another opportunity this week. We had to really go back and concentrate on ourselves and work on Kentucky. We did that in the early part of the week, getting back and fundamentally getting work. Looking at what we’re doing on both side sides of the ball to get some confidence in our players and get our players to play harder and faster. That’s what we’ve worked on this week. Looking forward to getting out there against New Mexico State on Saturday at home.”

On if anything has surprised him about his team’s start so far: “Well, I think the biggest surprise is how we can play like we did in the first half of game one and then since then disappear. So that is surprising. Did not see that coming. The way we started the game everybody, as you talk about it for so long, you work during camp and you have your home opener, game one, and you go out and you really play very good football on all sides for a half and then, then it turns on you. That’s surprising. I thought we’d handle adversity better than we have and we’re a work in progress there. We’re constantly talking about it and it’s never going to change until we show that we can do it and we perform the way we can. Again, I could go back and back but you talk about opportunities and we’ve got to make them. We’ve got to make plays. Once again, I could go back to game one and the first possession of the second half and the ball hits us right in the chest and we drop an interception. So, we have our opportunities. We’ve got to get back and focus on the things that we can do well, but that’s been the biggest surprise, how we didn’t handle adversity.”

On how this has been different addressing the team since they’ve started fast the last two years: “Not too much different there to us, whether it’s early in the season or later. That really doesn’t change in your approach and how you try to get your team up. Really as we approach the season it’s 12 one-week seasons, so week to week we always hit that reset button and get back to work.”

On if he’s changed his role on preparing the defense: “Yeah. The question was asked and I think you’re asking the same thing, will you take a more active role, and the answer to that is yes, I will take a more active role. As far as the structure of our staff, that has not changed. Coach Eliot is the defensive coordinator. I’m assisting him but I’m much more involved this week and I will be until we get things turned.”

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