“Obviously a very devastating loss. You know, the bottom line is we didn’t make enough plays in critical moments. They did. I was proud of our offense taking it down and putting it in the end zone there. We came up fractions off, and it’s a difficult loss.
I thought we had it won with the fumble, and we’ve got to come back and convert and play, and they made a super-competitive catch in the end zone and we didn’t. It’s a game of inches. Give them credit; they played very hard. We knew they were explosive and a tough matchup at times offensively, and we didn’t make enough plays defensively.
Offensively, same thing, we had opportunities to pull away and couldn’t get it done, so it’s a team loss, and each phase had an opportunity to make a difference and didn’t do it. That’s the result we get.
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Q. You guys scored on your first five possessions and then went four straight three-and-outs. What do you think changed offensively?
MARK STOOPS: Well, there was one drop in there that I remember that stuck out, and then we just got off balance. You know, we -- the three-and-outs hurt, especially I think we were up 10 for a couple of those, and we just got off balance.
Q. Where do you go from here in the passing game after a game like this?
MARK STOOPS: Back to work. You know, there’s only so many things you can do. I mean, we tried rolling it. We tried playing zone. We tried playing man. We tried pressing. We tried playing off. We tried a bit of everything.
Q. How do you think your corners are playing the ball in the air?
MARK STOOPS: Not as good as they should at times. It’s difficult. I thought the last play there Lonnie played it good. He was getting physical, he was in good shape. You’ve got to strip it out. He went up and got it in by inches, and we’ve just got to finish it all the way to the ground.
Q. I know you talk about hindsight and all these things, but when you are up 10, they kind of give you a punt and you get the ball on their side of the field. Looking back do you wish you would have gone for the kill shot there?
MARK STOOPS: Going for it on fourth down?
Q. Just the approach offensively, I guess.
MARK STOOPS: Well, we ran it on third down because we were going to go for it on fourth if we got it manageable, and I think we lost a yard or two. You know, I think that was the thinking on going for it on 3rd down, and then they brought another element, they brought a zero blitz right at the snap there and got us in a negative yardage play, and then we had to kick it.
Q. Was there any confidence that you guys had this situation almost every game at home, that the game was going to come down to a final possession?
MARK STOOPS: Well, you don’t want it to be like that. I mean, obviously we’d like to put it away. But you know, as we’ve said throughout this year, we’re going to be in some close games. You know, it’s very close either way at times, and like I said, for a moment there we were all celebrating. We thought we had it won. So our guys thought the ball was loose on the fumble, but evidently it wasn’t.
Q. They were a big play offense, a prolific passing offense. Did they do anything differently in the passing game that you weren’t expecting?
MARK STOOPS: No, they didn’t. You know, they did what they do, and as I told you all week, their run game has a run-pass option off of it on every snap, and they converted when we were in zone, they got in soft spots. Against man they protected and got open and converted. Again, we tried a bit of everything and didn’t defend very well.
Q. What did you think of Benny Snell’s play?
MARK STOOPS: Great effort out of Benny, yeah. Really good effort. Yeah, it’s difficult to — it’s tough because we were running it and having great success running it. We were trying to throw it, and I think we — we had them off balance. I think we had our opportunities, that’s for sure, but Benny had a great effort.
Q. Being 6-2 at home, how much of a missed opportunity was this?
MARK STOOPS: I mean, it’s always like that in every game. Back is against the wall every game in this job, and that’s the way it is. Every game is important.
Q. I think Lynn had the most touches he’s had all year. How much more confidence do you have with him having the ball in his hands?
MARK STOOPS: We have a lot of confidence in him, and as the year goes on and as we’ve been talking about trying to build in plays and options for him and ways to create and get him the football, as he learns the wide receiver position, but he’s doing some very good things. As you can see, he’s very talented and can do a lot -- he’s very multiple.
Q. Did you think Ole Miss getting the ball out quick effected the pass rush?
MARK STOOPS: Yes. Yeah, for sure. Some of the blocking schemes and the way they get rid of it, yeah.
Q. On a positive note, CJ Conrad was a big part of the offense again. Comment on his play.
MARK STOOPS: Well, you know, as we’ve talked about all year, when the situations are there, we took advantage of it, and that was an RPO that we hit him on, the one that he scored the long touchdown on, and that was some of what they were doing to us, and they left him open on that particular play. But again, we’ve had those things called all year. They were defending him.
Q. On a positive note, how great was it to be able to honor all the military?
MARK STOOPS: It’s always an honor for us to acknowledge the military.
Q. You were up 10 and they have a holding penalty, you decline it. What was your thinking there?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, the way they were throwing the football, we needed stops. It was still a long field goal. We were getting some pressure and thought we had an opportunity to get one, but in hindsight if we could have pushed them back a bit further, but you hate to get a pass interference or some way where they move the chains there, as well.
Q. Coaches always talk about the 24-hour rule, get over it and move on. It’s nice, but it doesn’t always work like that as much as you try. Because of what happened, is this emotionally going to be very difficult to get your kids to move on?
MARK STOOPS: It better not be. We can’t let it be. We have to get back to work. We have three big games left, and we’ve got to invest. It should hurt a lot if you invest a lot. It hurts.”