Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops on mixing business and pleasure, Cats’ focus during bowl week

MARK STOOPS

“As you guys saw at the beginning of practice today — nice and casual today — we had a good walk through. Guys are loose. We’ll have one more run through tomorrow before we head to the press conference. Putting the finishing touches on things. I think our preparation’s been good. Hopefully we’ll go out and play that way.”

On his first bowl practice week and if it’s lived up to expectations: “Yeah. It has. It has. I’ve been to many bowls before, never as a head coach, but to be honest with you, the people here have made it so seamless, it’s been very easy. Our operations people, our administration, the folks here have made it very easy for us. There’s been no issues.”

On creating a bowl schedule and if he relied on past programs he’d been a part of: “I did. Of course. Yeah. I looked at a lot of options. I took a lot of people’s schedules. Obviously I consulted with my brothers and I relied a lot on what Jimbo (Fisher) has done and what Florida State has done. I looked a lot at their format as well.”

On mixing business and pleasure: “There’s always a fine line. It’s always like that throughout the year, it’s the same way. I really like our players to enjoy ourselves. Friday’s a lot like that. We get our run through done and I want them to enjoy Fridays a little bit, whether we’re on the road or in-season, a home game, we go to a movie. I want that balance to be there all the time. Obviously it’s a bit more of a challenge at a place like this because there’s so many guys. We’re traveling so many and there’s a lot more for them to do for many more nights. So we’ll start getting it locked in a little bit, pull the reins in more and more tonight and tomorrow, for sure.”

On what he’s been most pleased with this week: ”Just that balance that the gentleman just asked (about) right there. I think we’ve gotten our work done when we needed to. They’ve been very attentive in the meetings. Again, there’s so many guys here. We normally don’t travel all these guys, so there’s quite a few players here and when you’re dealing with that many numbers you’re trying to stay away from the outside distractions. We haven’t had those. They’ve been locked in at meetings and the practices have been very good.”

On if he feels good where they’re at planning for Georgia Tech’s offense:I do. I feel like we’ve really hashed it out for a long time. We’ve spent a lot of time on these guys, as you know. It kind of hindered us as far as going good on good, because they’re some rule breakers, some tendencies and some things we had to retrain ‘em. So that’s the only negative is we just haven’t gotten as much good on good down here.”

We still did some, but a lot of that has been with twos and threes against our No. 1s and No. 2s offensively. Just our one defense and particularly at linebacker there’s some rule-breakers we didn’t want them to do that.”

On challenges for a secondary vs. triple option: “I think there’s a challenge for them always to stay on their feet and not get blocked. They’ve got to be great in secondary run support. They’ve got to be great on their rotations and what we’re doing and playing play-action.”

On playing well in 11 a.m. start at Missouri: “Well, I was pleased with the 11 a.m. start, the one we had. We’ve played I’m not sure how many other noon games, but I know our last game of the year was noon. So, with the 11 a.m. start, yeah we talked about it all week. We were prepared for it, we had a mentality about us to get up ready to go. We have our little routine, what we do to kind of get them up, get them moving, get them excited very early in the morning. Hopefully we’ll have that same mindset.”

On if the coaches are in on the Top Golf trip: “No, coaches will not be in on that (laughs). Coaches gotta go back and put the finishing touches on our last practice tomorrow. These guys will go have some fun.”

On who he thinks the best golfer is:“Well, I know who dresses the part, who acts like he’s a real good golfer is Coach Thomas. Lamar thinks he’s a golfer but all I know is I’ve played him twice and whooped him both times.”

On what impresses him about Stephen Johnson: “Just his poise and the way he’s done things to put us in a position to win. It may not always look pretty — he may have a turnover here, bad play — but he always responds and seems to make critical plays in critical moments. He’s put us in good position to win football games.”

On how the layoff has been: “Yeah I think it’s been very good. I feel like our players have been very energetic, they’ve been focused in practice. We’ve embraced having this opportunity to get back in general, for the future, and also preparing for this game.

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