Kentucky-Youngstown State Postgame Quotes
KENTUCKY FOOTBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. YOUNGSTOWN STATE
C.M. NEWTON GROUNDS at KROGER FIELD — LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY
SEPT. 17, 2022
Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops
MARK STOOPS: Okay. I felt like, you know, it was one of those games where we did some really good things in certain phases. And, obviously, some things that continue to creep up and get a little bit aggravating and things to work on.
Again, no panic button here. Things we truly believe we will get fixed. We’ve been through this before, even as recent as last year going through some ups and downs. And the continuity, working with guys. You know, down an offensive lineman with Tashawn. And, you know, we’ll continue to bring that unit along.
It is aggravating to give up negative yardage plays consistently. We’ve got to get that fixed and run the ball downhill. There’s a big difference between second and eight or second and seven or second six or second and twelve or thirteen.
Outstanding effort by our defense. Again, Coach White, that whole unit, defensively, played outstanding all game. Really, could just think of one play. That was a well-designed setup, the screen, and hit it for a good, explosive play. Credit to them, you know, for hitting a good play.
And then we responded with getting the interception to stop them from scoring. So, any time you shut anyone out, it’s obviously a really good effort and a big deal. And I credit our coaches and our players for playing a complete game.
Again, I think offensively that Will did some really good things. There’s a few plays here and there that he wishes he could have over. Maybe not his best. We’ve got to play better around him. And it starts with being physical, creating — you know, moving the line of scrimmage and running the ball downhill.
You saw it, again, at times today. Just too much inconsistency. And that’s the bottom line, I think offensively, just inconsistent. So we’ll continue to work on it and address it. And I’m confident we will continue to improve and get it ironed out.
What’s J.J. (Weaver)’s status?
MARK STOOPS: Injured. You think I’m going to tell you anything else? (Laughing.) I don’t — you know, I hope it’ll be — we’ll see what happens and I’ll give you a better update Monday. I really have no idea at this point. I don’t think it’s season-ending or anything like that.
Mark, can you take a moment and talk about what your emotions were like being out there with your mom and family?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, to be honest with you, you know, at that point and really kind of getting ready for the game, I really appreciate that and the administration doing that acknowledgment and having my mother there and my brother, Bob, and all my sisters, my brothers, you know, everybody. It was really nice. And my boys.
So it was fun. And I’m glad it’s all, you know, behind us now. And really concentrating to move on to the next games. But great, great weekend. Great day. So, you know, that was
Mark, what about Carrington when he made those two plays in the end zone, back-to-back drives to keep that shutout going?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think it’s kind of who he is. He’s a super competitive guy. Just really tough. He got beat on one and, you know, it was a — he and I were talking about it on the sidelines — it was a technique issue.
He tried to be really aggressive. He used his momentum against him, you know, and gave up that one shot. But a great one in response, comes right back. And he did that. He’s a very competitive young man.
MARK STOOPS: I don’t — you’re not going to hear me put any names on anything. But I’m really appreciative of the effort. And we’re going to continue to work and be competitive and all that. But, no, you’re not going to hear that from me.
Given all the experience you guys had in that front seven, how big has it been for the secondary to develop kind of the way those guys have and come along since the start of camp to now?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, you know, I’ve been commenting on them. You’ve been following me from the beginning of camp, that I felt we were a better unit this year. I felt like we added some depth. We got some length, some guys got older.
Carrington, a year older, Keidron. And, you know, Zion is doing some good things. Jordan’s really playing at a high level. And so, I think, you know, we’re getting better.
You talked about the inconsistency of the offense. But what did that do — what did you see in the two-minute drive before the half to put points on the board?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, that was good. I felt like the protection was good. Will was comfortable. He did move, I guess, a few times, if I remember, out of the pocket and created a few plays. But that was good. Good work for us.
I also think we moved the ball well at times, but then you get a turnover. You know, the turnovers. And, you know, I could live with interceptions, because we don’t want them to play tentative in thinking about that. We want him ripping it and confident and throwing.
But, you know, fumbling, there’s no — we can control that. We’ve got to get rid of putting the ball on the ground with fumbling. But it was good to get the two-minute drive, yeah.
How do you get those receivers more involved? What did you see from some of those guys?
MARK STOOPS: Well, I noticed Dekel, we got him in there, got him going. He’s a guy that we, you know, still feel can really help us soon, help us this year. He’s got that — he’s got that juice that I talk about, that speed. And so it was good to get him some reps.
And, of course, Dane and Barion continue to do good. Christian, you know, is a guy we feel like could definitely help us. And, of course, Tayvion, as well. So good to get him some touches again today.
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I felt like he did, you know, pretty good, just first look. Just because I don’t remember having to try to yell at him in between series. (Laughing.) So, it felt like he did good. You know, with J.J. being down, his role will probably increase a little bit.
