Kentucky-Akron Postgame Quotes
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 16, 2023 Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Coach Mark Stoops Press Conference
Kentucky 35, Akron 3
MARK STOOPS: Good to get the 3-0. Really appreciate the way the defense played the entire night, really with some late yardage there. We had an opportunity to play a lot of guys, which was good to see.
Gave up yards at the end. But prior to that really played one of the more complete games we have played all year in a long time defensively, appreciate that effort.
The special teams are doing what they have to do, playing really hard. Offensively a lot of frustration again. It is a broken record, but you cannot have snaps, holds, you can’t fumble going in. And you have a chance to, you know, easily put up 42, 49 points pretty easy. And then really nobody would be as mad or as frustrated, I should say, on our end.
But there are things that really there are no excuses for. You have to get better. We’re going into the SEC play next week. The nice thing is, we are 3-0. And I like the work ethic and the way we have been practicing. We will continue to do so. We will get better, and, you know, I think the team will be eager to get back out to practice next week, and we have to get things cleaned up. We are not playing to our standard upfront on the offensive line, whether we are getting beat, whether it is snaps, holds, you know, just things of that nature. But there is enough blame to go around to all groups in all areas, so we will address it and continue to work to get better.
Q It looked like Devin was okay coming off the field?
MARK STOOPS: He could have went back, yeah. He got the win, yeah. He could have went back. And, so, yeah.
Q Does it surprise you, the snap, did you see that?
MARK STOOPS: We’ve had some snap issues that have concerned us, you know, and it is a lot. He is playing a new position and we are working through that. And, you know, but we can’t do that. We overcame one of them, I believe, with the touchdown at the end of the half.
Q The offensive line, is there some sort of confidence?
MARK STOOPS: I really believe in, you know, our team. There is no question. We are going to work. We are going to grind. But we do have some expectations that we are not meeting right now at certain positions. There is no excuse for that.
Q Eli is playing well. Would you consider moving him back to center?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, we would consider it. We could go either way.
Q The defense was a point of emphasis. You seemed to remedy that solution. What was different this week?
MARK STOOPS: I think, you know, we have worked at it, we worked hard. We knew the last couple of weeks we have done really good things defensively, but we were not good enough in that area. And, you know, we cleaned it up some today.
Q 12 was really flying around, a lot of tackles today. You don’t see that often from the quarterback. What did you see?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think, you know, they were throwing some hitches out there. We were giving them some opportunities. But he was moving around pretty good. I have to watch the tape and see.
Q Coach, Barion Brown and Dane Key both didn’t catch a pass today. What do you have to get them going?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, we have to. You name it, it starts with, you know, getting an accurate pass, it starts with protection, which we had protection issues. Once again, I think we had some opportunities that we missed with throws. I’m sure there will be some details, you know, in the routes that they can improve on.
Again, it is all of us. All of us need to play together for it to function. And there is some frustration there with the offense in general because, you know, you are just not hitting it on all cylinders right now.
Q Ray’s situation at Vandy, maybe get overlooked a little bit. Is he getting better than a lot of people thought he was coming in?
MARK STOOPS: I mean, I am not going to say that. I sat there and said he was a pretty good player, you know. I like him. So he is good. He’s playing well. And, you know, that was a heck of a play by Devin and by him on a broken play. And sometimes you have to do that. And it certainly happens against us sometimes, you know.
Plays get off schedule, you have to create and have some guys that just have some instincts, and they made a great play on that.
Q Coach, preseason, plays like that, Leary keeping it all alive, how important is it when you are trying to work these things out?
MARK STOOPS: It is very important. Even in that moment we certainly needed it. And just to get the offense going, get them some confidence and for him to just get out there and play ball. Again, he was hurt early, early in the season last year. He is going to get better with reps. There were things he did well today and things we just missed.
