Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Quotes
University of Kentucky Football Media Conference
Saturday, November 26, 2022
Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Coach Mark Stoops
Kentucky 26, Louisville 13
MARK STOOPS: Just really appreciate our football team and their effort and their competitive spirit, competitive nature they’ve had, you know, these past couple weeks.
We all know, again, not going back wanting to be a downer, we had some ups and downs, but most people do. Just about everybody in the country with the exception of maybe one or two teams.
So, you’re going to have some adversity, and our team responded how I believed they would. This game is important. I’ve recognized that from the moment I walked in the door when we had a long way together and they were consistent top 10 team or Top 5 at the time or whatever it was when Charlie (Strong) had them rolling.
So, I know it’s important to this state, important to or football players and our staff, and I just really appreciate the way they dug in and competed and finished the season.
It’s challenging, and our team responded the way I had hoped. Felt like we did some really good things in the first half. Penalties were one thing that kind of crept up on us a little bit. Made a few penalties that stalled some things.
Overall, played really solid defense. I think giving up the touchdown at the end of the first half was a big response to go into halftime and come out in the second half and hold them to a three and out and get good field position kind of set the tone for the third quarter and put us in pretty good position to feel like you had pretty good control.
I know nothing was completely out of hand or anything, but we felt like we were in pretty good control at that moment and defensively had some big stops. Offensively was very effective moving the ball. Was good to see us have that physicality in the run game, late in the game, getting the long drive, even though didn’t end up with any points.
From a backed up position, physical, returning the ball, killing some clock and punting it and knocking them out at the one. The field goal, how about that? It was great to see Ruff (Matt Ruffolo) finish that way, and the holders and the snappers, the whole crew. Special teams really responded.
So, it was a total team effort and good to get that victory.
Mark, do you feel like you finished this game as well as you finished the first game of the season?
MARK STOOPS: You know, my mind is a million places. I can’t really even think about the first game of the season to be honest with you right now. I’ll think about it later.
Both DeAndre (Square) and Jacquez (Jones) made big plays early. What does it say about those guys that they even came back today? Nobody would’ve faulted them.
MARK STOOPS: That’s who they are. That’s who they are. You’re right, couldn’t fault them. The other guys were playing well. But it means something to them, it means something to our team, so them being out there and coaching the guys when they weren’t able to play, you know, coming back and fighting through it today, means a lot.
It’s just who they are. It’s the character, and that needs to carry on with the younger guys in our program.
A lot of people wouldn’t have blamed you if you just scrapped the kicking game the last few weeks? Matt came out there and performed well. Were you ever worried that he might just be done for the year kind of deal?
MARK STOOPS: No, but I think I acknowledged that things happen. I mean, I made the golfing analogy, what, a week ago. I understand. Things happen. I mean, to act like you’re not immune to anything or any pressure or when things go wrong, that’s human nature. I had confidence in him, the team did, and I treated him like we always did.
He missed a kick or two. It’s a snap, it’s a hold, it’s laces. There is a lot of things that go into it. As I mentioned many times throughout the year, was I concerned? Yeah, I was concerned, and we worked on it.
But we had to stay the course and go with the best option we had, and he kicked it really solid tonight. Really good snaps, really good holds, and really good kicks from where I was. You guys could probably see on the TV, but they looked pretty darn good, pretty high.
(Regarding Louisville causing turnovers.) You didn’t turn the ball over. How big was that?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think it was very big, really big. You know, I think it says a lot to our guys and the way we finished there. We had good balance certainly early, and so turnovers were big.
On how it feels to win.
MARK STOOPS: Better than losing.
(About Will Levis) There has been a lot of talk, this is his last game in a Kentucky uniform. What has he meant to this program, especially his toughness that he showed this year fighting through injuries and just all those things?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I don’t know whether it is or not. We’ll have some talks and see where he is at. You know, hard to put in the words what he’s meant to us, just his, again, toughness, leadership, you know, battling through adversity, having — coming here and having a great year and going through an offensive coordinator change and getting beat up and having a year where he wasn’t at a 100%.
