clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mark Stoops previews Texas A&M, will not appeal Kash Daniel suspension

Stoops will face his former boss this week, but he’ll do so without his middle linebacker.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats may be 5-0, but they’ll get a major road test this week when they face the Texas A&M Aggies.

On Monday, head coach Mark Stoops met with the media to recap South Carolina, preview Texas A&M, and give updates on several players dealing with injuries and suspensions.

When it came to the Kash Daniel suspension for targeting in the 24-10 win over the Gamecocks, Stoops had a surprising answer as to if he would appeal the suspension for one half against Texas A&M.

“No, I didn’t even think about it” said Stoops. “I support the call. I have to, because again, the way the rule reads and I didn’t even question it at all, if it’s called on the field and they review it, if there is any contact at all with the facemask, then it’s going to be a penalty, and so I support the call.”

That means Kentucky will rely on true freshman Chris Oats as the starting middle linebacker for one half against the Aggies.

Here is a recap of everything Stoops said Monday, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Opening Statement…

“To wrap up with last week, I was really pleased with the start of the game this past week, really. The team did some really good things, in particular that first half. As I mentioned after the game, there are always opportunities that are left out there and we will focus on those things. Even early in that game, the first third down in the game there was a mental mistake. It’s a conversion. The next possession we feel a clear touchdown and then we get a procedure, and we get another procedure. Costs us four points right from the start, and that’s where we talked about handling the situation. I think our players were very excited to play at home, and a sellout crowd, and play well for our fans and for themselves.

“We really let the situation get the best of us a little bit in certain situations. It pops up a little bit when players try to do a little bit too much, too soon instead of just playing the game. Then there were other parts where it was just as good of football as we have played since I have been here, for a good portion of that first half. We did some very good things. I’m very pleased with a lot of things you could build off that. That first half just in general, there were some mistakes like we left four points on the board just clearly with the false starts, and then the third down miscommunication early where we felt we had a good play there as well.

“The rest of that first half, that was some really good football. Very, very proud of the team and their effort and how well we played there for a good stretch. Second half again, everybody’s talking about not scoring and that’s true. We definitely want to put the foot on the gas and continue to play well in the second half. But, I thought the opening drive of the second half was a fantastic drive. We had them completely off-balance and really threw it, and mixed up running it and throwing it.

“If you look back on it, you take a six-minute drive and take three points right there I think we’re all happy about that. We just missed the field goal. Miles (Butler) will make that the next time. We had an opportunity to get a little bit closer there as well. Even on the third down play if Terry (Wilson) goes to his last option and just checks it down, we’re going to get, even if we don’t get the first down we’re going to get some more yards and put it in a more manageable situation for the field goal. I thought it was a very good drive. Then they come back and they hit the fluke play where Lonnie (Johnson) misplays the ball, and it gets tight for a fraction there for a bit of the third quarter.

“The way our defense was playing and the way our offense was controlling the ball you always felt like they could go back to that. It was a big piece of it and if the long drive (by South Carolina), as I mentioned after the game, that one just took up so much time. We need to get some of those stops. We had opportunities to get stops there and didn’t off the field. To wrap it up, I think there were a lot of good things, a lot of things that we can do better. The team will be excited to see those things today and ready to improve.”

On if there were some things in the tool box that you might use in the second half…

“I don’t know about the toolbox. There are always game plans for certain games. You’re constantly growing and adding a few things here and there, a few wrinkles in a game plan.”

On if he has an update on Naasir (Watkins)…

“He’ll be out for a while. Just like I thought, he’ll be out for several weeks.”

On if this brand and quality of play was what he had in mind when he spoke about the team before the season started…

“It was. I was very confident in the team, just in what we were doing and our approach and the way we’ve been going about our business. I knew we had some good players that were really working hard and focused, and good leadership. My thoughts weren’t on (the team’s) record. My thoughts were on the preparation on where we were at through the summer, and getting ready to go.”

On Josh Allen’s play this season…

“So happy for Josh and our football team. Josh made a very detailed decision. He put a lot of thought into it. As I mentioned before, he and I had many conversations. I gave him a lot of information and he most definitely would be on an NFL roster this year. He decided to come back and make a difference for the rest of his life. He’s doing that. He’s playing some incredible football. I know statements get headlines so I have to be careful of how I phrase it with him, but he is playing some outstanding football. As good as I’ve seen with all the things he does and how versatile he is, and how hard he’s playing, and how dynamic he is, and his pass rushes, he’s doing good in coverage. He’s just doing a lot of things good.”

