Mark Stoops spoke to the media after Kentucky’s loss against Florida

Mark Stoops post Florida

University of Kentucky Football Media Conference

Saturday, September 23 2017

Mark Stoops

MARK STOOPS: “As you can imagine, very heartbreaking loss for us and our team. I love our team’s commitment and work ethic and desire. They played unbelievably hard tonight — and played winning football. And I really appreciate them and the way they put themselves in a position all week to win the football game. And there’s quite a few plays in games and you never know which ones are going to decide the football game. And there’s probably one of 12 plays in there that changed the game. And it’s very disappointing that we didn’t come up with those plays. The breakdown in communication defensively on the two plays are really a sore spot because they stick out and it takes away from the great passion and energy that the team, that our team played with. We played winning football. We have to get those things fixed and I accept responsibility for those and we’ll get those plays fixed and do a better job. So, again, I thank the fans. The atmosphere was phenomenal. Greatly appreciate their support and energy, and I know our players did as well. I’ll open it up for questions.”

Q. The receiver was standing on your sideline and nobody near him. What went on there?
MARK STOOPS: “There should have been a guy there and I should have called it (a timeout) and, quite honestly, we were looking at the unbalanced formation. I was looking at the set and I was fixed on our fits because we were having some issues obviously with that set. And we were looking at exactly the formation in there, the bunch set, and by the time we realized that there was nobody on him, I tried to call a timeout and it was too late. I was fractions off of getting the timeout. So Derrick (Baity) said that he did not see the player out there.”

Q. The one at the end?
MARK STOOPS: “We subbed and Jordan (Griffin) came out when the other corner came out. We were getting into a big goal-line set and both corners came out and we left them uncovered. That’s our fault. We tried to change personnel groups too late. We should have lived with the call that we had and tried to sub for bigger people – and that can’t happen in that situation. Our players can’t hear. It’s loud and they can’t hear and the communication is very – as you guys know – with the crowd noise with offense and I know it’s like that on defense, it’s the defense at home. And we have got to communicate much better. We have got to do a better job of coaching them.”

Q. Did you see the holding call on that last drive? What are your thoughts on that?
MARK STOOPS: “I didn’t. Did you? No. I didn’t see it. I mean, that’s obviously a heartbreaking penalty at that point.”

Q. Does it hurt even more because Benny (Snell) was 10 yards down the field when the flag was thrown?
MARK STOOPS: “Is that right? I didn’t know. I had no idea. We ran the ball there because we were in field-goal range and they were playing split safeties with two high and we felt like we can get a good five, six yards and be in comfortable range for Austin (MacGinnis) and we broke it for whatever, 10 or 15, and it’s a heartbreaking call.”

Q. Did you think that the defense wore down on those last couple drives?
MARK STOOPS: “We did. We gotta do a better job. Yeah, we probably need to look at that again. And I know when you’re playing these games at home and that energy – and the guys are excited and we talked about that all week, starting Monday, about keeping your energy, because it was going to be 60 minutes. And this one went down to the last seconds, and we knew that. There’s probably a few guys in there that we have to do a better job of spelling them.”

Q. What’s the status of Derrick Baity?
MARK STOOPS: “I’m not sure. I mean, he had a head injury.”

Q. Could you sense in the atmosphere tonight sort of the hopefulness of this fan base?
MARK STOOPS: “Of course. Of course I did. I appreciate the support, I really do. It was a great atmosphere and I would like to see it like that every week, and I realize it’s up to us. I imagine if we play like that and the players leave it on the field and play with that kind of energy and desire and passion then we’ll have a great fan base like that every week. I know it’s up to us to play like that, and as I told these players, that one’s going to hurt because of what we have invested. These players have worked to put them self in a position to play like that and sometimes you’re going to come up on the wrong end. That definitely hurts when you invest what we have invested.”

Q. Did it feel tonight, aside from the mistakes and the end result, could you feel some of the progress you made as a program that you didn’t do a bunch of gimmicky stuff? There was no desperation. You guys lined up and had a lead against Florida.
MARK STOOPS: “Yeah — yes, I definitely know when you’re out there just playing football, playing our base stuff and there’s certainly things we have to do better and I have to do better, but it is nice to know that you have a team built that can play with Florida, because that’s still a very talented football team and our players laid it on the line.”

Q. What do you tell them after something like this, what do you say to them?
MARK STOOPS: “I tell them just, a lot what I just told you guys, in that it hurts like that because of what they have done, what they have put into it. Those guys, you could have heard a pin drop in there because they’re deflated because of the amount of work and how hard they wanted, how much they wanted to win that game. The amount of work that these guys have done since last December to put yourself in a position to win that game, and really quite honestly, years, years and years of hard work to put yourself in a position to win those games. That’s what hurts. Some of those players have been grinding for five years, four years, three years, and I told them that we’re going to win together and we’re going to lose together. And they played well enough to win the game and I appreciate their effort and I got to do a better job in certain areas to put us in a position to win.”

Q. Is there anything with the snapping? It was an issue again tonight on the one drive.
MARK STOOPS: “I mean, what — we snapped, I don’t know, I could count the reps, but I mean hundreds and hundreds a day, so we’ll continue to snap as many as we can. I think some of it gets the moisture, the sweat and that on his hands.”

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