Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Mark Stoops’ final thoughts before Kentucky’s game against Florida


“So far so good. It’s been a solid week of practice. A lot of physical work is in. We had a good mental day today. We’ll clean it up tomorrow and try to put the finishing touches on things. The guys seem pretty locked in. It’s been a good, solid week.”

On how important run defense is to close the gap in the league: “Well it’s very important. There’s some data that supports that. We know if you rush the ball for one more yard than an opponent in SEC games last year you had an 80 percent chance of winning the game. If you outrush them by 50 yards it’s 88 percent. So, rush defense and rushing the ball is pretty important. (Long pause) I have a lot of other data that I won’t get into. There’s some other alarming, there’s some interesting data.”

On Jordan Jones update: Jordan, he won’t play.

On Florida freshman receiver Kadarius Toney: “Yeah, he’s got great change of direction and he’s got big-play ability. You can tell that, that’s for sure. There’s several of their guys that are like that. That’s why I say it’s a typical Florida team. Some of them are younger and getting their opportunity, but those guys can really run, and change direction and make big plays. I think their backs are really strong as well.”

On how players are dealing with added praise: “They’ve been focused in here in the meetings and on the practice field. We’ve had a good week of practice, so it’s been the same as it’s been.”

On playing 2016 loss in locker room: “Yeah, Coach Ed does that. I’m sure he wants a little reminder. He did the same thing before the Southern Miss game. I was up there, I was actually working out a little bit and I was kind of pissed off watching it every day. (Laughter).”

On where Matt Elam has improved the most: “He’s been more consistent. He’s worked harder at it. It’s been more important, but we’ll see. It’s day to day. He’s got to improve himself just like every one of us each and every day. He’s got to play good this week. He’s done some better things the first three games, but I want to see him play good this Saturday.”

On if Derrick LeBlanc has added specific technique drills to improve DL: “Yeah, there is. There’s quite a bit. You’ve heard me talk over the years: I’ve been a DB coach, so I tried to be very technical as well, but I don’t know if there’s a more important position to be fundamentally sound than d-line. It’s just there’s a lot that goes into it that people really don’t understand, and I think Derrick has done a nice job of organizing it and repping it and getting them better at some things. They’re much better, and I just think the overall structure has been better. Coach House has done a good job as well.”

On how difficult it is for guys like Calvin Taylor and Matt Elam to stay low: "That's what makes Matt unique. He does have great size but he can bend when he chooses to. He can bend and play with leverage. He's athletic for a big man. I think that's the key."

On Charles Walker saying they had nothing to do with choosing chrome helmets: "What, Charles thinks he's real important now or something? (laughter)"

On if choosing the helmets was something he decided to do: "(Dan Berezowitz) does a lot for me too. I don't really have time for a lot of that but Berez brings me options. Usually Berez thinks he's the general manager as well so he usually comes and shows me a nice photo and says 'What do you think?' I either give him a thumbs up or thumbs down. But we have input. The players wanted to wear all white last week, so we wore all white. Sometimes we give them that option, yeah. I don’t put a whole heck of a lot of thought into it, to be honest with you. A night game, we thought the chrome would look nice.”

On guys being confident saying they’re going to win this game or not say anything that could be perceived as bulletin board material: “Who said that? I didn’t hear that.”

On it not being in a boastful, but confident way: “They shouldn’t be saying that. We’re going to prepare our butts off to win the game is what we’re going to do. There’s no guarantees in anything. I don’t like that because just simply we’re going to do everything to prepare, to win this week and then next week and the week after. So that’s what I care about is preparation. As I said to the team, as I said to them again today: I can’t wait to have a sellout crowd and to be that and they deserve that and the players deserve to have that kind of support and everything else, but that’s not going to win the game for us. Playing between the lines is going to win the game and how we prepare through the week is what it’s all about. We’re in no position to be making any predictions.”

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