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Everything Mark Stoops said in his Monday Press-Conference

Mark Stoops met with the media Monday to talk about Saturday's embarrassment against Missouri.


Here's everything he said:

Opening Statement

“Not very pleased with the way we played last week at Missouri and that falls on me and not having the team prepared to play. Missouri, credit them. They were extremely excited and prepared to play and Coach (Eli) Drinkwitz deserves credit and their staff. They did a really good job, their game plan, they outplayed us, they were more physical than us, they were more excited to play the game than us and more prepared. The outcome was because of that. That starts with me in getting the team prepared and we have to do a better job of matching the intensity of our opponent. When you go on the road to Missouri, the last time we went there, I felt like we were outplayed and somehow were able to come away with a victory and this time that wasn’t the case. You have to credit them for that.

“We have a lot of work on. I felt like defensively we were very lackluster early in the game. I thought our intensity really picked up as the game went on but there were too many yards where they were extremely patient in getting two-, three-, four-, five-yard runs. Even when we got good stops for negative yardage they were able to convert third downs. There were a lot of manageable third downs that they did a good job of converting. Those are things they did well and things we didn’t execute. It was a combination of things. 

“Offensively, what was disappointing is our bread and butter, we were not able to run the ball efficiently. When we did, on the only two possessions we had that we scored points, we were able to create runs and create positive plays in the run game. We tried to open it up and throw the ball. I want to say we were 50/50 with run/pass early and that combination really didn’t work. We weren’t effective at throwing the ball. That combination when you get behind the chains was not effective and when we did try to run the ball to get ahead of the sticks, they were very good and stout in holding us in the run game – getting us in second-and-long, third-and-long, and it wasn’t a good combination. 

“So, a lot of work to be done. All of us need to take that responsibility. We say that every week but it’s so true, everybody in our program accept your responsibility, what you can do better and how we can do better. That starts with me, getting them prepared and mentally sharp to play. I tried, believe me, I tried extremely hard, even to the point I went to an extreme Saturday morning as far as what I normally don’t do as far as pregame because I just felt like we just weren’t on point for some reason. I’ve got to get them prepared throughout the week, it doesn’t happen on Saturday, you can’t flip that switch.

“Big challenge this week with Georgia. Kirby (Smart) has done a remarkable job coaching his team and (they have) unbelievable athletes. Very well-coached, obviously have recruited at a high level and have impact guys across the board. Balanced offensively and defensively, as good a defense as I’ve seen in a long time, very, very explosive defensively across the board, athletes all over the field, can overwhelm you. Big challenge ahead of us this week and obviously need to improve.”

On the QB depth chart…

“We’ll see how it goes throughout the week. Haven’t had an opportunity to meet with those guys with Sunday being a day off and our meeting is coming up. We’ll see where everything is after a couple days.”

On the offense and effectiveness of the QB run game from last season…

“We still have a good dose of that in the game plan as far as the ‘Q’ (quarterback) run game that helped with Lynn (Bowden). We still have some of that in there. We’re not doing quite as much and we’re trying to mix it up. We felt like with the way Missouri was going to play us, that they were going to be one-on-one outside, press us and get in our face outside and load up the run game so we felt like we had to throw the ball. That’s why we opened the game with three straight passes. We went incomplete, incomplete and gain complete for about five or six yards. We felt like we had to push the ball down the field a little bit and create some in the pass game.  Unfortunately, we weren’t very effective in that.”

On the wide receivers…

“There is a combination of things and certainly we don’t need to get into finger pointing in the media but there’s things we can do better, obviously. There were times when we got guys open and we didn’t have the protection. We didn’t have that many possessions. One possession early was a protection issue, where guys were coming open. Other times were run/pass options where maybe we didn’t make the right decision. There were other times when we had another drop in a critical moment, so there’s a variety of things we need to do better. I don’t need to point the finger at any one group. We all need to accept the responsibility for that and improve on it.”

On status of offensive line coach John Schlarman … 

“I don’t know. He will not be here today (Monday) and was not here yesterday (Sunday). I’ll give you an update on that when I can. Just trying to respect his privacy, let him get his rest and see if we can get him healthy. Right now, obviously, he has a tough battle ahead of him and hopefully John will start feeling better, first and foremost for his family, not to get back to work. We just want him feeling good.”

On what he wants to see from the quarterback position …

“Again, I want to see our team play better. Anytime you say something like that it’s going to get zeroed in on any one particular person. We need to play better as a unit. We all understand that. We have got to put our players in position that they can do what they can do, what are their strengths, and we need to execute that. That goes across the board. I want our unit to play better. I want us to play better across the board. I didn’t feel like we strained like we normally do. That goes for everybody. I didn’t feel like we played with the same chip, the same mentality, the same edge that you need to play with each and every week. No matter what you do, who you play, you have to refuel during the week and it is a challenge but it is not an excuse. It is what it is. We have physically and mentally strong players and we have to make sure they are ready to play and it goes across the board. I am not going to put any one thing on the quarterbacks because that is going to get blown out of proportion. We need to play better as a unit.” 

