Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops met with the media for the final time before the Cats meet Charlotte on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. Here’s what he had to say:
“All’s well so far. Good week. Good week of practice. Guys have good energy and have been very positive and hopefully we’ll get out there and execute a little better here this Saturday."
On the importance of playing well Saturday: "Yeah, I think it’s very important. I hate to keep on going back, but last week, as you know, there were some things that were good. The energy was good. Guys were flying around. On all sides we really did some good things. That’s what I told the team: We can’t forget those things. We’ve just got to be cleaner in certain areas and execute in critical situations. It is important to go out and play well and play with great energy and passion and focus and do the little things right."
On what kind of team Charlotte is: "They’re a team much like some others we played earlier, EKU. They have some very talented players. Not as many as the teams we’ve been playing. Obviously they’re not as deep, but very well-coached. Playing a couple quarterbacks. They have some q-run game that puts a little stress on you, so good football team. Again, very well-coached. I’m familiar with some of those guys, and I know what they’re all about."
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On what he’s seen from Drew Barker this week: "For the first time he has the reins. Just the leadership and the ability to go out there and command the huddle. I hope he’s more comfortable. He seems more comfortable and more confident. I’m excited to watch him play. I know the team is and I know Drew is. He’s worked hard."
On if Barker has created a spark this week: "I have, I have. I’ve seen guys staying and working a little extra, just trying to again focus on the details and the little things that make a difference."
On if there’s any injuries going into Saturday: "No."
On if Joey Herrick is back: "Joey is back. He’s been out there practicing. He looks good. Think we’re in pretty good shape, really."
On if both quarterbacks will play Saturday: "I’m not sure. Not sure."
On what he wants the defense to build on after last week: "I think there were several things. I think no matter what was happening in the game, if there was any offensive struggles, no matter what position they were put in or anything like that, I saw great energy and a desire to get off the field. In a game like that every yard was critical, every possession was critical, and I saw them rise to the occasion. And really, it was great to see them make some critical stops there in the fourth quarter. There was a couple third and mediums in particular that stand out where we really had aggressive coverage and guys were in good position and made some good plays. And I just saw that tenacity, that fire that you need on every snap. They realized that every yard was important, every first down was important and that urgency I'd like to build on."
On team’s determination to put last loss behind it: "They did. They put it behind them. It was a tough Monday. It always is. But once we get out there and get on the field and get practicing and get onto the next opponent, that always helps. After Monday, I saw nothing that lingered."
On if moving Barker into starter role re-energized other players trying to earn starts: "Yeah. I do. You have seen that -- some of you always question me -- but some rotations with the secondary and the safety position there’s been ongoing battles at the Will linebacker position. Each guy has traded off starts and again safety, corner, offensive line. So we’ve done that at quite a few other positions. That’s what we need to get to. We need more and more guys and have that competition. I don’t feel our team is that way, but human nature is if nobody’s pushing them then they feel entitled and it doesn’t lead to progress. We’ve got to get away from that and that’s where having more and more players helps you."