On if he could tell us what went into Allen’s decision to come back…

“No. I’m going to keep that between Josh and I. Let’s just say he put a lot of thought into that and there was a lot of information. I thought he was very mature in how he was going about making his decision. So I’m happy he’s playing the way he is for him, yes, personally.”

On his secondary and how they’ve played the last couple games…

“Really pleased with the secondary. Really doing some good things, really stepped up to the challenge. Holding each other accountable and competing at a high level. I thought the corners really played well again. They safeties did as well, all of them across the board. They are doing some good things, playing really hard, competing.”

On Darius West and what it means to have him all the way back…

“He definitely has a strong mentality and he has a great passion and desire to win. I think he will be the first to tell you that there’s things that he’s focusing on that continue to play better. He’s got some opportunity to make some interceptions there in that game that he’ll make. But, he’s doing good. I’m proud of him and pleased for him and the way he’s playing.”

On where West has improved…

“Just experience and just playing. There’s knowing the situations and experience and getting more reps.”

On how Jimbo Fisher hired him at Florida State and if they knew one another prior…

“No. I did not know Jimbo at all. It was a weird scenario. We got in touch with each other and I went down there, I think my last game, we got done playing at Arizona. We just beat USC at USC and got on a plane the next morning to go down and talk to him. Just went down and met him and his staff and talked with them for a day, or day and a half. It worked out and ended up having a real good stay there, really enjoyed my time there.”

On what his impressions of Jimbo when they first met…

“Let me go back. We did know each other, but obviously it wasn’t one of those guys where we just kept in contact all the time. So, I knew him from probably 15 years earlier, 20 maybe in the South Florida recruiting circuit, running into him down there and knowing him. So, we did have some relationship. I just thought that when I went to work for him that he was a guy that really, for being a first time head coach, was really extremely organized and very talented with what he was doing.”

On if he brought Jimbo to a UK basketball game…

“I didn’t bring him. He came and we met up here. He had a mutual friend I think with him and Coach Cal.”

On if he took anything he learned from Jimbo that he brought here…

“There are many things. I can’t get into all the specifics, but absolutely. I’ve talked about that for years. This is the first time we’ve played each other. You guys have heard me talk about him and credit him back for a lot of things for every year I’ve been here. I’ve learned different things from him, there’s no question.”

On what it’s going to be like having Jimbo on the opposing sideline…

“It won’t be any different, really, for me. I get fond memories, like I told you before going back to practices, because they were intense and fun sometimes competing with him. I have really good memories of coaching under him. I say that because clearly it’s not easy. There are some hard times. I was there from day one when he took that job over and believe me, it’s tough going through that. A lot of tough competitive days, and long hours, and steady grind but I look back at it with fond memories and learned a lot.”

On if it is strange preparing for a conference opponent after being here in his sixth year and still not having any film to go on…

“Yeah, that’s a little different. You always get some crossovers once in a while but A&M definitely for me is new and fresh, definitely not very familiar with them. It’s no different than playing a non-conference opponent. You just look at it and we attack every week and look at it and see what we’re going to do and little tweaks. What we do is what we do for the most part you just have to apply it to their offense. I will say this, he has a lot of offense, he can be very multiple and go a lot of different directions.”

On watching them (A&M) on film and saying ‘There’s the Jimbo wrinkle I expected’ or things he has seen before…

“Some things but clearly we all evolve and change but there’s some things and again I respect his mentality of how he goes about calling plays and the way he attacks the defenses and the way he coordinates.”

On how useful it is to have someone like Eddie Gran who has been under Jimbo to help this week or if it helps at all…

“I don’t think any of it really matters. The fact I was under him hasn’t really helped either. We’re new, that was years ago and everybody evolves. We’re much different right now than I was defensively then.”

On how his defense is different …

“We’re very different than when I was there.”

On appealing Kash Daniel’s suspension…

“No, I didn’t even think about it. I support the call. I have to, because again the way the rule reads and I didn’t even question it at all, if it’s called on the field and they review it, if there is any contact at all with the facemask then it’s going to be a penalty and so I support the call.”

On how the guys who replaced Kash performed…

“They played well. They did some good things. Chris (Oats) will get another opportunity this week and Jamin (Davis) will get some reps as well between Chris and Jamin we’ll play the mike (middle linebacker). I’m excited to watch them play again, just like with an injury, we never want to see that and we don’t want to see our guys get ejected and disqualified for a half either but with that being said, it always gives the next man an opportunity to go in there and see what he can do.”

