Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops on revenge factor in Southern Miss game and growth of linebacker Eli Brown


“I hope everybody is doing well and had a good summer. Before I get started, I just caught the end of Coach Sumlin there when he was talking just briefly. Just wanted to say that our thoughts and prayers are with all the people affected by this hurricane. I certainly understand there’s quite a few players there from Texas on their team and throughout the country that are affected by that. We’re thinking about them and are praying for them.

“As we get started for this game we’re excited like everybody, game one. I feel like our team has worked exceptionally hard throughout the winter and spring and throughout fall camp. I feel like we’re a better football team. We’re deeper than we’ve been and physically and mentally stronger. So we’re excited to get going. We know we have a real challenge going on the road playing Southern Miss, a team that beat us a year ago. So we’ll have to play much better, and we’re excited about the opportunity.”

On Eli Brown and gap at weakside linebacker between him and Jordan Jones: “Well, I mean Jordan Jones has played some really good football for us and has some really good experience and has definitely been more consistent over the past couple of years, but I’ve been very, very pleased with the way Eli’s playing. That’s really all that he needs to worry about is playing the best football he can, so the more trust we have in a player, the more we can find opportunities to get him on the field. And we’ve started to cross train him to where he can play the Mike (middle) linebacker in certain third-down situations as well.”

On if the revenge factor could work against them if they're too worked up: I'm not sure. I would not think so, because we don't talk about that much — the revenge factor. Last year was last year. This year is this year. I tell the players, if that motivates them, fine. Motivate them to prepare. I don't think it's about that. I think it's about our preparation and how we play and how precise we play. We've got to keep our poise and focus and execute. And really if you think back, it was a great teaching moment for us. We certainly grew from it a year ago and we have to eliminate some of those mistakes going into this year. Because last year was a home opener, everybody's excited, and we come out of the locker room and were all jacked up and played exceptionally well. I forget what the exact numbers were, but we jumped on them pretty good, were playing good on offense and defense. We had a big lead there in the first half and went into halftime and we didn't finish it. So, we can't let our emotions get out of control and we have to always be prepared and play with that poise and execution more than anything. That's been our focus."

On if they just ignore that loss completely: “No. I think there’s always a combination. You have to learn from every opportunity. We have to learn from our failures and we’re gonna learn from the mistakes we made a year ago. Certainly we talk about it, discuss it and watch it, but again, it’s about our execution and how we play. Emotion has very little to do with it. We better be emotionally ready to play and very excited to play, but it’s about, throughout this week, how motivated are they throughout camp and throughout this last week here in camp, and the last week of preparations, to do what we can to put ourselves in a position to win games. That’s what I want to use the motivation for. Just getting all hyped up and all that, that goes out the window in 10 minutes of a game. Sometimes it’s counterproductive if you waste a lot of energy on it. That’s our focus, to play very precise football and do the very best we can and execute on all sides.”