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Mark Stoops Previews Georgia

It's Monday and Mark Stoops got up to the podium to preview week 6 of the season. You know the drill. Here are the quotes from his weekly press conference.


Opening Statement…

“Obviously, coming off a big victory, really just want to give a shoutout and big appreciation for the great fan base. I thought it was a tremendous atmosphere at noon. As I mentioned last Monday, I didn’t think that was going to be a problem and it was really a great atmosphere. Again, credit to our coaches and our players, I thought they came out very fast and we had a very disciplined week at practice and a sense of urgency just to get better. As I say to you all the time, we always want to win, it’s just about the preparation and the discipline throughout the week to put yourself in a position to be successful. I think that shows, we continue to work that way, then good things are ahead. As I mentioned postgame, there were stretches in that game where we played some very good football and there were some areas where we still need to improve. Again, I appreciate and credit our coaches and our players for the hard work they put into taking care of that victory to put us in a position for another big game this week."

“I think it goes without saying, the challenge to go on the road, to Athens, to play Georgia, what a great opportunity. You have to credit Coach Kirby Smart, his staff, his players for what they have done and the consistency that they have had for many years. In particular the past two, to go on and win back-to-back national championships is very difficult to do and they do a great job. Everybody knows the players that they have, and it is certainly a uniquely talented football team across the board. They do a great job of recruiting. The players are very good players but they work hard. They’re fundamentally sound and obviously they’re well coached."

“For us, it’s about us again, we need to go back this week and continue to build, continue to look at the way we’ve been practicing, the way we’ve been improving and look to take another step here this week. So that’s the challenge for us, to look to continue to grow. I think we left a lot on the field (vs. Florida). There’s a lot of things we can improve on and we have to concentrate on that. I think it does give us confidence to show you what we can do when we put it together, but it has to motivate us to work on the areas where we are falling short because we are going to need to play a complete game here this week.”

On a preview of the Kentucky-Georgia matchup…

“It’s a challenge, obviously. It’s a real challenge playing those guys. As I mentioned, I think they’re just a very good team. They are obviously talented, that goes without saying. I think I mentioned a year ago postgame and throughout the year, I don’t think they get enough credit for how well they’re coached as well.”


On the offensive line’s performance against Florida…

“I thought they obviously played their best game of the year. They took some great pride in just straining, of executing. We’ve talked about the communication and I thought there would be an improvement there with Eli (Cox) at center and I think that showed improvement in the second week (of Cox starting at center). I just think their overall commitment and attitude the past several weeks paid off some in that game because they were obviously very motivated to get some movement at the first level and to really strain. They did a good job.”


On only giving up four sacks through Week 5…

“I think that you could spread the credit around. I think the offensive line has done a much better job, our communication has been much better and we’ve been on the same page and working hard to communicate with all the different things that you see. I think Devin (Leary) and his awareness and his ability to move in the pocket and I also believe I have to give credit to the staff for putting them in a position to protect and move the pocket and take your shots and pick your protections at the right time.”

On what you attribute Georgia’s success to and is there any part of his program that you can incorporate here…

“I mean I said it three times already. You’d have to be a moron not to appreciate what they do. They are pretty impressive. It’s all levels. They recruit at a very high level, they obviously work extremely hard at recruiting, they can recruit, they have a good base, but they work hard at it. They do a good job of recruiting and evaluating talent. They develop their talent and they coach them really well. You put all of those things together and it’s a pretty good combination.”

On if you plan to bring younger wide receivers on against Georgia…

“Yeah, I think we're going to have to. We’re going to have to bring Anthony Brown-Stephens along and Dekel (Crowdus) and I’ve mentioned Dekel earlier because he has shown flashes and he’s really worked hard. Opportunities are tough when we are in these big games. But he’s a guy that I have trust in. He’s worked hard and hopefully, he’s going to continue to step up as well.”

On if you know which players will be available…

“No. I can’t get into all that right now. We really don’t. We’ll see how the week goes.”

On the message to the wide receivers…

“Well, I think you saw some improvement in that area. For instance, Barion (Brown) when he caught it a seven- or eight-yard hitch, turn, press upfield, finish that play, get the first down instead of coming up a half-yard short. That’s an improvement. Some guys finishing some catches, I don’t think we need to over-coach that or overanalyze that. These are good players that work hard, that care. I think it’s quite obvious we need to continue to work as a group, not just as any individual player, but with the quarterbacks, tight ends, backs, receivers, all getting on the same page and executing at a higher level. We’re going to need to execute at a higher level in the pass game as we move forward.”

On Brock Bowers…

(Coach says “Whew!” in the middle of the question, eliciting laughter from the media)

“Wow. Absolute freak. Absolute freak. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. What an incredible player. He’s selfless. You could tell he’s a complete player. He plays well without the football. He plays well with the football. He’s a team guy. You could tell that’s a great guy to work around right there. He steps up when they need him to but you know (he’s a) very unique player. I had the opportunity to be at Arizona when Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) was there and you know they’re just different players. Both unbelievably great and talented, just different, this guy’s something I haven’t seen before.”

