Nov. 30, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops

COACH STOOPS: All right. Tough way to lock up the season. You know, frustrating loss, but give credit to Tennessee. They played better than us, made plays when they needed to, coached better than us. And so kind of just seems like that’s the way most of the year went for us. Had our opportunities and didn’t make them.

We can all do things better, starting with me, and we intend on doing that. I really appreciate the seniors and the foundation that they laid for this program.

It’s always difficult, probably most difficult for the seniors that come in with a coaching change: A bunch of new coaches, new schemes, new everything, and I thought those guys really handled themselves well. You know, really continued to fight and tried to lead us through the end of the year, so I appreciate those guys.

I think, you know, we see it within our program maybe more; it’s tough at times. It’s frustrating. We know that we are laying a foundation in our program and everybody in that locker room knows that we are going to get back to work here real soon, like Monday, and be ready to go and push forward for the future.

We are all disappointed with the 2013 season when it comes to the wins and losses, and I take responsibility for that. And I need to do a better job, and all of us will, and we’ll continue to keep on grinding and keep on pushing this program.

But I know that we did lay that foundation and guys are ready to get back to work and ready to continue to build. We need to continue to recruit some players that could come in and make a difference in this league and we’re going to do that.

Q. (Question regarding UT scoring on the second play of the game.)

COACH STOOPS: It was — yeah, it was frustrating. You know, we need to do a better job all the way around.

Q. (Question regarding Dyshawn Mobley’s play last night and having a strong repeat effort tonight.)

COACH STOOPS: I don’t think that tonight. I’ll look at the film and see, but I felt like guys were very into it. Guys really did — and I don’t just say that stuff. I thought we had a good week of preparation. I thought guys were motivated and excited to play and really wanted to go out with a good win.

You know, didn’t get off to a good start, and that doesn’t help. You know, tried to claw our way back in it here and there, but overall, just an uphill battle all day.

Q. Is it a difference between motivated to play and going out and making plays?

COACH STOOPS: Well, I think it’s all year — it’s just, it’s execution. We know we are not overly explosive, and so we need to grind out drives and not get behind the chains and same thing on defense. We gave up some big plays tonight, and that wasn’t good.

Again, I think we have our shots. I think you see there’s shots out there. There’s plays out there, and we’re not making them. We’re just underthrowing, just overthrowing; maybe a drop or a pressure, you know what I mean, and we have a reverse-pass set up and we fall. You know, just got to do a better job.

Q. The quarterback play throughout the year, you went most of the season without knowing who your quarterback is, due to injury or — how much of an issue was that?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it’s an issue. It’s not a perfect situation. You know, you saw the year. I think each guy did some good things at times and some things that weren’t so good, and again, that’s our whole team, though. That’s not just on those guys. We have to play better around them.

So we can’t just put that all on the quarterbacks. But I don’t think it’s a perfect situation and I don’t think anybody really went out and just said, this is mine, which you’re waiting to see.

Q. You’re pretty frank in your expectations. Where do you think you are in your progression right now?

COACH STOOPS: I know we’re progressing. It’s hard for me to define that exactly.

I know we’re improving. There’s no doubt in my mind. You know, we’re getting better and we need to continue to build this team and, you know, I always accept responsibility. I know I can do better, and the coaches can do better. The players will continue to develop and we’re going to continue to recruit players that can come in and make a difference in this league.

Q. (Question regarding Dyshawn Mobley’s play.)

COACH STOOPS: Dyshawn, I was impressed with him. I really thought — I love the way he’s playing. He’s going all out and it’s good to see. He’s got great passion for the game. You could see that when he’s going down there and busting his hump on special teams and doing all those good things, so I’ve been pleased with Dyshawn.

Q. Seems like he’s very openly auditioning — about playing for a spot.

COACH STOOPS: Absolutely. And we need to, and we need to — we’ve got to continue to build in all areas of this program and we need guys to step up and take charge. We need toughness and we need leadership and we need to continue to have guys emerge in that area.

Q. Your penalty — was it frustration?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I shouldn’t have done it. Just got the best of me and that’s my fault. Shouldn’t have done it. I get along good with that official, too. (Laughter). It wasn’t directed at him, that’s for sure. It was on the other side.