On the team’s director of sports science and sports psychologist …

“Chris Morris is our director of sports science, but he is not qualified to be a sports psychologist. We have somebody within the university that handles all student-athletes and people on campus. There is nobody that is directly here with me day-by-day.” 

On Nick Saban saying that good defense doesn’t beat good offense anymore …

“I definitely think there is some truth to that. That doesn’t mean that we all, including him, we all want to play great defense, especially defensive coaches. But you also have to understand and we all understand that you have to score points. The level that they are playing at, they are at a point in their program where they want to win each and every game. For us, we are not quite there yet but we’re trying, that is our goal, is to win no matter what Saturday we play. 

“It also depends on the people you have around them and the playmakers that you have. I am watching crossover games because of who we are playing and watching both sides of the ball against Georgia and you watch Alabama and it is almost absurd the offensive playmakers that they have. You can understand that. They are playing at an elite level offensively but to win it all you have to be good on all sides and everybody knows that and that is what we are all striving to be. Certainly, I think you need to find ways to score points, that is for sure. We need to continue to recruit playmakers and we need to do as good a job as we can offensively as coaches to make sure we are putting them in a position to do what they can do.” 

On if the offense is at a point to start a new direction scheme-wise …

“We will never be at that point where we are going to panic. Are we happy with the way we played? I think you understand that we are not. Nobody is happy with the result of Saturday. But nobody wants to just throw away everything we’ve done and start over. Improve? Absolutely, we need to, whether we win or whether we lose we are trying to improve and get better. It is frustrating when you take a step back. Again, it is easy to finger-point, and I understand that, but really that is on me and we have to have the team prepared to play. I am trying. You try different tactics and we work extremely hard but I have to find a way to reach this team. This team is different than other teams I have had. It is a different mentality and I have to find the right way to reach and continue to develop leadership and get that pull from the top to play the way we are used to playing. It is a different year but it is what it is. I expect more from myself to get out of this team.” 

On the need for having more explosive playmakers and if it is a positive or negative in recruiting …

“Absolutely, both. Both things you just said. It is what it is. Obviously, we need playmakers. I believe in the players we have here. We have to give them a better opportunity and that is our job as coaches. Our players that are here will continue to get better and we will continue to put them in a spot to be successful. Certainly, we will play better at certain positions and we all need to shoulder that responsibility. If it is on the quarterback, it’s on the quarterback. If it is on the line, it’s on the line. If it is a running back in protection or catching it or a receiver catching the ball, it's all the above. There are guys that are here that can play better and it starts with that. Of course, people will use it against you but you have to be able to overcome that and recruit playmakers.” 

On tempo of the offense, in-game adjustments and Coach Gran’s reliance on Coach Stoops for “feel” of the game. Has anything changed with pregame planning or coaching from the sidelines…

“Nothing has changed. There is certainly some frustration when things don’t work and Saturday was one of those games. Obviously, we didn’t execute our bread and butter and when we did we were effective at moving the ball but it was few and far between. When we were able to be physical and run the ball and get ahead of the chains, we were efficient. Part of that is on the defense, we let them control the game and control the clock and they controlled field position. A lot of our drives were backed up where normally at times we are trying to get ahead of the chains and get first downs but again we always second-guess ourselves – need to be more aggressive, not aggressive enough, we need to throw it more, need to throw it less.

“I looked at the beginning of the game when the game was in balance and were 50-50 and that wasn’t effective. I want to look at our two (scoring) drives, both of our (scoring) drives we were efficient at running the ball. On the field goal, we were three runs and two passes and one of those was a drop. On the touchdown drive we were six runs and two passes and one of the passes went for a touchdown. Again, it is driven off of positive run plays. We were not able to do that in a lot of the drives and again that is across the board. There is enough blame to go around as far as defense giving up field position, giving up time of possession. They were able to see that. You could tell, Coach Drinkwitz talked about that last week, and Ryan Walters, their defensive coordinator, talked about that last week -- (offense and defense) complementing each other the way we play, running the ball and being physical and keeping them off-balance, controlling a lot of the games and playing good defense and that is exactly what they did to us. They beat us and they beat us convincingly but kind of beat us at our own game. They were more physical. I felt like defensively at times you put on that tape and see how hard our guys were playing to the bitter end but there were times when we just weren’t sharp. A two-yard loss turned into a three-yard gain. That is kind of the story and that is not being on-point across the board. When that happens obviously it’s on me. And I know people are going to say, ‘Ah, yeah, there he is saying that,’ but it is true. I have to somehow reach these guys to get them on point. They are strong men that are trained, that have enough in their tank. And they have to do their part. They have to sleep, they have to get their rest, they have to come prepared to practice because it is going to be a grueling year. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. You are going to play Georgia this week and I told them after a victory and told them after a loss, go get in an ice bath and get a bunch of ice on your body because you are all banged up because we have to go back to work, that is just the way it is. That is what I said after the Tennessee game and we didn’t respond. I can tell you this, Missouri wanted it more Saturday and that is on me.” 