Jacquez was flying, especially early. He was also really involved early. What does that say to have him in that front seven and have that push early on?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, you know, Jacquez, he’s a leader. He plays fast. He’s got a lot of experience. And he’s a guy that, again, we rally around. And, you know, it’s really good to see his energy and, you know, challenge the group, even at half, to continue to play with some urgency.
We did give up the one play and the penalty on top of it, which got them really in position. But I felt like the unit played really — still hard and aggressive, you know, really, the entire game.
And if you don’t, you know, you’re not going to get the shutout. Even when we gave up some yards or some plays or got it down there, they dug in.
(Question concerning special teams.)
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I thought they were solid today. Yeah, solid and, you know, our special teams, I mean, have been really good. I mean, y’all don’t bring it up unless we snap a ball high or something like that. You know what I mean? (Laughing.)
And that’s one person that’s hit thousands of good snaps. So like I told you last week, I wasn’t overly concerned about that. And even got our backup snapper today. And so, you know, the unit has been playing really good, you know, it’s a tight group.
How big was it to get that punt blocked, especially early?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I feel it was really good. The field position was really good just because we were moving it but couldn’t punch it. And so, it was good.
Mark, it seems like this defense is really good at anticipating. I know a lot of that is just game prep and preparation. But how much of it is just instinct and high football IQ?
MARK STOOPS: I think that’s a big piece of it, you know, with the coaches really tuning them in what to look for and the players having the wherewithal to take that coaching and the experience in the years that they’ve had. That’s why it’s so important.
And the nice thing is you get better as the year goes on. As I told you early on, they’re so used to playing the one offense, you know what I mean?
You’re playing your team all spring and all camp. Even if you try to do different things, it’s just not the same. And so, until you get in the games and start feeling different systems and all that, we’re getting better. And that awareness is improving.
You know, a week ago, I felt like we really did some really good things at times and took them out of their comfort zone in certain situations, and the same today.
How can you limit turnovers on offense?
MARK STOOPS: Well, again, I think the fumbles is just — you know, personally they – we’ve got to do a better job. And we coach that up, we work on it, we do drills. And we’ve got to keep on emphasizing that.
But, you know, I can’t tolerate that too much. Interceptions are going to happen sometimes. It’s just like the interception a week ago, I mean, is that really an interception? I mean, it was pressure, it got tipped, and it fell in somebody’s arm.
That stuff’s going to happen, I guess what I’m saying, here or there. You don’t want it to, but it’s going to happen. Deflections and things of that nature, a bad pass here or there.
And, you know, Will’s playing at a really high level and I want him to continue to play that way, play aggressive, and play confident and do good. The fumbles, we’ve got to take care of.
MARK STOOPS: We like guys that score touchdowns. (Laughing.) I mean, yeah, he’s really good. I mean, he’s a good player. He’s getting better. We’ve had a lot of confidence in him.
I told you that all the way back from last spring. He just handles himself very well, and he’s been consistent, so he’s got to stay that way. And we can’t have the young guys taking dips, you know, we want them to continue to progress. And I have confidence that he will.
Are you happy enough with the effort for a full-out celebration tonight?
MARK STOOPS: I don’t know about a full-out celebration, but I’ve got a lot of family and friends in here and we’ll enjoy the evening and spend some time with my family and have some fun.
And, you know, as you mentioned, your family, whenever the record came up, the milestone came up about Bear Bryant, did it exceed expectations?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I mean, it — really appreciative that my whole family got here and was here to share in that. And, you know, it’s been a fun weekend.
MARK STOOPS: I have no idea. Not in the near future. (Laughing.)
#6, Dane Key, WR
On how exciting it was to see some of the other wide receivers get their numbers called…
“I love seeing everybody in the room get involved. We’re just so close in the receiver room. It’s just great when somebody else gets to make the play.”
On his physical transformation since last season…
“You know, that’s a big thanks to our strength staff here. All those guys in the weight room, getting my body right to be able to go out there and perform and play to the best of my ability.”
On what goes through his mind looking back at his preparation…
“I really wanted to, you know, just play a role and play a role on the team and just come out and, you know, just make plays when my number is called. It’s just doing what I can do to help the team to win.”
#7, Will Levis, QB
On the offense …
“We know where we can get better and we’re showing flashes again. This just was not good enough, especially how the defense played. They’re getting the ball back for us repeatedly and we are just not finishing drives. Again, just the good things we did, we should have been doing a lot more. Mostly disappointed just because of the guys that got in there for that last drive. I mean, you don’t want to think or assume guys should be able to get it every game, but we need to work harder to make sure we get the ball when opportunities arise like that.”
On what he saw on interceptions …
“I think after the first few days. I went all camp last year without throwing a pick and I threw two today. But they’ve got some really good players. Coach White does an excellent job seeing things and putting a lot on the offense to think about a lot of different things that they could possibly throw at them. I thought they handled it really well. We have some great young guys and some great vets, a good balance.