On Carson Beck…

“I see a very good player that’s getting more and more comfortable every game. Heck, he’s throwing, I want to say, 70 percent completion percentage. Their yards per attempt is high as well, it’s over nine. When you’re throwing it 70% and over nine yards (per) completion, he’s playing at a very good level. And he’s just getting some guys back too. He’s getting his running backs back healthy. He’s getting (Ladd) McConkey back healthy. So, they’re getting better and better.”

On if Georgia’s offensive scheme is much different that years past…

“Not a ton. They still are very creative. Is there some differences? Of course, but they’re still Georgia, right? They still have incredible players, their run game is a bit of everything. They run zone, the zone schemes. They run gap schemes, they run their toss plays, they’ve always run. Very good with the play-action off of it. And how they get the ball to Bowers is very unique. They could get the ball to him many different ways. So, they’ve done a really good job.”

On Alex Afari Jr. and Keaten Wade making plays…

“Yeah, I think both of them really did play better. Alex, I think, it was a carryover. He’s been practicing better. I think he carried right over to the (game) field, just a greater sense of urgency. He made really strong tackles in the open field that we needed to, against some very talented players. And Keaton has been just solid. I think he did take another step up and I think with confidence and just his ability. I think last Monday I mentioned it, that he’s just been a steady player for us and really playing some good ball.”

On if you can build on the clean game you had against Florida…

“We need to. You need to build on that. I think you all can sense it. I’ve been honest in here the past couple of weeks and I feel like things were in place for us to take a jump. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. It wasn’t for a lack of a plan. There was just some minor execution things that we knew we could get fixed, and we still have to. I think it can give us confidence to know what we can do. Also, there’s still that discontent because we know we can be better. We know we left plays out there on the field. We know we are going to have to improve with the challenge that starts this week. You have to continue to play clean and you have to improve on those areas.”

On the guys coming along behind Kenneth Horsey…

“We’re getting better. It would be nice to have Kenneth back, just with all the experience that he has and the size and everything. Dylan [Ray] has done a good job. He has stepped up and he is battling and working really hard. We have a really great appreciation for him. As I mentioned, his natural position may be at tackle, but he’s playing guard and he’s playing it very well. He goes in there against Florida and we’re able to rush the ball for over 300 yards, so he’s obviously done a good job.”

On moving Jager Burton back to guard…

“I think it helps him individually because it unloads a lot of pressure off him. The center, not only with the snaps, but with the IDs [identifications] and communications, there’s a lot of pressure on him. You can see we put more on Eli [Cox] and Eli has the experience, and he has led us and he has done a really good job. That’s the second part of your answer. How has it helped? The experience and communication with Eli taking over a lot those responsibilities.”

On Wilson Berry’s tackle after the blocked extra point…

“It was really impressive, really impressive. He took great pride in it. He ran him down, made a strong tackle, and he made sure to roll on top of him and give him a little (pause, laughter from the audience), you know what I mean? I really appreciate that. I think you all know and we know the importance of saving those two points and you do, too. That’s a three-point swing if they get it in the endzone there. That was just great effort and it showed some unique skills there, getting him down.”

On Devin Leary’s passes being batted down at the line of scrimmage…

“The first touchdown pass that he threw, he threw it completely sidearm, so he can change his arm angle. He completely threw it from the hip and threw a nice ball and, obviously, Ray [Davis] did a great job of finishing. The arm angle was impressive as well. Some of that is he has to feel that. He has to adjust his arm angle once in a while. Some of it you’re not going to control. We get tips as well. We’re playing against dudes with some length and there’s some big bodies in there, so we have to look at where we’re throwing, when we’re throwing it, things of that nature.”

On Darrion-Henry Young…

“It’s a great example of taking care of yourself. As I tell players all the time---some believe you, some don’t, some buy in, some don’t---but it’s not about anybody else, it’s about yourself. It’s about continuing to prepare and becoming the best player you can be by working every day and buying into that. He’s a great example of that because he’s getting better. He’s giving us quality snaps right now. We’re able to have a rotation at the defensive line and keep guys fresh. As you go through this year in this conference, you’re going to get beat up, so it’s a great example for Darrion—it’s a credit to him for how hard he’s worked and to continue to believe and buy in and not be selfish.”

On getting your team ready for this type of stage…

“I’d like to believe that you have to learn from every opportunity. Each time you put yourself in a position … again, it’s about us and how will we handle it, how will we play? We’re on the road. With Vandy’s stadium being torn up and not having the ability to have that many fans there in an SEC environment, this will be the first time we take it in this type of environment. So, how are we going to handle that? I think every time you put yourself in that position, you better learn from it. You better grow from it in some way, shape or form. For us, it’s about continuing to build, continuing to play well, play clean, and do the things we’re doing.”

