Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Kentucky’s Stoops, Eliot discuss less than pleasing practice

Herald-Leader

MARK STOOPS

"Not real pleased. I don't really want to get into it, just not real pleased with our focus today. Fortunately we have a couple of days left to get it right. We'll continue to grind on it and keep working on it. Hopefully have better focus tomorrow."

On if the high from getting to a bowl is added into poor focus: "I thought we had good energy. They were excited. They came out and had a good practice Monday. Had a good practice Tuesday. Didn't feel like we had the focus today. The energy was there, but not the discipline and not the focus that we need. I'm sure there were some good things, I'm just a little bit pissed off right now at the end. The two-minute drill at the end. So, you know, I've not had a minute to calm down. Still a little bit perturbed. We'll get it ironed out."

On if it was both sides of the ball:"It was primarily defense."

On Drew Barker's surgery:"He had his surgery on Tuesday. Everything went very good. I was able to see him when he was in the recovery room. It was great. He was actually in a lot better shape than I thought he would that soon. He actually told me his leg felt better as he sat there. So that was good news. The doctor had good news. So, seems like it went smooth. We'll see. He's home recovering now."

On Josh Allen's growth this season:"It's a process. We're working on it. It's getting better. Some good and some bad. He does some good things. He'll need to play a good game this game. He'll be an important factor, as will anybody that's in a position to be in a one-on-one situation with their quarterback."

On if they'll change their schedule with Thanksgiving: "We didn't have school so we went a little earlier to get a little daylight and get them out of here a little bit earlier tonight. Tomorrow we'll have our meetings, walkthrough and we'll have a Thanksgiving dinner together here. Then we'll come in Friday with our normal routine."

D.J. Eliot

On what went wrong in practice today: “I think we just didn’t have the focus and discipline that we needed to have a good practice today. Too many guys not locked in. I don’t know what it was – maybe school off – or what, but mindset wasn’t right. Physically did some good things. Mentally, wasn’t where it needed to be.”

On how they get mindset back before Saturday with the holiday: “We’re taking their Thanksgiving away. No I’m kidding (Laughter). We just have to mandate it from the players from the time they walk onto the field. There might be a lot going on, but for two hours out here you need to concentrate on beating Louisville and being the best football player you can be. We’ve got to get it out of them tomorrow.”

On if this surprised him so late in the season with a team that has overcome adversity: “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t surprised me. I’ve coached for a long time, so I’ve seen a lot of things. We’re still a very immature at times and young defense. Got to continue to push them on that.”

On Jordan Griffin’s progress: “I think Jordan is a guy that does not fit that mold that I just spoke about. Jordan is a guy that comes to practice every day locked in, tries to get better. He’s improved tremendously this season because he concentrates and he pays attention when he’s not in. When he does get in he does the little things right, takes it very seriously. He’s got a great approach to the game. So, I’ve been pleased with his attention to detail and his discipline since he’s been here.”

On how they slow Lamar Jackson: “It’s going to be tough. He’s very electric, he’s dynamic with the ball in his hands. He has a strong arm. If you have two, three guys around him he still gets out of it. So, we just have to be sure tacklers. We have to be able to get him on the ground. We have to have guys in position to make the play. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but our guys are up to it, and we’ll be ready to go.”

On if they can learned anything from struggles vs. Josh Dobbs and Tennessee: “Definitely. It was techiniques or schemes or assignments or keys or reads that some of our players didn’t execute in that game, didn’t do well in that game, and those things you can take and apply to this game.”

On if he’s seen progress from OLBs Denzil Ware and Josh Allen: “I have, I have. I think they’ve improved. Last year was the first year for both of them playing, so now they’ve got two years under their belt. I think their pass rush has improved, I think their drops have improved. They’re better at body control and balance, which were some of the things we were looking to do with them this year, so I’m pleased with the progress from last year to this year with those guys.”

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