On if there is a lot of coaching up for true freshmen who haven’t been a situation like that before going on the road…

“Oh yeah, there will be a lot of coaching up (laughter). How you can get them prepared for Kyle Field? Good luck with me simulating that (laughter).”

On what he gets when he is faced with a Jimbo Fisher-coached team in general…

“In general, I expect to see a well-coached, tough, hard-nosed football team and that’s Jimbo. Jimbo’s very detailed but he’s tough and hard-nosed and his teams usually reflect that.”

On the challenge of difficulty of running the ball in the second half and if it was anything South Carolina was doing…

“A little bit of both. I think the first, when you get off schedule things change a little bit. The first half drive was phenomenal and you come back and then you credit them and they were definitely … they won some one-on-ones where we won them in the first half and that’s part of it. There’s things that we can do better. There were some execution issues with holds and there were some missed assignments and just things we can clean up.”

On beating a ranked Florida in Gainesville, a Mississippi State ranked team here in Lexington, just beat South Carolina and being the underdog in all three games and now playing Texas A&M while being ranked 13th in the country. Do you still use this as a chip on your shoulder and hope someone tweets something bad about Benny Snell

“No, we don’t need that. We didn’t need it last week, we knew South Carolina was going to be a hungry football team. They’re a good well-coached team that we had beaten for several years and you knew they were going to come in with an attitude and an edge. We didn’t need any extra motivation last week. We needed to play a little bit cleaner football and we could’ve put that game away a lot earlier than we did. It’s going to be the same way this week. We have great respect for A&M and Jimbo, as I just mentioned, and playing in that environment is going to be a real challenge for our players but we don’t need any extra motivation. We want to try and get a win and we have to be able to handle that situation, handle that environment, handle the fact that it’s a big game on national TV and we have to get down to playing and executing good football.”

On Naasir Watkins’ injury and what he sees for Darian Kinnard as far as a guy who is going to help at that spot…

“As I mentioned, it is what I thought after the game. It’s going to be several weeks, however many I don’t know right now, but he’ll be out for a while and Darrian will fill in and he’ll back up both tackles to start with and we’ve been real close to playing Darrian anyway so, again, when he gets an opportunity to go in there and play we’ll be excited to see how he does.”

On if Darian has played in four games yet…

“No, he has not played in all four yet.”

On if he has played at all…

“Yes, he has.”

On what he sees from Terry Wilson

“Good player getting better with every opportunity. Still a young guy, but he’s getting better and has played a lot and a good dual-threat guy who always puts pressure on you and he’s getting better and better every week.”

On what he sees from Terry from game one to now…

“Just, again, comfort level. With the offense, what we’re trying to do is manage the games very well. He stood in the pocket and threw some good footballs and there’s times when he had the time to maybe go back one more (read) and so, like any quarterback, until you get in there and get those game reps it’s hard to simulate all of that but he’s doing some really good things and he’s really managing the game well.”

On two top running backs in this game with Trayveon Williams and Benny Snell

“They’re both very good backs. You know, every back has their own little unique style or maybe one guy is fast or physical but these two are very good football players. They’re both competitive as heck and both of them can hurt you, so you better play great team defense against both of these guys.”

On anticipating more people making Terry Wilson a one-dimensional quarterback who has to beat you with his arm …

“You can’t get more people than they put in the box against us, so they are always going to load up, they have to, they’re always going to load up against us.”

On confidence on the road after beating a team Florida…

“This is a new situation and a new week and again, how are we going to handle that? I expect our team to have a really good focus this week and ready to get back to work and that’s been the attitude of this team, that they’re always learning and growing and they’re not satisfied with what we’ve done and we’ve got to continue to stay hungry but stay hungry in that preparation. Like I said, it felt like we missed it a day or two last week and that’s a missed opportunity and we can’t do that and I think they understand that and they’ll be back, focused, and ready to go this week.”

On if Siheim King will still practice and prepare…

“Yeah, he is. He will, but we’ll go to other options before we go to that.”

On if we can play better than we have…

“Oh, there is no question. We expect to. I think our players know that and understand that and we left a lot out there. Again, with every opportunity you learn from it. Going back and playing at home and having opportunity to get a fifth win, a sell-out crowd, ‘how are you going to play?’ They’re excited, but we can handle certain situations better. Just starting, we got the ball on the one-yard line. We were about to roll in there and go up seven-nothing, and have two false starts. That in itself is not acceptable.”