Q Mark, I know you had big plays on offense, but still you only ran 49 of them. What else do you see going on with that?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, at half I want to say, you know, we didn’t run very many in the second half, it doesn’t feel like to me. I’m sure it is that way. Part of it, late in the game when we are playing a lot of guys we are letting them drive a little bit, you know, defensively. But offensively, you know, there are no excuses. We are giving up sacks, turnover, not converting on third downs, not getting enough plays. We have to be more efficient and that is the bottom line. You will keep drives alive if you don’t. We get the explosive play and, you know, get it down to the 10 and get a fumble, you know, just stuff like that, not good.
Q Ray, early on, just really a pace to play, and then is that something that is emotion a lot or does he stumble first?
MARK STOOPS: He has to continue to grind it out like all of our guys. We’ve talked about it all week. You know, none of us are as good as we are when we have all of us playing, you know, when we are all playing good. And, you know, that is every position. And we will get some touches to other guys if we all play good and get the protections, the runs, the plays. And ultimately when he had his opportunities he made some really nice plays and that was good to see in the run and the pass game.
Q We saw the tight-ends in the red zone a couple of years ago. Was that a key tonight, the production with (Josh) Kattus? Is that something that could get the offense going?
MARK STOOPS: I think, again, all of us, you know, we put it all together and there could be a lot of good things. I think, you know, we can be very efficient in the red zone. We were the last time he was here. I think there are a lot of things that we could do, that is a part of it.
Q What is the message you gave to Jordan Dingle after the play where he fumbles it?
MARK STOOPS: I mean, I told him it was one heck of a catch. We have to be smart when you are dragging guys, you have to tuck it. I couldn’t tell if he had the opportunity after a one-handed catch to tuck it and put it away. Certainly as you are spinning. I don’t like to see our guys with their backs to defenders.
Q Devin went back pretty quickly.
MARK STOOPS: We are not going to turn away from that. It was a remarkable catch, and Ron has got to tuck the ball away.
#85, Jordan Dingle, TE
On what it means that Devin (Leary) came back to you after you fumbled …
“It was basically the same play; it just had a different formation. He trusted me to make the play again, and helped build my confidence back up that they trusted me to try the play again and I was able to do.”
On how it felt to get the tight ends more involved in the offense …
“It honestly felt super good. I know the talent we have in that room and it’s always great when more guys can show what they can do, and I’m excited to show what we can do in the future. Just trying to be patient and understand that we have a lot of playmakers, so we have to be patient with our time, and you know we love to block.”
On how frustrating the mistakes are that keep you guys from showcasing what the offense can do …
“It’s not really frustrating. It is frustrating trying to lock in on all the little details, but with all the playmakers we have the sky is the limit. I can’t wait to see what the future holds once we get all the details cleaned up.”
#9, Tayvion Robinson, WR/KR
On the touchdown pass from Devin Leary in the first half …
“It was just a play where he found me, through the seam. It was cover three and he was looking at the seams and he came my way, and I made a play.”
On Devin Leary throwing a touchdown to Ray Davis while being sacked …
“I didn’t even see the play. So, after I ran my route, I was looking at the side, I thought it was sacked, and I look up and I see Ray cutting across the field, but that’s just him being a playmaker. Making plays with his feet, extending plays and always looking to throw the ball, so Ray was ready, and he made a play.”
On his muffed punt and how to move forward …
“This; short memory you know. You make mistakes, can’t let them carry over into the next weeks, next series of play, but it was miscommunication between me and my teammates, should’ve fair caught it, but you learn from it, watch some film, don’t let it happen again.”
#31, Maxwell Hairston, CB
On how it feels to be able to finally put together third down defense …
“Felt good, what was working right was just us, you know — following the call, doing our jobs, and just pursuing to the ball.”
On if he prides himself on open field tackles …
“Yeah, you know, that’s something I definitely worked on and [I] want to be a good tackler and I feel like every week you’re getting better attacking, but it’s just something you always have to keep working on.”