On if you knew Ray Davis had that kind of game in him, knocking linebackers back, finishing plays, carrying guys into the end zone …

“I do because I’ve seen it. Maybe I haven’t seen a game like that (media laughs) but yeah I knew he had it in him. Really proud of him because he really did some good things. Obviously, he was the first one to credit his O-line and tight ends and the people around him and that’s a fact, that’s true. He couldn’t do it alone but he definitely did some great individual things as well. Which you know I talk about all the time, you are going to have to. When you play games like this and play Georgia and there is good football around them there is great individual plays and some great individual efforts as well.”

On the biggest improvement you need to see this week, both offensively and defensively, to play Georgia…

“Offensively we have to have some continuity and improve some of the basics of the pass game, we’ve done it throughout the year. As a matter of fact, until this past game, we were throwing the ball much cleaner than running it, this week it was vise-versa. We have to get back to being efficient throwing the football and we have to be balanced again. There was a stat I was looking at I know it’s ridiculous, it was something that you have to have some yards rushing or you don’t have a good chance of beating Georgia. We are going to try and be balanced, we can’t do it one way or the other. Balance will be key. Defensively, we need to continue to – we’re making big plays, we’re being very disruptive. The defensive line has been extremely disruptive, we’ve been very strong at the point of attack in the run game and also creating pressure. We’ve created some turnovers and we have to continue to that.”

On your team finding different ways to win…

“I think it says a lot and even last week I pointed that out on Monday, our yards per carry, it’s not like it was bad. I think we were more consistent this past week on creating some very explosive runs but not taking as many negative yarding runs as well. For our team it gives them confidence to be who we are, we want to be a balanced team, but again, we want to be physical.”

On your guys fighting through adversity, example of long pass against Andru Phillips…

“I love the way he didn’t blink. He felt good, he felt like he had a good idea where that ball was going. The player from Florida made a great catch and Dru (Andru Philips) didn’t get off on the right foot as far as his timing. He can play it better than that, he will, but he didn’t flinch. He knew, he came right back and played and made some big plays for us the rest of the game.”

On Jeremy Flax winning SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week…

“Jermey has really been stepping it up, you can see the great size he has and the physical nature that he can play with. It is, once again, just really nice to see him to continue to grow and get better and improve. We need him to be, he can be a very impactful player for us, we need him to continue to improve.”

On Darrion-Henry Young’s improvement…

“You know why he has improved, you know what I am going to say, because he just stuck to the process. He stuck to working and taking the coaching and truly buying in. He brings some athleticism, he brings some quick twitch, he brings some things that he can do.”

On not being so frustrated after the Florida game like maybe you were after the four prior games…

“Well, I said I wasn’t pissed off on Saturday (laughter from media), I didn’t say anything about that.”

On slowing down a guy like Brock Bowers…

“Well, I mean, heck — he made back-to-back one-handed catches the other day. They had him covered pretty good, so I don’t think we could put any more than two on him at any one point in time. I think Brock is going to get his. He’s going to make plays. It’s kind of like going up against Michael Jordan or someone like that — you know they’re going to get theirs. But, we have to compete at a high level. We have to be on point with our coverage. We have to compete at a high level, we have to win our fair share of on one-on-ones as well. Because he’s going to make some plays, but we have to make ours when we have coverage, when we have a one-on-one, when we have a contested play with him we have to win our fair share as well.”

On what makes the Kentucky-Georgia game so physical each year…

“I think both teams they know — with us, we try to build around that. We have a long, physical defense and up front, we’ve always prided ourselves on being able to run the ball. It was nice to get back to that this past week, and hopefully we’ll be able to match their physicality because they certainly are big, long, and athletic across the board. But our team will rise to the challenge. I think we’ve gone through a tough stretch here where our guys are beat up a little bit but, you know, no rest for the weary. We got to get back out here today and have a great week of prep.”

On D’Eryk Jackson being all over the field…

“Yeah, he’s really a solid guy. A lot of things he does goes unnoticed sometimes, because he’s in the right place most of the time — and is really good in coverage and has a good feel for things. He did play very well, and matter of fact he’s going to be our defensive player of the game and so he did some good things.”

On Deone Walker dropping back in coverage on Trevin Wallace’s interception…

“Well, like Brad [White] said, he likes his job so I don’t think he’s going to be dropping him back too much, or too often, because he’s too good of a rusher. But he’s one of those guys, he’s disruptive in a lot of ways and like Deone [Walker] said — I heard the quote when I saw the film on Sunday. He said he dropped back and tried to play big and he did. He was out there stretched out and played big. He’s a big dude, and I think wherever he’s at, you can feel his presence. He does a lot of things that goes unnoticed, but we notice it when we watch the film and our players see him. He’s a very disruptive guy no matter what he does.”

On recruiting the state of Michigan…

“We’ve had some great players from there, and Deandre [Square] and him [Deone Walker], so it’s been great.”

On the state of Michigan being good to you…

“Yeah, without a doubt — it’s been very good, and we got to get back in there.”


Kentucky will head to Athens this weekend to take on the Bulldogs in a rowdy night time environment.



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