Kentucky Blog - College

Everything Mark Stoops had to say at Media Day, via ASAP Sports.

What stood out to you? Weigh in on the House of Blue.

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COACH STOOPS: I don't know exactly where we're at, we'll see. We are going to go out there and we are going to get to practice today, and we're going to go about our business and we're going to grind hard each and every day to make this team better, and we'll see where that goes. We'll talk about that at the end of the year.

Q. You had to kind of hang up your whistle this number, being a keynote speaker. When you woke up today, it's football season, what did you think?
COACH STOOPS: I was excited, I really was. To be honest with you, I didn't sleep very good last night. I was ready to go. I think that excitement, that anticipation, we had a great meeting last night with our players, very attentive, and they are excited to get going, coaches are excited. So you know, we're ready to get out there.

Q. Are you seeing good leadership?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I am. I am. I'm seeing good leadership, and one guy that jumps out at me in particular is Avery, that really jumps out as a very strong leader and there's others, as well, but there's others. But he's a guy that he's a cut above right now as far as leadership, and that's a good guy to start with.

Q. What about the positivity that this program does‑‑
COACH STOOPS: That's a good point. I have been proud of our guys for the most part. We are not perfect by any stretch, but our guys have done a good job of trying to stay out of trouble. When you have 105 guys in that room, we are not going to be perfect. But the guys have done a good job.
There has been a positive buzz. Yeah, again, I think our players, again, they feel that. They feel the positive energy. They know there's a lot of people that have great interest in what they are doing. They feel the support throughout the state and they are excited. They want to go out and produce for the people of this state, for themselves, for this university so we can have a lot of pride in what we're doing. So I think that's a good part of what's going on.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it is a good position and we have some depth. A couple of those guys are banged up or had issues in the past with backs and so on, and so it's good that we have good number there, and it gives us a chance to be a little more versatile. Neal will be up here in a little bit; you can grill him on that.
But it gives us a chance to do some different things. You know, we will do that and we will do that as a football team. We will adapt to the best players we have and be able to be multiple in what we're doing.

Q. Talk about in general being happy to have a full room and is Tommy Mainord the happiest guy? How does that affect your ability to practice?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it will, it will affect our ability to practice and it's great to have that depth. And with the practice, you guys will get in there at some point and be able to see that, but we are going to do two separate practices. We call it two spots. Basically ones and threes will be on one field, and twos and fours will be on another, so there's a whole bunch of reps going on, so we need that depth.

Q. What have the quarterbacks done since the last time you saw them‑‑
COACH STOOPS: I think just managing the offense, being in command of that huddle; the operation, the speed at which we are doing things and obviously leadership.

Q. Will you make changes in the spring about how much time you spend on the field?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it will change a little bit. I will be more involved with the defense as far as defensive meetings, the preparation, and being out on the field and being involved. I will certainly have my presence in the special teams meetings and in the offensive meetings, as well, but I will ‑‑ I will be involved.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: My staff has been‑‑ the rules are what they are. So we are going to play by the rules that we have.
You know, obviously it's a little bit interesting for myself, being a defensive coach my whole career and hiring a person offensively who is going to run the tempo.
So I understand the good and the bad that goes with it, and it's our decision to go with that style because it gives us the best opportunity to move the football and to ultimately win games.
The bad is just when it doesn't go well that your defense is going to be out there more. That's a fact. And you know, so sometimes the numbers lean that way, but we are in a winning business. The bottom line is to try to win games.
So the rules are what they are. So I certainly don't have the time or the staff to do a bunch of research to see with injuries and all that. That's for somebody else to make that decision, not me.

Q. Can you talk about letting some of the veteran guys know that they are your guys now? How do you go about doing that and how do you go about building relationships with the guys?
COACH STOOPS: It's just about trust and the only way you build trust is you earn it, and by the work that we do and what we're doing and the relationships that we are building.
We are not there yet. We are not perfect. We are still working on that but we'll get closer as this camp goes on.

Q. As way for him to get cleared out and everything done‑‑
COACH STOOPS: He has finished up all his classes. So we're waiting on that, yeah. Hopefully soon. Hopefully soon.

Q. Do you have any experience about being patient with yourself, knowing you can only do so much?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, daily, it is, it's hard. We have preached that to the players, and it's true. You know, we are going to build this program brick by brick, and we have to lay the foundation. We have to do our work each and every day. There's no shortcuts. I said that from day one. And you know, we want to go to work every day, give an honest day's work and we expect our players to do the same thing and just lay the foundation and get better. That's all we can control.

Q. What kind of look do you think your defense will have?
COACH STOOPS: Well, you know, we'd better have some toughness about us and we'd better player hard. It's very important, defense, but you can overcome a lot of things. It doesn't take any talent to know what you're doing and to play hard and to play relentless. You put that together and you can do some good things.

Q. Early in your career, you worked a lot with the secondary and had some profound turnarounds. What are the keys‑‑
COACH STOOPS: I don't know if there's any one specific area that you can get into detail about what I'm doing with the secondary, but I think a lot of that has to do with the system and what you're doing to put them in a position to be successful.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: Well, he looks very good, and from everything I've heard from our strength coaches is he had a great summer. He looks very good right now. He's in great shape and just watching the film and knowing the type of competitive person he is, I would expect him to come in and contribute this year.

