MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

UK's Stoops expects to have injured Johnson at QB against Ole Miss

UK head coach Mark Stoops met with the media to discuss the&nbsp;<a href="http://local12.com/sports/uk-wildcats/johnsons-td-run-rallies-kentucky-past-tennessee-29-26" target="_blank">win over Tennessee</a>&nbsp;and to look ahead to a Saturday game&nbsp;<a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/363103297/Kentucky-vs-Ole-Miss" target="_blank">against Ole Miss</a>.&nbsp; (UK Athletics)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKRC) - UK head coach Mark Stoops met with the media to discuss the win over Tennessee and to look ahead to a Saturday game against Ole Miss. He expects to have Stephen Johnson at quarterback after he suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter against the Vols. Johnson left the game briefly but returned to score the winning touchdown on an 11-yard run in the final minute of the game.

Opening statement...

“Very proud of our team, proud of our effort. To come back and be able to finish that game off and get the win. Just like I expected, we got a great effort from Tennessee, but our players responded. We need to regroup and get back to work this week to play Ole Miss.”

On update on QB Stephen Johnson…

“He will be available to play this week, but not today or tomorrow.”

On team realization of significance of victory over Tennessee…

“I think they realize what it means. With all the information out there now at their fingertips at all times, you can’t help but to hear that. I think the days of being isolated and the things we preach on in good times and in bad, of just concentrating on us and being isolated, is easier said than done. Again, with all the information out there, with all of the credible media and all the information there’s a lot of coverage, there’s great exposure, and they get a lot of information. And then you put on top of that all of the people that think that they’re journalists and reporters that just talk about it all of the time. There’s an awful lot of information out there.”

On putting Lonnie Johnson ahead of Chris Westry at CB...

“Lonnie played well. He’s doing some good things, he really is. When we talk about competition and earning your way, it’s not lip service. It’s nothing against Chris, we need Chris to get playing better and it’s not that he has played poorly, it’s just that Lonnie played well.”

On Lonnie’s progress…

“With experience comes confidence. You get your confidence from you preparation and he’s really worked hard at it, he’s gotten more experience and he’s playing more confidently. Lonnie has a toughness about him that I really like. He brings an edge and an attitude and it’s a difficult spot. We’ll be challenged this week, that’s for sure with these wideouts and the way Ole Miss plays offensively. It’s going to be a real challenge, but I just like what he brings and he’s getting better.”

On Chris Westry as ‘future superstar”…

“I think I said that there are some superstars in that group and it’s true. I still think there are some superstars in that group. We’ve got to do a better job and they have to do their job and together there’s still a lot of potential in that group.”

On being bowl eligible…

“We all remember how difficult it is and we all remember that it wasn’t that long ago when we were scrapping to get six wins. So, I don’t think you should ever just take that for granted. I think that’s when a lot of issues start popping up across the board in your program. So we never want to take going to a bowl game for granted. We know how difficult it is and how quickly things can go the other way. We definitely want to take it one week at a time. So, six is important, we acknowledge that, always have, and it’s really important to get back and play well this week because, again, we all know how quickly things can get flipped. It’s really about us, and our mentality, and our team, and our standards, and hopefully we’ll play the same way this week as we did last week with our preparation.”

On characterizing Ole Miss’ wide receivers…

“They are very talented. I’m so caught up in a one-week season all of the time, but this could possibly be the best group that we have played all year. They’re just very talented players. They’re explosive, they’re big and strong, they make competitive plays across the board, and virtually every play that Ole Miss has is a run or a pass. So if they like the numbers, they toss it up and let their players make plays.”

On change of Ole Miss’ quarterback…

“If anything it gives you a few more options with his legs. (Injured QB) Shea (Patterson) obviously can as well, but he was definitely one to throw it. But Jordan (Ta’amu) definitely can hurt you with his arms and his legs. I didn’t see any step back, and that’s no disrespect to either player, it’s just a blessing to have two players like that. They have two great players so the narrative of “oh you’re playing a backup quarterback” throw that out the window, because we’ve all seen backup quarterbacks go in and play better than the starters a lot of the times. And I’m not saying any knock on Shea, I think he’s one of the best players in the league, I just think what Jordan can do with his arms and his legs, there’s going to be absolutely zero drop-off.”

On offensive line...

“I felt good about that. We talked about that last week in here and some of you observed that and asked about if continuity was the issue and I acknowledged that, I think it was. So the fact that we played all three guys in the interior for the entire game did help us. And with playing three tackles, that helped us as well because of where we’re at at that position. Those guys are banged up, I don’t know if they can handle every snap so we’re able to unload some of their pressure and split those reps up at tackle and that helped us.”