But no, he’s a good guy, and you know, they do a good job. It’s hard. It’s hard. It is what it is. You’re going to get some calls; you’re not going to get some calls and you have to be able to overcome that. I know that.

Q. Is it just the frustration of the night and the year?

COACH STOOPS: Hey, I don’t want to do that. You know, that’s not what I want to do. I think you guys can see me. I try hard to not do that, you know and to keep it together, and we’ve got to be able to overcome things.

Sure, it’s frustrating. Every coach in America goes through those things, and sometimes things are going to go your way and sometimes they are not. You’ve got to deal with it and move on.

Q. Did you learn anything about yourself this year?

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, well — (Laughter) — I don’t know. I mean, that’s hard to answer. I mean, I think you always grow. You always want to try to grow as a coach and as a person, and you know, I think I’m doing that and I know I am in certain areas and I need to continue to just push.

We know this isn’t going to be an easy task and again, we’re going to go to work starting tomorrow. We’re hitting the road. We’re going to grind it out in recruiting and our players are going to start lifting and running and we are going to build this program.

Q. Back to the penalty. Do you think the fans like to see that? Do you think they like to see that, hey, this is our coach, fighting for us? What kind of reaction do you think they have with something like that?

COACH STOOPS: You know, I think people that know me know I’m going to fight and all that, and my players do. But you also know and I also know, that sooner or later, they just call you an idiot (laughter) you know what I mean. Comes down to winning games.

Again, I try not to ever get totally — I mean, I don’t want that label on me. I’m not going to get out of control on the sideline or whatever. Sometimes you get called and sometimes you don’t. You’ve got to deal with it and move on. Again, I said that’s my fault. But that’s not me. That doesn’t define me and how I act.

Q. (Question regarding the team’s areas of improving moving forward.)

COACH STOOPS: All of our guys need to just continue to develop physically. We have got to get bigger and stronger — who are the guys you mentioned?

Q. (Question regarding Jojo Kemp and how he needs to improve.)

COACH STOOPS: Yeah, they are all good players. Jojo has to go in and get — his ankles have been bothering him. He has some things he has to clean up. He’s not 100 percent healthy and he’ll go in and get some things cleaned up. But that is starting to come on. He needs to physically get bigger and continue to develop.

Q. As his career comes to a close, how special of a player is Avery Williams?

COACH STOOPS: He’s one of the best I’ve been around. I love him. He’s just a great person and very good football player. He cares. He’s a good leader. He’s going to be very successful in life.

Q. Where are you with the quarterback situation going into this game and where are you now?

COACH STOOPS: To be honest with you, Max (Smith) wasn’t feeling good either. He didn’t throw a ball on Tuesday and he was very limited on Wednesday.

Jalen (Whitlow) was — his neck was not good. So Jalen was very unsure and he was trying to do what he could to get healthy. We got all kinds of checks on him and sent him to a specialist and MRIs and the whole deal to make sure that there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be permanently injured or anything like that.

So he did what he could to get in there and help us get out of the game. But he was not feeling good and he definitely couldn’t, I don’t think, take a whole game of getting hit and things like that. I mean, he was cleared, but just his mental framework in not being able to practice all week and all those things.

And Max, again, he really gave it everything he had. His arm was bothering him. He took a shot last week and his arm was bothering him a little bit this week. You know, again, those guys tried to do what they could.

Q. Where are you in the future —

COACH STOOPS: Oh, I don’t think I need to address that right now. It’s been a whole year. Let’s let that go and let’s get bigger, stronger, recruit and — we need to get better on all positions.

Q. Can Max ever be healthy enough to be an effective quarterback? His body is so beat up.

COACH STOOPS: To answer your question, yes, I believe he could be healthy enough. I hope he can and I think he needs to go in and we need to look at that shoulder again. This was different. Jim Madaleno and our doctors tell me this injury right now is a little different now than other problems he’s had. So we need to go in and look at it.

Q. We knew this was going to be a difficult year; is there any sense of relief that you have the rookie year in the rearview mirror?