On the change in the pocket …
“Yeah we’re definitely growing, but there is a lot more to clean up. I think we found a good group of guys that we’re able to trust and do good things for us. But still in targeting areas, miscommunications are things we know we can get better with. We just have to keep leaning on and trusting each other. The run game has to get better, we know that. It starts with them, but it’s everybody not just them. We have to make sure that if we want to be a good offense that we can make that more of our identity. We did a little bit better in the second half this week.”
#20, Keaton Wade, LB
On the offense struggling early and what the defense has to do…
“We were just saying on the sidelines we don’t need to worry about the offense we just need to worry about ourselves. They’re working out their kinks and things like that so we just have to focus on ourselves, on our ball.”
On does he play better when mad…
“Yeah, I just got to really flip a switch when on the field. I feel like that’s what I try to do because I am nice and polite off the field but when you are on the field you’ve got to focus on what you’ve got to focus on.”
On his nose for the ball…
“Yeah, I feel like I just try to make a play so I can put my name out there, so I was trying to follow the ball wherever I go on the field. I know when I’m making plays it boosts my confidence and just the overall team’s confidence.”
Youngstown State Head Coach Doug Phillips
On Kentucky being a tough team to beat …
“They’ve been working at it for 10 years, you know, they’ve recruited well, developed well. They play in the toughest conference in the country, so, part of it is in that development. I mean, Coach [Mark] Stoops has done a fabulous job. They’ve got a first-round draft pick quarterback, so I have all the respectful for what they’re doing here at Kentucky – it shows. We knew it would be a tough game coming in here, and I can say that I’m not one ounce of disappointed in the effort of our kids. Do we need to execute better? Yes. Disappointing, you know, we didn’t execute special teams early. They had us driven deep in the first quarter, and we couldn’t get ourselves out of that hole. Made a few mistakes – whether it’s penalties, whether it’s special teams, and we kept their defense on the field a little bit too long there in the first half.
On taking a potential lead over Kentucky in the first quarter…
“It makes me proud of my kids – they belong. Number 17 [Dylan Wudke] belongs on that field. He plays hard on that field and makes plays – whether it’s tackle for losses, whether its sacks, you know, proud of those kids’ efforts. It’s a collective effort. He’s doing his job. Somebody else is doing their job. We knew we wanted to take away the run. I don’t know if we necessarily took their run away and then they were going to throw the football. We knew that they could throw and that they could protect the quarterback. But, you know, the play of Ezekiel Blake chasing down that last break-away. [He] could have easily quit, right? [Or] let him score, [but] he made the tackle at the 5 yard-line, and we held them to a field goal on that play. So – when I turn the film on tomorrow, there’s going to be some great things I see. Are we there yet? Guys we’re not close. We are three games in. We have to sit down now – assess, debrief, see who we are as a football team, [ask] what can our players do, and get ready for league play. But – I’m excited for the players, and I’m excited to see where this team can go.”
On discouraging false starts on 3rd and shorts …
“It is. You know, you come into this stadium – very frustrating. We had to play clean football, if you ask our kids, what is clean football? No penalties, great operations, snaps, punt snaps, quarterback snaps – not putting the ball on the ground. The one thing I can say that jumped out to me today was probably seeing the takeaways that the defense. You know, we had a lot of takeaways coming into this game, and that was one trend I saw today. I don’t have my stat sheet in front of me, but the takeaways – I felt like our kids made plays, created fumbles, created interceptions in this football game, we just couldn’t capitalize. Games have momentum. We capitalized one time in the first half when we got the interception, we’re at mid-field, it’s 14 [to] nothing, our ball in the second half – but that’s football. It’s a game of inches, and it can quickly go the other way, too.”
On if today’s performance gives a confidence boost, despite the score …
“No, the moral – there’s no moral victories. We work too hard – our players, our coaches to win every football game, and when you don’t? You go in the film room, and guess what? You try to figure it out. You try to be problem solvers – you try to correct things so the next time. Our jobs as coaches, you know, I want to go out and see our kids succeed, and when they don’t succeed – that’s going to go on my shoulders. When we don’t score a touchdown there in the third quarter when we’re down there, that’s on me – not our players, that’s on me.”
Youngstown State Student-Athletes
#44 Martez Thrower, LB
On getting a hand on the punt …
“It felt really good knowing I could help out the team every chance I got on special teams and went hard and played.”
On what he saw on that play (the punt) …
“It really was supposed to be a safe punt, but he took too long to punt it, so I blocked it.”
On what Kentucky will look like when its best time comes after being 3-0 …
“We’re still picking apart every game one by one, so I’ll just say we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds. I can’t speak for that.”
#17, Dylan Wudke, DE
On if he felt the guys were able to match the physicality…
“Yeah, I think the start of the game we kind of came out and set up a physical stand. We almost held them to less than 100 yards. We did pretty good.”
On any first half frustrations and being unable to take the lead early…
“We just got to keep going. We can’t point fingers, we can’t look at offense and do that. We just got to keep grinding.”
On what it says about the group to not give in at that point…
“Yeah, I mean even if stuff is going badly, we just got to keep going man. Never know what’s going to happen, just got to make sure of that.”