On OL Nick Haynes…

“He would’ve played had Drake (Jackson) not been able to come back in the game. Drake got a mild leg injury.”

On Jordan Jones…

“This was definitively more of the Jordan Jones that I’ve seen in years past. We saw flashes of that in game one and I think he was much more consistent in game two. I think he’ll get better as the year goes on. We need both him and Eli (Brown) because Eli did some good things as well and Eli needed the break. He can’t handle every snap right now as banged up as he is, so it was good to have both of those guys.”

On Jordan Jones’ time away due to injury…

“He’s constantly growing like all of us and Jordan is getting better and he’s growing up each and every week. We need his energy out there, that’s for sure, but we need the focus that he has right now. We need that all the time and I think he’ll be a better player if he continues to look at it that way.”

On importance of RB Benny Snell’s game…

“I think it was real important. I think everyone’s starting to realize that. We need to run the football. You have to be able to do it. We all want to be able to throw the football effectively, and we will, but you have to be able to run the ball. That opens up a lot of options and it helped us and it was important for Benny to get on track and I think you saw that. Benny played his best game by far. He was much more detailed and much more accurate in what he was doing running the football and his protection from the offensive line was much more consistent and we had great play out of our tight ends. I know they didn’t catch the ball and we all want them to, but with only having that many snaps it hurts everybody’s touches. We will complete more passes, we’ll get the ball to receivers, we’ll get the ball to tight ends when we’re running a lot of plays. That was a combination of things, when you turn the ball over four times and two of them were first downs and the other two were going for first downs and we fumble them, so you’re talking about a lot of plays that we left on the table. That’s a lot of plays because you can see when we didn’t turn the ball over, we had some very effective drives. Overall, still too many possessions were under three and that kills your number of plays right there and it puts the defense in a terrible position because you have to defend so many plays. So, we just need to get that fixed.”

On if there were any themes with the fumbles and if he has any concerns…

“It concerned us going into it. We addressed it; we talked about it, especially on a cold night, that ball gets dry and slippery. We talked about it and emphasized it. Obviously coach (Eddie) Gran and our offensive coaches have done a great job all year of teaching that and emphasizing that and we have to get back to it. We will address it and we will talk about it and stress it and then we’ve got to move on and have the confidence that we will take care of the football.”

On if Stephen Johnson’s pass completion percentage has gone done because he is banged up…

“I think it’s just like everything that you hear me talk about all the time. It’s a lot of pieces to it. Is it protection, is it drops, is it getting open, is it on Stephen? I think it is all of the above. I think Stephen will take some of that. He maybe missed a few reads, a few throws. Receivers can certainly catch it. They can get open and we could get better protection. It’s always putting it all together.”

On how the team did with competitive plays…

“Better. Much better. We made some competitive plays, defensively. Offensively, there were a couple big catches that were huge. Tavin (Richardson) had two that were great plays that we needed. Those are difference-makers. Lonnie (Johnson) made a great play. He had a competitive pass and we had better coverage across the board.”

On the unique challenges he faces as a coach moving into the last four games…

“No different than every day. It’s always a challenge. You’re dealing with young kids and a bunch of guys in your program that you have to have ready to play. It starts with mentally being focused and ready to prepare for a great week and getting them to play better each and every week. I think we’re going to hit that stride, I really do. I feel like we’re going to play some much better football and more consistent.”

On the last time he had a team have four fumbles and still win the game…

“I don’t know. I don’t keep track of things like that. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a game where I’ve been minus four and won.”

On what freshman DL Quinton Bohanna did well against Tennessee…

“I was about to say everything, but I didn’t want that to be used against me. Let me re-phrase. He did well in all phases. He executed his assignment on blitzes and certain techniques that we needed to be better than we were a year ago. He executed some things and had some awareness. He was physical. He played with great effort. He did some good things. Very good. Made tackles, he’s had more production out of that position than we’ve had in a while. He did some good things. He’s actually our player of the week defensively. Within our own team he’s our defensive player of the week.”

On when recruiting him if he thought he could help right away, or has he progressed faster than expected…

“I think he has probably exceeded my expectations for his first year. I knew he was going to be a very good football player. He’s played well as a freshman. That’s a tough position, as you know. Play nose (guard) in this league you’re getting banged around pretty good.”

On how big it is to get a freshman guy at that position who can give him several years instead of a junior…

“We needed it. We are very grateful that he’s here. I love his attitude. Our players like him. He’s got a great demeanor about him. He’s very focused. He is on a mission and I just like the way he handles his business. If he continues to progress he has a chance to be a really good player.”

