Jen Smith on UK Football

‘We don’t have to deal with that no more.’ UK’s Stoops discusses ending the streak.


“Obviously, it’s hard to describe the feelings that I have right now, just feel so blessed to be the head coach here and just to get that victory for truly everybody in the Big Blue Nation. Most importantly our players for the work that they put in and the time and commitment. I’ve said all along that I love this team. I told them at halftime, I told them before the game that we were going to win this game because they love, trust and believe in each other. I’m happy for our administration and our fan base. Our fan base has waited a long time. To say (the streak talk) doesn’t bother you would be a lie. I think it’s an undo burden players inherit some time, coming into a streak like that. They don’t deserve that. They weren’t part of that. Some of these guys were a part of last year’s team and they played well a year ago, they just didn’t come out on the fun end. And we know how we can play with just about anybody in this league and that is gratifying because we don’t have to deal with that no more. So they can get all that updated. (Laughter) The game notes and all that updated real quick.

“I’m just very, very, very, very happy for our team. Truly a team victory. You can go down and talk about so many parts for the team, but I think the physicality of our offensive line. It was really a joyous occasion in there just now as I awarded John Schlarman the game ball for the way the offensive line blocked. We rushed the ball for over 300 yards at Florida. That’s a pretty good number. John is going through a lot as we’ve talked about and to see him again this past week as he goes through six hours of chemo and then pop up again like he didn’t miss a beat. He’s a strong man going through a lot and I’m grateful to be able to give him a ball. And of course we’ve got one in a box for Josh (Paschal). Great team victory. At halftime our team felt very confident that we could go back out and execute, just play. We were the more physical team and I told the guys you know the statistics, when you rush like that you come out on top most of the time, like 95 percent, most of the time in the SEC. That I think is the difference. I’m very proud of our defense. I think they played special all night. Good team win.”

On what this win means for guys like Schlarman who have been around a long time: “It does mean a lot to those guys. They’ve been around a long time. I saw Dr. Johnson in there. He’s been here 22 years and there are a lot of folks that have been around a long time and there have been a lot of good team, but the ball just bounce your way. But we will keep on playing. I told them if we keep competing the way we have — like since I’ve been here — we were going to knock down that door sooner or later. Fortunately it was tonight.”

On what ending the streak can do for the program: “I think it’s a big step. It’s only two games. You can’t ever get too far ahead of yourself. Just like if we’d come out on the wrong end, you can’t be too low. It’s a long season. But it is a step. You know that and I know that. It’s a big piece. You’ve heard me talk about knocking down doors. Well, this is a big one to knock down this door. We did it the right way by being a good, hard-nosed, tough football team.”

On if he had a feeling in practice that the players were feeling confident: “I felt very good. Obviously mistakes are mistakes and we have to get those corrected. Everybody knows that. But when you do play that way and win by 15 points (against CMU) that’s not so bad to me. I don’t know who we think we are. We’re grateful for every victory we have. I think I saw some MAC schools today beat some Power 5s if I’m not mistaken. Those are good football teams that we have respect for. We worry about ourselves and getting better every time we take the field. This was a big piece. Now we better go play good next week.”

On recruiting Terry and if he saw the playmaking he showed tonight: “We did. We did a see a guy in Terry that could make explosive plays like that. He still has a lot of football ahead of him. He’s going to get better every opportunity. He was dynamic today when he pulled the ball down and ran. He missed that throw at the end of the half. We felt we had that play set up and he missed that throw. We told him at halftime to go back out there and let it rip and let’s go play the second half. And he made some big plays.”

On Terry running on broken plays: “It makes a big difference. Those are critical, to have a quarterback that’s very dynamic like that. Your structure of your defense puts a lot of pressure on you. You’ve heard me talk about it when we play dual-threat guys. The fact that he can do that, as we progress and start throwing the ball more, it’ll put more and more pressure on the defense.”

On the confusion of the final play: “Well our thought was get the group that we wanted out there. Our last play was going to be victory so we had a guy with a hat on a hat and made sure we had all 11 out there and get it all set up. I wanted our 11 guys on the field. And then as I saw on the replay it was clearly a fumble. Did they give us the touchdown? (Yes.) Good.”

On scoring to start the second half: “It was big. We talked about starting fast. At the end of the first half we were moving the ball very effectively. I think the guys had a lot of confidence. We went out there and the fact that we ran the ball, I think Terry pulled it down once and had a critical run. But the rest of the time was running the ball. Listen, we want to be more balanced and we will be more balanced, but my deal is don’t let them off the hook. If you’re running like that, they were getting tired. It puts a lot of pressure on a defense. We maybe stuck with that more than we normally would but it was efficient.”

On the Gatorade bath: “It was a shock. Felt good. I was hot.”

On opponents talking about Benny Snell before games: “Like I told Benny the last time somebody popped off against him, I said ‘listen, when you do what you do in the SEC you don’t have to say anything. People know who you are. He’s a dynamic back. He gets very, very tough physical yards. Believe me, people in this league respect for him. That’s all that matters.”