He fought through it. He’s a true professional. He set the tone for us here. We absolutely love him, whether it’s his last game or plays one more. I think the world of him, and love what he’s done for us and don’t want anything but the best for him and his future.
You guys have been able to generate a lot of pressure this year, but haven’t quite gotten to the quarterback. How big was that?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I thought it was very big, the strip sack, the pressure, making it uneasy on them early. I think got a sack the second play; I thought that was big, just kind of setting the tone there.
I thought just again, they were very solid attacking. Not perfect. We had some plays in there that we would always like to have over defensively, but overall played extremely hard once again.
Mark, how do you prepare for the postseason?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, right now our guys need a little time. They put this week in here — this week normally would be on the road recruiting tomorrow and then put this few days of a dead period in there to kind of — the idea being to regroup with your team and see where it is with the portal and everything, with the change and the transition and your own team.
So, we got to have some meetings with our players. The players need some time to heal up. Again, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. That’s the last thing I’m worried about right now is who we’re playing. I’m grateful for this victory.
I feel like our team emptied the tank once again, and that’s all you can ask. Right now they need a little bit time of fill that back up.
Chris (Rodriguez)’s days are numbered in the backfield. What did you see from Jutahn (McClain)?
MARK STOOPS: He has three or four more, doesn’t he, I hope, Chris? He is unbelievable. He played really good, Chris.
Jutahn really played a good game, too. He really did. He had really good vision. Tough runs. Little different change of pace with him in there, but really played well.
You guys have obviously some high impact transfers on top of the homegrown guys. How should the fans remember this senior class, and how much have they meant to you?
MARK STOOPS: That’s up to them and up to you how you write it. I know in there that there is a lot of love and respect for each other. You know, I told the team that last night and several times this week, there is guys that have been in that locker room one year, two years, three years, four years, five, and even six. It’s very strange.
There are guys that have been around forever and there are newcomers, but that’s a team. You know, it’s the way of the new world. There will be change, more change than we’re used to with the rosters and things of that nature.
You have with to adapt and make sure we piece it together the best we can. But just the way they played today you could tell the way they care about each other and wanted to finish strong. I greatly appreciate that, and I know they will as well. Whether they’re planning on hitting the portal or graduating or whatever they’re deciding to do, I know they’ll be proud of the effort that they put in this week to prepare for that game and to go out and win.
DeAndre joined the 300-tackle club. Talk about him from the time he got here to now.
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, he’s just one of those guys. He loves football, loves the game, easy to coach because he cares. You know, so he’s come a long way. He’s meant an awful a lot to this program and myself and our staff. Just been a mainstay.
How much of today do you think was built off finishing last week and the competitive nature and…
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think it’s — again, yeah, I think it means something, you know, to go — the product that we put on the field and how we play, it matters. The preparation matters. Matters to our fan base and to our own team, you know, how we play and what we put into it throughout the week, how competitive we are, how tough we play.
You know, if you’re in the arena and you’re playing you’re going to have some ups and downs, and you got to be able to respond. I felt like that’s what I’m proud of this team. Maybe things didn’t go exactly how we all wanted it to, and certainly there is a lot of things that I could do better and will do better and will work at.
But they hung really tough and finished with a win that we all know we needed to have, we desperately wanted.
What were the emotions like having Chris (Oats) here today?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I mean, it means a lot. He was in that locker room, and, you know, the players all loved seeing him and admire the way he’s handled things and how resilient and tough Chris has been. Because you can imagine — well, it’s hard to imagine what he’s gone through and the good days and the bad days, us visiting with his mother and his family and just the struggle that they’re going through.
They greatly appreciate the support of the Big Blue Nation and all the friends and family of this program. It means a lot to us and they felt that love and support for a long time. Our players really love seeing them and know that’s true adversity.