On Georgia and any new wrinkles they have from past seasons …

“Very similar the way they’ve been. I think defensively, (they are) continually getting better and better with recruiting and what they do. They’re explosive on defense. They could really create negative plays and create turnovers and be very disruptive. Offensively, very similar to the way they’ve been, still very physical with talented running backs. They have a hard match-up in the slot, with number 10 (Kearis Jackson), he’s a handful; big wide-out, number one (George Pickens) on the outside. They’re typical Georgia, physical and explosive. Create pinch sets, create some tough match ups on what they do. Very talented team and well coached.”

On being hesitant on quarterback run game … 

“I think when it comes to the QB read in the run game … you know, I don’t believe that. I said it a week ago in here I thought he was decisive on certain things. They’re going to make mistakes, not all of our quarterbacks are going to be perfect on their runs reads as far as giving it to the back or pulling it. Sometimes there’s some gray there and they’re not always going to be perfect and we understand that. On our run-pass options, our RPOs, we’re very clear on that and we need to be on point with that and that we need to improve on. To be effective offensively we have to be able to execute that. We have not done that. As far as him (Terry Wilson) being decisive, I thought he has been decisive and has been tough in the run game. There was a play Saturday, that we’ll show him that he was indecisive as far as how to run the ball. He went lateral. He had the right read. He had a correct read.  He pulled it and just kind of ran lateral and we had a two-yard run. We had a middle-third safety tackling him. That can’t happen. He’s a better athlete than that. That should have at least five, six, seven, maybe more if he makes that guy miss. And I think that may be the play you’re talking about. That was a tentative run but that was one. In other times, on predetermined quarterback run game I thought he’s run hard and stuck it inside and read the reads and he’s been a tough runner. There was one play on Saturday that I think you’re referring to that I may agree with but other than that I thought he’s done a pretty good job. Again, we have to do better at the RPOs. The run reads, it’s either going to be a give to the running back or a Q (keeper). They’re going to make a few mistakes on that and there’s a little gray. On the RPOs, it’s clean and we need to be clean and we need to be 100 percent on that.”

On Akeem Hayes’ status …

“We’ll see. He’s working his way back in and we’ll see if he can do that.”

On the offensive line and what they need to improve on …

“I don’t know what Drake (Jackson) said (after the game) because I didn’t read any of it but I’m sure they were not pleased. To me, again, they are no different than the whole team.  I don’t want to finger-point at them because I thought it was across the board that we didn’t play up to our level of expectation as far as straining, and details, and doing things right.  I felt like they were no different than the team. They had their moments when they were good and then they had their moments when they weren’t doing what we expect of them. So, we expect more. I think they expect more of themselves. We need to play better. “

On Beau Allen and if he is in the quarterback mix …

“He is in the mix. It’s difficult, as you can imagine, to get three guys game reps during the week, getting them game ready. That part of it is tough because all the quarterbacks need the reps. They need the looks and that’s where it gets … there’s a fine line there with running our receivers into the ground but also getting the looks for the quarterbacks at game speed. It’s hard getting three quarterbacks looks but he’s been impressive. I’ve said that from the beginning. He’s a guy that definitely has some great ability and anticipation and can throw the ball, so we’ll see where it goes. It’s hard to get three guys ready but yes, he is in the mix, he is getting reps. He has been impressive, so we’ll see where it goes. I think today, there’s nothing major but I don’t think Terry (Wilson) is able to practice today from what my trainers have told me, with a minor injury, so he’ll get a lot of reps today, he and Joey (Gatewood).”

On Missouri running outside zone blocking and how to combat that …

“We knew that going into the game. That’s what they do. They run the zone, or they run the GT coming back. They do a nice job dressing thing up with motions and deception coming at you, running the GT back. We know that, work that all week, the outside zone. Obviously, his system is very similar to Louisville, being that their systems are very close as far as running outside zone. We got reached. We got cut off a couple times. What was aggravating is we had a lot of negative yardage plays, or stops for little gain, but then we gave up aggravating yards. They were oozing us. They were effective on third downs, as I said after the game just the fact that they had 20 third downs is not a good statistic for us defensively. They controlled the ball way too much, had way too many snaps and too many first downs and that really hinders our offense as well. So, as a team we didn’t do our job. The outside zone, there was a variety of things that did hurt us from time to time. Some of it was tempo, some of it was formation into the boundary, some of it was so many plays, we had some guys getting reached, there were other times we knocked it out pretty good. There’s a variety of things but nothing we haven’t seen and nothing we haven’t defended before.”

On mixing in some of the younger wide receivers and if that telegraphs certain plays …

“No, I don’t think it telegraphs. I think we have to continue to work them in and continue to give them reps. You’ll see Izayah (Cummings) continue to push for reps during the week and Michael Drennen continue to push for reps. We’ll look at all options. They are getting better and we need to continue to push those guys.”

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