Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops on Horton transfer, Alabama’s defense, poised freshman quarterback

MARK STOOPS

“Looking forward to a great challenge playing Alabama. We know we’ll have our hands full. I’m proud of the way our team bounced back last week and played our best football this season. I felt like we played very well on all three sides. There still many things for us to get cleaned up, but like I said, I think we responded well and played by far our best defensive game and hopefully we can build on that. We’re starting to get a clear identity of what we can and can’t do defensively, and hopefully we’ll build on it. We’ll have a real challenge this week playing an extremely well-coached, very talented Alabama team. So, looking forward to the challenge.”

On if he saw Mikel Horton transfer coming and depth at that spot: “Yeah, it’s not an issue handling the loss. As you know, he’s had only a few carries here this fall and, yeah, we did see it coming. It’s just one of those situations where for whatever reason he gets behind on the depth chart and has to earn the trust of the coaches and the players as he moves forward. He was starting to do that and doing a better job and being more accountable, and then some other guys emerged. There’s only one football and we’ve been playing pretty solid at the running back position, and he had a hard time getting back on the field. So we wish him the best of luck. But depth is certainly not an issue. We’ve got quite a few backs on scholarship.”

On Alabama’s defense, specifically the linebackers: “Yes, very physical. You know, just very physical guys. Reuben Foster’s been around for a long time. We haven’t played Bama for a while, but just watching him on TV and seeing him. But, I think they’re very physical, can run sideline to sideline, and doesn’t hurt that they’re very big and very physical. They play with a lot of energy and passion and they’re fun to watch.”

On if Alabama QB Jalen Hurts looks like a freshman:He really doesn’t The first thing that jumps out at you, he’s extremely talented but he looks very poised back there. He’s got a big, big, big time arm and looks good with what they do and how they keep you off-balance. It’s a challenge. But he does not look like a freshman, no.”

On if Dorian Baker’s hamstring injury is improving:He is. He’s getting better. He’s getting close. We thought we had him back a couple weeks ago and just kind of reaggravated it just a touch, but he’s been out there. He’s day to day.”

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