You know, sometimes a long season, you know, you have a tendency to feel down or disgruntled or — that’s real adversity. He’s facing it head on. I’m sure there is ups and downs. I know there is. But we all can learn a little bit from that.
I was going to ask, were you happy with how the offensive line played?
MARK STOOPS: I thought they — yeah, in general, played really well. Effective yards. Wasn’t like there was — you know, I’m looking at it right here. 42 yards, maybe not overwhelm you or wow you with yards per carry, but if you’re rushing it that many times it means you’re getting some effective yards, and you’re keeping those chains moving and playing for field position and things of that nature. Playing to win the game however you have to, so that was good to see.
What you all did late against Georgia with the 99-yard drive, how does that change your evaluation of the offense over the whole season, or does it at all?
MARK STOOPS: I think we got better. We had to. We all work at that every day, you know. So I want to enjoy this and let everybody enjoy this win. You know, I know there is work to be done and we all know that, so I appreciate the effort and the plan to put ourselves in a position to be successful.
A lot of times that’s what’s — I’ll just leave it there. That’s frustrating as a coach. You heard me talk about through the ups and downs it’s our job to put them in at position to be successful.
We’ve done that at times and at times we haven’t. You put it all together and you get a group of men that play that hard and put them in position like that, you like to see that result right there.
On Zion Childress
MARK STOOPS: You know, he’s just a guy that has a good instincts. He plays a lot. He played a lot of snaps before he got here and played a lot this year. He’s a guy that I agree with you, you see him, you see the flashes. You see him trigger and you saw a great open field tackle a week ago. You saw him flashing together. That is really good to see in a guy that has another year.
Mark, what are your emotions like now that the regular season is over? You kind of alluded to it. It’s not exactly what you guys had hoped for you, but you get a big win over your rival. Exhausted? Happy?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, of course I’m happy. I’m proud of that group. I’m proud of the men and the way they hung in there and finished. You know, I think there will be time for reflection and looking at everything. There is always what ifs. It’s not like I’m going to live in the what if world all the time, but you have to really look at things and make sure we’re growing and moving the program to where we all want it to be.
You know, there is part of you that could sit there and look at two penalties away, but that’s my job to make sure we don’t have those two penalties or play better to where a penalty doesn’t change the outcome of a game.
That what if sticks in fan’s minds and my mind as well. You know, very easily could control winning a few more, and that hurts, because we all know how competitive this league is. Take a look at it. I don’t know, it’s been wild. But you look at the SEC and the way everybody finishes. There is a lot of people logjammed in the middle. But there are some elite teams that have played extremely well this year and a lot of guys fighting hard and competing.
So it’s hard. Long winded on that conversation. Right now, I guess it’s called relief to get that victory right there. It’s going to be short-lived. I got to get in to work tomorrow and really take a good look at things and see where we are at and go from there.
Mark, you talked about all — we asked you Monday did you expect the juice to be there after a few losses coming into this rivalry. Was it there all week? Did you see more today going into the game? How was that this week?
MARK STOOPS: I was really proud of the team. I don’t know if it’s the formula. I don’t know what it is, but they seem to respond, you know what I mean? It’s kind of nice the way our schedule is set up. Talk to (Dr. Eli) Capilouto. He’s out there.
They have school off Wednesday, obviously Thursday is Thanksgiving. With Wednesday off gives them a little time Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I don’t know. They got a little rest. We had beautiful weather. They were very energetic. They were committed. They were committed to preparing and having a really solid week to go play well.
You know, I mean, that’s what we have done for a long time. I would be very frustrated if they didn’t respond that way.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
KENTUCKY FOOTBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. LOUISVILLE
KROGER FIELD – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOVEMBER 26, 2022
#13, J.J. Weaver, LB
On if the pressure was by design…
“We were just trying to get our pash rush back up. It was just effort, we have been doing that all year, getting to the quarterback is our job.”
On what they did to stop Louisville…
“We had great plays. Coach White’s gameplan was amazing so we just followed him and listened to him and executed the plays.”
