Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops talks about prepping for spread offenses, mobile quarterbacks on SEC teleconference


“Looking forward to getting back on the field. It was good timing for us to have the bye week this past week. I think we used it wisely. Had an opportunity to get guys healthy, to work with some younger guys and some backups. Certainly look to continue to build on some of the good things that we’ve been doing in the front half of the season and work on the areas that we need improvement. So, it was a good week off for us. I felt like we made a lot of improvement, got a lot better and got healthy. Again, I’m looking forward to a real challenge this Saturday. But, it’ll be nice to be home, in front of our home fans. Night game against a very good Mississippi State team. So, we know it’s a real challenge like always and have a lot of respect for Coach Mullen and Mississippi State and what they do and look forward to this Saturday.”

On what challenges he faced as a first year year coach in 2013: “Yeah, it’s always a, you know it was certainly new for me — first year being a head coach and all that. And trying to do it in the SEC with a team that was pretty far buried in the bottom of the SEC. It’s always a challenge, but it’s been a long time since then. I think we’re getting a lot better. It’s still a challenge week to week. I think every coach in the SEC will tell you that, and I think we’re getting out – that’s for sure – from being six feet underground like we were. We’re getting to a much more level playing field. We look to continue to build on some of the good things we’ve been doing the past couple weeks. But, again, we know it’s a challenge and looking forward to it. This Saturday will be another opportunity to try to take another step forward and try to win another conference game.

On how he’s most different in year four: “Well, it’s hard to say. In a lot of ways that was a long time ago. I think certainly I feel more comfortable with being a defensive play caller now, that I assumed this year. That was certainly not the case four years ago. There’s just so many things that need to be done to build a program, and we’re continuing to build this program in many ways. I certainly feel like I have the ability to be a defensive play caller because with that you have to spend so much time with the fine details of being involved in calling a defense and coordinator a defense. I think that area alone is something I’m much more comfortable in now than I was year one.”

On what Boom William’s response to Vanderbilt game says about his maturity: “Yeah, I think you’ve heard me just about say it all year that I’ve been proud of Boom’s growth. He’s not perfect, as none of us are, but, again, he’s a competitor, he wants the football, he wants to play. That’s what you want, but he’s also seeing that the team and team-first and whatever the situation is and having trust in his coaches. He may not like every single decision that we make, but it’s about the team and I appreciate that about him. Boom is certainly at his best when he’s mentally sharp and mentally in tune with what we’re doing and being positive and upbeat. It’s a real grind to be a running back at any place, let alone in the SEC. And I think it just speaks to his maturity and his growth over the three years.”

On benefit of having a mobile quarterback when preparing for a mobile quarterback: “Yeah, I think it definitely helps that you are more familiar with the basics of the Q-run game and seeing that in practice and seeing that in two-a-days. We still go good against good on Tuesdays and Thursdays in certain parts of practice. And to have that and be familiar with it and see it in a fast pace by the offense definitely helps you.”

On how much he has had to change his defensive approach due to abundance of spread offense:A fair amount. A fair amount. It's been around for some time now. It's really hard for me to remember not having to defend it, to be honest with you. You may not know but I spent some time, a lot of years as a defensive coordinator at Arizona and defending Oregon when they were super high octane, so I've been quite familiar with it for some time now.”

On the 1976 team being honored at halftime and if he has a relationship with any of those players:Yeah. I think it's always great to see – I have met several members of the '76 team and to see Art (Still) inducted, get in the college football hall of fame was very exciting. Several of those guys look like they could still play. But it's always good to see them and we were talking about it earlier on my call-in show. Tom Leach was telling me the year before, I think they went 10-1 and they were sitting there and right at about .500 went on a good run and won two or three SEC games in a row and kind of gave 'em some momentum into '76. Maybe we'll use that as inspiration and hopefully we can duplicate that, but we're certainly proud of them and look forward to seeing as many of them as we can. We'll see 'em this weekend.”