On the satisfaction of the fan base buying in…

“We greatly appreciate that and rightfully so because the team has proven that. But, that’s what we need to do. I’ve always accepted that responsibility. The team needs to play how they have done that. They’ve been a hard-nosed, tough, disciplined football team and they’re competing as hard as they can and I think if you’re a true fan you can always respect that. And, we’re going to continue to try and do that and play that way and we greatly appreciate the support. I failed to mention that, I did the week before and forgot to mention that first thing in my press conference, but that was a fantastic environment. And again, thanks for the support because it makes a difference and that was a lot of fun. It was nice to play on a beautiful night and have a sell out and everyone enjoyed themselves.”

On rethinking plan for Chance Poore

“I haven’t been rethinking it, but the plan – you still have four games right now (that Poore could play and still have a redshirt). So that’s the nice thing, we’ll see if those opportunities pop up. But Miles (Butler), we have a lot of confidence in Miles. He’s going to do a good job, but we still have that opportunity on some longer field goals to use Chance, yes.”

On if you (Stoops) think about a situation where UK needs a long field goal to win game…

”Yeah, I do. You know, I’m just trying to pocket those four games right now (laughter). But, we put a lot of pressure on him in practice, and he works all the time and we expect him to step in there and hit that 55-yarder for a game win. (laughter) No problem (laughter), that’s why we recruited him.”

On how Calvin Taylor, Jr. has developed…

“He has gotten better every year. It’s really nice to see because, again, players get down on themselves, they get disappointed, they work hard and they all want to play. There is a guy that has taken years to develop himself to get in a position to when he goes into a game, how are you going to play. It’s not just a matter of playing. It’s a matter of going into a game and playing well. He has really worked hard and is maximizing his ability by the way he is approaching the game and the way he is working. It has taken years to develop him and he is producing. And so, I’m very happy for him and I appreciate our coaches’ effort in developing him.”

On if you (Stoops) has ever coached a guy (Calvin Taylor, Jr.) that is that tall and that effective on the defense…

“No, not that tall.”

On how Calvin Taylor, Jr. is able to get his pads down…

“Just practice and flexibility. He can bend. If he wasn’t athletic enough he wouldn’t do it. There are a lot of times that you recruit a guy like that and say ‘ he could end up at left tackle.’ But, he is athletic enough to stay on the d-line. Don’t let the offensive tackles hear me say that (laughter).”

On the secondary and how much of their credit goes to the defensive line and guys like Josh Allen

“Definitely. You have heard me say that for years and it is so true. That’s a great point. It all goes hand-in-hand. Because, there are times when guys that have been open and the d-line affects them -- certainly when it’s a two minute situation, predictable pass, things like that. When they (opponent quarterbacks) have all day and they’re comfortable back there they can pick you apart, so it all goes hand-in-hand and it’s been a good team defense.”

What is Josh Allen facing from the offense…

“He is double-teamed a lot. There are certain things we can do to try and free him up. Sometimes he may get some one-on-ones, but again, in a two-minute predictable pass – they can chip him, they can put in a tight end there, they could use a back, they could do a lot of things, slide the protection his way to give the tackle more help. They’re doing many different things to help (against) him.

On Allen’s ability to cover receivers as well…

“It does. It’s hard to drop him in predictable pass. First or second down, it’s part of our defense. It does open up zone blitzes and things like that, but most of the time we like to let him go (pass rush). We were a little undisciplined (vs. South Carolina). Our defensive line just as a whole, there are things we have to tidy up, but our defensive line as a whole in this game was one of the worst ones we played all year as a group. Our discipline in run gaps and trying to do too much and it’s not for the lack of effort. They really want to make plays. But, the defensive line has to be a very unselfish group and they’ve been playing very good. We’ve all been bragging on them and I think that gets to you sometimes. They want to start getting out there and making some plays and we get a little undisciplined and again, it’s not for poor intentions. Their hearts and their minds are in the right place, we just have to be more disciplined. We fundamentally didn’t play the game the way we always should in this game from our defensive line standpoint.”

On importance to find players in recruiting that perhaps other schools didn’t see…

“It’s very important. Also, that is a great point to your question earlier about Jimbo (Fisher) and I mentioned that years ago about Jimbo. I’ve quoted it before, but one of the things we always talked about was ‘yeah, one through 15 is pretty darn important, but what are you going to do 15 through 20, the last two or three guys that you add to your class.’ And, that’s a great example of it right there and that’s something that Jimbo always talked about back then as well, is finishing it and getting the right guys – fit some needs and maybe some flyers and things like that.”

On looking for size and who is flexible when recruiting, like Calvin Taylor, Jr…

“It is most important for the defensive line to be able to bend and (have) flexibility and have some twitch about him. He is definitely different in that. He is not exactly overly twitchy, but he makes up for it with his size and strength.”