On what the defense saw tonight …
“What we did was we just looked at their top route concepts — looked at what they did on normal and down distance, first and second or third down. We just looked at their formations and when we would see what they lined up in, we already had a tail because we’ve been studying it all week — so we knew how to play it.”
#13, Devin Leary, QB
On the hit that he took to the ribs …
“Just got the wind knocked out of me. Kind of exposed myself a little bit too much. Got the wind knocked out of me, and I’m perfectly fine now.”
On how he thought the offense played …
“I mean — you just see a lot of it on the film. We just shoot ourselves in the foot a lot, whether it’s, you know, penalties missed, assignment, execution — and we walk away from the game, you know, obviously we’re very thankful and happy to be 3-0. But at the same time, there’s so much more we can do, especially as an offense, and we pride ourselves on that. So, definitely a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouth walking away, because we left so many different plays out there — but there’s so much room for improvement for this team.”
On if the way the offense played is an “attention to detail” thing …
“Yeah, I think so. I think it’s attention to detail. I think it’s, you know, making sure we understand our assignment — and really just not doing too much. Just at the end of the day — doing your job, doing what your coach to do. And it really starts with me. I think I need to do a lot better operating this offense, and just at the end of the day — making sure that we practice right. Making sure that we’re practicing every single rep every single day, like it’s a game. So, we’re definitely going to learn from this film, walk away, and be a better team because of it.
#1, Ray Davis, RB
On pass catching abilities …
“You know Liam Cohen believed in me to be a pass catcher in the back field, our running back coach just gave me the ability to be multi-dimensional, not just being a runner, to be able to catch the ball and block for my quarterback, and just you know yards after catch and do what I got to do to put us in positions to win and if that’s running or the ball at that, that’s what it’s got to be.”
On having a conversation about pass catching and running back …
“I mean, me and Devin talked about it a lot. I think you know, I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t know the type of player I was. I think they knew I could catch, they knew I could do some big things out in the backfield. I kind of showed that throughout my career. And you know, just them believing in me and putting plays in to play a role.”
On emotions of playing at Vanderbilt …
“This game is not Ray Davis versus Vanderbilt. It’s Kentucky football versus Vanderbilt football, that’s all that matters. With the last whistle, I think that my emotions came out, but I can’t go win everything and I’m just going to be this ‘rah-rah’ guy and it’s all about me and that’s never good. It’s just about going there and get the W do what I can for the team whether that’s running the ball, whether that’s catching, whether that’s blocking, you know it’s just about going in there and getting the W.”
KENTUCKY FOOTBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. AKRON
KROGER FIELD – LEXINGTON, KY.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2023
Akron Head Coach Joe Moorhead
On the explosive plays for Kentucky …
“Yeah, you have to give credit to Coach Stoops and his staff. They put together a really good game plan and they were able to make explosive plays in the pass game, I think Devin (Leary) threw for over 300 yards and the running backs were able to find some creases. I did not think we tackled particularly well. They moved the ball and put some points on the board. We moved it, were not able to punch it in the redzone, we missed a couple of field goals and played a very good SEC team so the margin of error is very small and we did not do enough today to bridge that gap.”
On the Akron defense putting pressure on Leary….
“Devin has good pocket presence, he’s a tough guy to bring down. I think there were three guys draped on him and he was able to check down and you know, the guy zig-zagged all the way across the field and we didn’t tackle him. So, credit to him for finding his guy and for the running back for making the play.”
On things Kentucky did to shut down DJ (Irons)….
“Statistically, I mean for the longest time with Coach White and Coach Stoops, they’ve been one of the top defenses in the SEC and there is a reason why. They are big and strong and athletic up front, they mix in one or two high coverages on the back and they swarm to the ball, put pressure on the passer. So, they didn’t come out and do anything particularly different from what we’ve seen on film, but what we didn’t do simple better. They executed their scheme from Coach White to a very high level.”