COACH STOOPS: No, I don’t feel relief. I’m disappointed. Again, you know, right after this last game here, we really put a lot into this game. I thought, again, we were excited to play and really wanted to go out and play better than that. I’m disappointed right now.

But I know there’s a lot of work to be done and again, starting tomorrow, we’re hitting the road, and, you know, we’ve got recruits on campus and meeting with our players that are here and go get in some homes and get busy recruiting.

Q. The decision to pull out Raymond (Sanders) during senior night, what went into that?

COACH STOOPS: He made a mistake. You know, he didn’t make a mistake to dismiss him from the team. He just couldn’t play in this game. I don’t see why — I didn’t want that to define Raymond for the rest of his time for all that he did. That wasn’t, in my opinion, the right thing to do.

Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#11 Maxwell Smith, So., QB

On how he thought he played tonight …

“I thought I did all right. I made a couple of bad mistakes and a couple of bad throws, but I thought I did okay.”

On how he would sum up the season …

“I really would just say disappointing. We all felt good going in. We knew we had a tough schedule like I said, so it was disappointing. When you go 2-10 it’s obviously disappointing.”

On the play of Dyshawn Mobley

“We all know he can run the ball really hard. He’s got talent, but he has other stuff that he needs to work on and things that he needs to show the coaching staff. He played great. He ran his butt off. He ran really tough, and that’s who he is. He goes out everyday on special teams and just balls. He is a baller and tonight he showed that he can play.”

#97, Mister Cobble, DT

On how emotional the night was …

“It was an emotional night. It’s been five years with ups and downs and making relationships, especially with Donte (Rumph). After the game, I stopped him and said, ‘keep your head up, stand on the field, and enjoy it one last time.’ We got in the locker room and I just couldn’t take my shoulder pads off. I had to keep the jersey on. Before we broke it down, I had to talk to the team and let them know how much I care about them. I hugged everyone. Like I said, it’s an emotional day. The best way to end it is hanging with my brothers and that’s why I’m here. I love the Big Blue Nation. I love my teammates. I love my brothers.”

#33, Dyshawn Mobley, RB

On how it felt to put up big numbers tonight …

“I felt great. I told my team at halftime I was going to lay it all on the line. I told them I was going to go out there and have fun.”

On how he felt once he stepped on the field …

“Once I got out there and started playing, it definitely slowed down. “

On what he needs to work on before next season …

“Go in there in the off season and get better. We know what we need to work on. We have just got to get in there and work hard.”

On how hard it was to wait his turn and what allowed him to play tonight …

“For any kid it would be hard to wait your turn. I just sat back and waited for my turn. I knew I would get my chance and when I did I was going to give it my all. A couple people (were) down and the coaches had enough trust to put me in.”

On summing up this season …

“Definitely give it up to the seniors. The seniors laid down the foundation for our upcoming season. They help push the tradition of UK Football forward.”

#99, Donte Rumph, DT

On it being his last game…

“It’s an emotional game. I think it got harder when the game was over. That’s when it really hit. There’s no more playing for the Big Blue Nation. PC (Mister Cobble) and I, we kind of just stayed on the field for a moment, collected our thoughts and hugged it out. We told each other how much we appreciated each other, how much we’re going to miss each other and how much we love each other. I mean, he’s my brother and I love this guy. I’m going to miss him and it’s just hard to accept the fact that after four years and being so close with somebody, the recognition of not being around this person as much in the future, it hurts. It’s emotional but I know he’s always going to be there like I’m always going to be there for him.”

On the future of the program…

“Very confident. We have a great group of young guys. They’ve been making big influences during the game and as the season went on. We had a lot of younger guys step up and make big plays in hard times so you can see the potential there. Going into the offseason knowing that and knowing they have time to build during the offseason, it’s going to be a special year for UK next year. ”

#2, Bud Dupree, DE

On the season …

“I think we improved a lot over the games that we did play. There were a lot of chances for us to win and for us to pull through with a win. There were a lot more things we could’ve done to execute on both sides of the ball. If we just focused on that, there were a lot of things we could’ve done better.”