On if there is something in the film that’s not on the stat sheets that tells him why he played so well…

“Without getting overly technical, we all know the basics, you have to be firm up the middle. There were some techniques and executed movements that he’s quick on his movements. For a big body to be quick on his movements is important. But, he’s also very stout and disruptive. Without getting overly technical, when a nose is just playing a zero, when he’s not moving, it’s very easy to get doubled and bounced out of there. Then they climb and they can get both the nose and the person up the middle, whether it’s the Mike (middle linebacker) or the Will (weakside linebacker). Depending on three by one or two by two. Basically up the middle, you have to be strong at the point of attack and he’s not getting bounced around.”

On if Jordan was able to make tackles because the people in front of him were doing their job…

“Basically, in general a lot of time it happens. Tennessee does a nice job and they hurt us early in the game really on the perimeter, as well. Some of those guys inside the gaps get very big and you have to be able to run and get flat. They create space. They did a year ago to us up there. We did a much better job this year in particular after maybe a quarter, quarter and a half. In the second half we really did a good job. If we don’t give up the 4th-and-25, or whatever it was they, end up getting about 118 yards in the second half. We gave up 86 bad yards at the end that really we should have taken care of.”

On if it was something about Tennessee that led UK to get seven sacks or was it the defense making progress…

“We felt like we could pressure them a bit. Yes, we did in our four-man rushes. We felt like our guys had a chance to get some big plays and they did.”

On the difficulties on trying to get Tennessee to turn the ball over…

“We do need to do a better job. We did a really good job early in the season and going to games without a turnover is not good. We’ve got to create some turnovers defensively. I cannot believe that he (UT quarterback Jarrett Guarantano) held on to the ball a couple times. The one time when Lonnie had the sack I can’t believe that ball didn’t come out. They did a nice job, maybe once later it could have been that one that they recovered. I’m just trying to refresh my memory whether there was a ball on the ground or not for Tennessee that they recovered. Sometimes with fumble recoveries it’s luck. You have to fall on it. So it’s 50/50 when the ball is on the ground. Some of it is luck. Some of it is taking it away. Just like I said with Lonnie’s hit, that was a great hit, blind side and you would love to see that ball come squirting out and you have to give him credit for protecting the football there.”

On if he got any clarity from the league office about the penalty for everybody…

“I had no issue with anything. I thought they handled it well in trying to keep (control), none of us want to see anything get out of hand. I have to do a better job and we will address it today. I think they were just trying to make sure they kept the game without getting out of hand as far as players and getting disputes and fights and all that stuff.”

On if they heard or saw anything that led to the unsportsmanlike warnings…

“I don’t know. I don’t think so other than the fact I didn’t like there was a bunch of guys getting together right there. None of us ever want to see a melee. There is no place for any of that. It’s a heated game, it’s a rivalry game. You know it needs to be handled the right way on the field and I think they did it the best way they could.”

On Stephen Johnson ran out of the locker room after injury, how did it affect the team…

“Like I said after the game you just have to admire Stephen and his toughness and determination. It doesn’t surprise any of us. I think he was kind of mad that he had to go in but we had to make sure we checked him out. We felt like it was an injury that (athletic trainer) Jim (Madaleno) had a good idea of what it was but you have to go in and check it to see what degree and make sure there aren’t other issues. So I had a good idea he’d come back. I do think it does say a lot about him and it does help us. It helps the team the fact they he wanted to sprint back out as soon as he could. He didn’t miss very many plays.”

On if he hurt his shoulder more after landing on it on the touchdown run…

“Not that I know of. I’m sure he’ll tell you. He is definitely very sore. I saw him Sunday and he was beat up. He was beat up pretty good. I had my youngest boy with me for an hour at the office on Sunday. We were walking around, went down and saw some of the guys in the training room and normally every once in a while, Stephen and some of the boys they’ll all go bowling with my kids. They talked about going bowling and I looked at him and told him you better not think about bowling today. He was beat up pretty good.”

On if was surprising that Stephen kept the ball on his first play back…

“It was but he made clean reads all day and that was the good thing. Some of this year, he has to make a lot of decisions whether it’s RPOs (run-pass options) or zone reads. He has to make a lot of decisions obviously. We’d maybe just be a fraction off here or there. As I mentioned whether it be RPOs the week before I mentioned some of that where he had a few reads that he missed. But he was very accurate this week with making decisions.”

On Lynn Bowden’s decision-making on kickoff returns…

“Yeah, one was questionable, you have to have better awareness of that, but he has made good decisions. He is very coachable, that is the good thing about him. You know he is one of those guys who takes the coaching and understands it. That’s why he is able to do what he has done and play receiver right now. He has never played that position. I think people just think you can line up at wide receiver -- get him the football -- but you have to learn a lot of things. Lynn has done an exceptional job and is going to be a great player but he is coachable and instinctual. That’s the good thing. He gets it very quickly.”