On if they built off last week today…
“Yeah, most definitely. Plus, we have Jacquez (Jones) and Deandre Square back too. That really helped our defense by having that leadership helped us bring in this game.”
#7, Will Levis, QB
On feeling of winning last season game…
“It was a great way to have the last home game here. We talked all week about how much this game means to us, to all our fans, the whole state really. Obviously the season didn’t go how we planned it but we knew that we’d feel a heck of a lot better about it if we win. We needed it, we got ready for it and we got it.”
On time playing at Kentucky…
“First of all I’ve got to think about all of my brothers, I’ve got brothers for life and friends for life and just a lot of people that I’ll forever be in touch with and forever trust and love a lot. Other than that, the fans thank you for welcoming me with open arms and completely embracing me being the starting quarter back of the team. It’s a huge position to assume, being the quarter back for an SEC team, and I didn’t know too much about the fan base when I first got here but I quickly realized how special and supportive our fans are. I think I’ll always kind of look back on this last season and have a little bit of kind of regret or just feeling like we didn’t quite get to where we wanted to but I’ll sure as heck think about this game to feel a lot better about it!”
On risking playing games injured while being a top prospective quarterback …
“I’m a competitor. I’ll always play if I can, I’ll listen to the trainers and they know, they’re the professionals, they know what’s in my best interest whether it’s to play or not and I’ve just listened to them all season.”
#24, Christopher Rodriguez, RB
On experience of the last rivalry game…
“Through the rivalry, you know they got a great team, they’re top 25 in the country, but every year coach always tells us we’re the better team. Going into the game we knew they were going to be chippy, coach was just challenging us not to retaliate and when you see your teammate hold them accountable and pull them away. I had to pull Barion away one time and he’s young, he said “I understand” and then the next play he scored a touchdown.
On experience jumping over someone and discussing it with Will Levis….
“I actually told him I don’t know how you do it and I’ll never do it again, it’s scary, I’m 225 and I’m leaving my feet. I came down hard on my shoulder and I was like “I’m not doing this again.”.”
On energy leading up to Louisville game…
“Not even just during practice, if you look around every TV is playing the games throughout the years. When we figured out that they’re ranked 25, okay now we know they’re going to give us they’re best game and we’ve just got to go play hard. I’m not going to lie, there’s been a lot of motivational speeches but this week we just had to get back to us coming off a loss last week. It’s just hard but we knew what we had to do and we came out and did it and got the W.
#96, Matt Ruffalo, K
On how it feels to do what he did against Louisville…
“It feels good because to be completely honest it has not been the best year but to end on that note going 4/4 and perfect on extra points it feels really good, and it always feels really good against them.”
On if it feels good to be MVP as a kicker…
“Oh yeah, they told me I was the first kicker to win that award. It just means a lot as the field goal unit with my long snapper Cade DeGraw and my holder Chance Poore and all the line to end on that performance… they gave it to me, but it is really for all of us.”
On what the year was like emotionally…
“Emotionally, I mean, we started off really strong but in the middle of the season, to be completely honest, it was not my best year and as a unit, it was not our best year, but we stuck together, and we stuck together until the end. Today it really showed our mental toughness by sticking together.”
#15 Jordan Wright, LB
On what the victory means to the program …
“It means a lot. Being this is my last game and all us seniors going out with a win and making sure that trophy stays here in Lexington, Kentucky, means a lot to us and the community.”
On still having his jersey on for interviews …
“I think I am going to go to sleep in this tonight.”
On the ups and downs on the season and going out with a win to get rid of the bad taste of a few losses …
“Yes, it does because winning your last regular-season game is always good because you don’t want to be training for the next month with an L on your back. That’s not fun. Having the opportunity to come out on top means a lot to the team.”
On getting pressure on the UofL quarterbacks …
“Just giving it our all and making sure we contain that quarterback because we know that when their quarterback gets going, their team gets going. So trying to just maintain him as much as we could.”