On Avery Williamson…

“Avery has helped me go hard everyday by leading by example and always trying to do things right.”

On Coach Stoops…

“That means coach really cares about the team and wants the best for the team. If he has to do that to get a point across and the referee on the right track, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

#40, Avery Williamson, LB

On this season …

“It’s tough but I love these guys and I feel like we fought until the end. We didn’t play perfect, but it happens. We continued to fight throughout the game.”

On the defensive line …

“I feel like we definitely gelled together over the years and played off of each other, going through different systems, and we were still able to make plays. I feel like those guys really made a lot more plays this year and helped me make a lot more plays. I give credit to them and we have a great D-line this year.”

On what he left for the team …

“I feel like I left my leadership and the way I played, guys are going to see that on the film and I feel like I instilled the leadership quality in a lot of guys this year.  They really look up to me and I’m glad and hoping that it carries over. I know it’s going to carry over and these coaches are going to make it carry over. I really feel like I laid the ground foundation for this program and it’s going to get better. There’s no choice but for it to get better.”

Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones

Opening statement…

“First of all, I’m very proud of our senior class. The resiliency, the perseverance to send them out with a victory, we always talk about, you’ll always remember your last game – everything that these young men have been through and to be able to send them out with a victory, and a victory on the road. We talked about needing to be 1-0 and 1-0 for our football program moving forward with our offseason strength and conditioning program, with recruiting, just momentum going into spring football. I thought our kids really showed up and played winning football. I thought defensively, obviously, the goal line stand and the resiliency they showed tonight. Then we had some big plays offensively. Rajion (Neal) got us started and Jason Croom, who made some big plays for us. We’ve been really deeply injured at the receiver position. He did break his collarbone, so that did happen with Jason. He’ll undergo further examination when we get back to Knoxville.”

On seeking out the seniors after the game on the field…

“They mean so much to our football program and they’ve been through a lot. We’ve chronicled it every week and to be able to get a victory on the road was very fulfilling to see that happen for these kids. Like I said, they’ve been through so much. Someone told me 42 coaches including strength coaches in five years. That’s a lot, that’s a lot of transition. They’ve been remarkable in terms of buying in and doing everything we’ve asked of them. To get this victory was very special to them.”

On Devrin Young…

“I thought Devrin Young played his best football game and he flipped field position in the return game and then the big third down catch over the middle. That’s worth seven points on flipping field position. Then the over route on the touchdown was a great catch, it took extreme concentration to make that catch between a couple defenders. It was great to see and that should build a lot of confidence with him as we continue to move forward.”

On the next step for the program…

“The message for them tonight is, when you make big plays, you take care of the ball on offense and you have a mindset to win on the road; you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. We’ll enjoy this one, but Monday we’re back in the weight room getting ready for next season. I want to continue to stay positive and move forward, but it’s expected that we go to bowl games from here on out. That’s our goal. We’re going to have some time off and take advantage of the time we have moving forward and we’ll be back and right into our offseason strength and conditioning program on Monday.”

Tennessee Student-Athletes

#97, Daniel Hood, DL

On how he looks back on his career at Tennessee…
“I have to smile. I feel like we accomplished all of our goals except for the bowl game. I feel really proud to leave the program as it is in Coach Jones hands.”

On being able to put pressure on Kentucky…
“Corey Miller had a great week of practice. He came in and made some great plays against their offensive line. I was impressed and tried to help him in any way I could.”

On what memories he takes from his time at Tennessee…
“The South Carolina victory as well as this victory. I enjoyed spending time with all my teammates and seeing those that went to the NFL. I will always remember the Vol Walk and running through the ‘T’. Those memories will never leave.”

#11, Joshua Dobbs, QB

On sending the seniors out with a win…
“It was huge. It was our sole focus. They have been through a lot here at the University of Tennessee, so we made it our sole focus to send them out on top.”

On playing through an injury…
“I got a little beat up, but it just goes along with the game and position. I just wanted to be mentally tough and fight through the injury.”

On being able to score a touchdown on the second play…
“It was huge. We were able to dominate the line of scrimmage all night. It was a great way to start the game with a big momentum run. That is exactly what we needed and were able to get it.”

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