Q. Are there any guys that you go, wow‑‑
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, they all looked good, they really did. They looked good. I liked the way they went about their business this summer and you could see the results. You'll get a chance to see them here shortly. But yeah, I don't know if there's any one person, because there's really a lot of them looked a lot better.

Q. Does Neal have full authority with the quarterback position, or do you make that call?
COACH STOOPS: No, I'll make that call. Of course, I trust Neal and he's ‑‑ I think as we go through camp, we'll work together on that. But ultimately, it will have to be my decision with great input from Neal.

Q. The quarterback ‑‑ does that apply?
COACH STOOPS: I think as we go through camp and we build what we are doing here, there's a trust factor there. Our players need to trust that we are going to put every one of them in a position to be successful and they have to trust and be confident that whoever is behind center can lead this team and help us win.
And that goes for any position. You know, there's going to be injuries and there's going to be things happen; there's already been attrition, and it's got to be the‑next‑man‑up mentality.

Q. Are you comfortable going running multiple quarterbacks, or do you like one guy?
COACH STOOPS: I think anybody would like to have one guy. But again you have to make the right choice and if it takes game reps, then that's what we're going to do.

Q. Not being here during the summer, how much does that impact or will that not be a factor?
COACH STOOPS: It will certainly hurt him a little bit, set him back a little bit. Yeah, we'd prefer to have him here all summer so he can just get acclimated to the conditioning if nothing else. Yeah, the good news is that we have quite a few practices before the first game.

Q. Inaudible ‑‑ are they ready to work with‑‑
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, they are, we'll see if their production will be up there like some of the guys that we've been around, but they really are, ability‑wise and I really like the way they go about their business. They are very sincere and they are competitive guys by nature and so you know, I like where they are at.

Q. Four‑down linemen ‑‑
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we are four down for the most part. We'll get multiple on some third downers and certain teams there are spread packs and we can mix it up, and we have the ability to mix it up, but we are primarily a four down.

Q. Last year's defensive line‑‑ the turnovers, what can you do in practice to help that?
COACH STOOPS: Well, you have to emphasize it. And I've been on both ends of that. I've been around some defenses that we have gotten all kinds of turnovers and sometimes it doesn't go your way.
But the bottom line is, is that you do have to emphasize it and you have to practice that, and so on. We'll do all those things necessary.

Q. Are you more concerned with depth, or what would it be?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, of course, I think it's fair to say that depth would be the first thing and then the second thing would be explosive playmakers.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: Well, Kory, really in our system, we have some spots for him, as well. So if you're a good football player, we'll find a position to help us. We need every player we can get and Kory is a guy that will be doing some of those multiple things for us, as well.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: Well, to this point, it's been just an understanding, because everything was so new to them. You know, even just the operation of getting the ball out quicker and just fundamentally, let alone the scheme.
So there was a lot for them to take in in the spring. That's why it will be interesting to see who progressed through the summer and then who jumps out at us through this fall camp.
So they have quite a bit on their plate for the first 15 practices, so you could understand why I would be hesitant to try to name a starter and force that issue when we weren't ready to do that.

Q. Talk about how you go about‑‑ do any of those guys‑‑
COACH STOOPS: I hope so. Sometimes it's hard for O‑line men. Sometimes that's one position where you prefer to let them grow up a little bit and let them gain some strength. Some decent D‑Linemen in this league.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: Well, I just think that's where us coaches are most comfortable, at least I am. I'm comfortable out there working with the guys and you feel like you're making progress with your team and with our program. And so that's why it's exciting for me to get out there and to just be around those guys is to help them get better and become a better football team.

Q. You mentioned the quarterback having reps‑‑
COACH STOOPS: Absolutely, yes, I think it's definitely the same thing. We feel like, again, we have had good leadership with Avery and some guys through the summer. They did some good work with seven‑on‑seven on their own from what I understand and we'll see how much they did and how much they progressed. But it will be interesting to see.

Q. You talked about needing to get better‑‑ expertise, helpful to know where you were throughout camp and monitoring those guys?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I will be more involved than I was in the spring. In the spring, it was just getting to know all of our players and managing the whole team and of course I still need to do that.
But I will get in there and meet with the defensive backs and coach the defensive backs and assist with Coach Eliot and all of the defensive coaches and helping. It's all‑hands‑on‑deck for us and we need everybody we can to help us get better.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH STOOPS: Possibly. Austin is a great young man. He's a hard worker, and we'll see. You know, we'll see where he's at. But yes, he could help us.

Q. What's the status on Melvin Lewis?
COACH STOOPS: He's finished and he's got one class he's finishing up now.

Q. So do you think he'll be eligible for this year?
COACH STOOPS: That's what the plan is.

Q. Your top three guys are all seniors, who behind them do you feel‑‑
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, you're right, that was an area for us, that's one of the reasons we went after Melvin. The nice thing for him is he is three‑for‑two, as well, so if he misses a great deal of camp and can't get caught up, we'll see where he's at. But he will be needed in the future, for sure.

Q. Any concerns about the expectations of the fans?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think we're all excited. I want the fans excited about what we're doing. I want the fans excited about the hard work that these players have done.
Again, I've said that before. I think that, you know, most people understand where we're at as a program and where we want to get to. We have a lot of work to do, and we're excited about doing it.

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