#2 Barion Brown, WR
On being the rivalry for the first time and playing well to get the win …
“It means a lot. I know when I got here what I signed up for and I am always going to be ready for battle with my brothers. I feel like I have been here as long as the rivalry has.”
On his future …
“I don’t know who started that rumor, but I am BBN for life. So y’all can stop the rumors.”
On getting in the endzone and scoring …
“It felt good, and it always feels good getting in the endzone. All week we have been practicing the fade and just trying to get more consistent and it paid off.”
KENTUCKY FOOTBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. LOUISVILLE
KROGER FIELD – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOVEMBER 26, 2022
Louisville Head Coach Scott Satterfield
Opening Statement …
“I think, first of all, just, you know the difference in the game. I think tonight it was the turnovers. We had three, we did not create any. And you know, going back and looking at this season, all 12 games, when obviously we’ve done that but we have not played well and we’ve lost those games. But not when we’ve created turnovers and have taken care of the football. We’ve missed a good former for wins for us in the way our makeup of our team. You know, I thought Kentucky did a good job with that creating those turnovers, particularly two of them backed up, you know in their territory and put our defense in a bind. And you know, I was proud of our defenders, I thought our defense played well. We gave up the 70-yard in the first half, but other than that we really didn’t. We held them pretty good in the first half. You know, second half they hit a few more plays on and handed the ball to (Chris) Rodrigues and started grinding out once they got the lead. You know, and I think you know, but I was proud of the way (Jawhar) Jordan played. I thought he played an excellent game you know, pound for pound and one of the toughest players in college football. You know, to go out here and get you know, 245 yards rushing. You know, it takes a really good defense. I was really proud of him and Tyler Hudson – they’ve been doing it all year. Another really good game for him, contested catches that we’re able to make and you know, getting in the endzone. We just didn’t have enough firepower on offense, bottom line tonight. You know, we’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries on that side of the ball with all Caleb Chandler gets knocked out of this game. As well, Malik (Cunningham) comes in, and not fully healthy, but we felt we needed a spark when we put them in at the time. You know, really wasn’t getting a whole lot going with Brock (Domann) at that point in time. So let’s put Malik in there. We end up generating a touchdown right beforehand. That’s great momentum for us heading into halftime. Second half came out and just really didn’t get anything going, we get sacked on the first play. And really, just really, third quarter did nothing. Again, putting our defense in a bind. Our defense had to play a lot of ball in that second half. But you know, overall, I think it just comes down to not doing enough offensively and turning the ball over three times like we did is the difference in this game.”
On if Malik Cunningham will play in the bowl game …
“Not yet. No, we haven’t really talked with anybody. You know, we all focused everything on Kentucky this week and everything we could do to try to come back and play well and so now, you know, we’ll digest this over the next few days and you know, meet with everybody one on one and figure out what we need to go.”
On struggling to be productive in the third quarter and rest of game …
“You know, I think Kentucky does a really good job of keeping everything in front of them and you know when needed to be a little bit more patient. Still thought we could run the ball ran the ball pretty good but in the throw game just didn’t really generate much and you know, we’re throwing into coverage, and that ended up biting us a few times. You know, but they got some good length on the perimeter, both outside linebackers six, five, they’re kind of dropping them off in those zones. And it makes it very difficult to find windows”
#5, Josh Minkins, DB
On if it’s frustrating when offense can’t execute but defense can …
“No, you don’t really get frustrated. I mean, you just have to keep them going. Keep them up. You know it’s a team game at the end of the day, so they make plays, and Kentucky made plays too, but I feel like we didn’t make enough plays.”
On not be able to convert turnovers …
“I mean, they just kept running the ball, just killing the clock out. You know, they really didn’t throw the ball as much as we expected them to, but they just kept running the ball. So when the team is running the ball like James Madison did, you know it’s kind of hard to get turnovers unless you just get a fumble, but they were conservative with the ball.”