On how backup QB Drew Barker has been practicing…

“He’s doing good. He’ll be fine. Drew did a good job, he made good reads, good decisions, obviously can’t put the ball on the ground. That comes from some playing and experience too. Drew is going to be just fine and honestly I had total confidence when he went into the game. The fumble hurt. That hurts your confidence, a lot of things, but he would have been just fine and I was excited to see him. I knew Stephen was coming back. I wanted Stephen to come back but it has always been like that for us this year. Just like when Jordan (Jones) got hurt. I said I’m excited to see Eli (Brown). We have guys that are working and working to get their opportunity. We always tell them that they are one play away. Perfect example of it right there, that’s why you have got to prepare the right way every week. And I’m certainly glad Stephen came back obviously but I was excited to see Drew play and I think he would have done a good job if he had to stay in there.”

On if his fumble was due to not being hit in a while…

“I’m sure that’s part of it.”

On if the culture has changed…

“I think you never take that for granted, I think you always work at that. You know it is difficult. It’s just like people assume, well, maybe Tennessee is not having as good of a year as they’ve had so you’ll beat them. Well, you just don’t beat someone twice in 33 years just because. I mean you’re changing your culture, those things are very difficult. We’ve talked about it a lot but when you’re changing a mindset that goes very, very deep rooted. Like I said, with all the information they have you can’t (take) those things for granted.”

On Stephen’s leadership and demeanor on the sidelines…

“I think he has a great demeanor about him. I think that is earned not given. It’s earned by the way he goes about his business, his work ethic. You know so all of that works in his favor, works for him and he leads the best way he can. He is a strong leader on this team. He doesn’t have to be overly demonstrative, be too loud. He leads the way he thinks is necessary and he does a very good job. Our team responds well to him. As far as comparing him, I don’t know if that is fair. He is just unique in his own way and he is special. He’s a winner and I think everyone knows that.”

On if the running game and run defense helped win the game…

“Well, I can’t beat a dead horse here but I said 80% of SEC games if you out-rush them by one yard you are going to win 80% of them. What we don’t want to do is put the ball on the ground four times and have to overcome that. We were very, very efficient running the football. Coach Gran, Coach (John) Schlarman, Coach (Darin) Hinshaw, the whole offensive staff they did a very good job and I’ll just leave it at that. I don’t want to get too technical. But the bind that they were putting Tennessee in the run game was complicated and was very good and very, very efficient. Everybody thinks it’s brawn and running the ball and being physical and that’s a big part of it but he had them very much off-balance. You know I think it would have been effective most of the day had we not put the ball on the ground.”

On thoughts about Ole Miss…

“We expect a great game from Ole Miss. They have very talented players as I mentioned and they have great pride within their program. Without a doubt, who can we take lightly? It’s no matter who we are playing. We have to play our best football or we’ll lose. So we have to play well. Have to prepare the right way. We need to build on some of the good things we did a week ago. I thought the players had great focus. I told you in here I had no reason to believe the guys wouldn’t have a great week. And that was prior to seeing them on Monday and they did. They had a great week of practice. These players have great pride in what they do and now we need to be consistent. You know we have to have another great week of preparation and have that same focus and attention to detail and worry about ourselves.”

On having multiple last-play, game-on-the-line situations this season…

“I think it’s always important to learn those situations. I was not real pleased after watching the tape the way that ball was completed at the end. And you learn from those situations. We tell our players all the time, every two-minute drill, every situation, all the time (in) football you could work it as many times, thousands of times, and it’s always different. Just like the way the last plays played out for them. I think they got 86 yards in nine seconds. It was 4th and 25 and they convert. I was so mad that they converted it but then I look at the film and it was an unbelievable throw and catch. It dropped in there by inches. I was pissed you know, Jordan (Jones) had to back up and make a play on the ball and he kind of floated a bit on that but they convert that. Then they scramble for 13 yards and throws the Hail Mary so we need to play those situations better. The one play again on Jordan (Jones) ball just dropped in there. Was a remarkable throw and catch. Then the run you can live with because it is burning time. The last play we need to do a better job. We were in position, we executed it exactly how we play. We talk about getting on the point and disrupting the receivers so they don’t have a free release and just have got to play the football better.”

On Drake Jackson’s play on the offensive line…

Yeah I think it’s real important. We’ve all talked about that in here and kicked that around with injuries. And Nick (Haynes) not being at 100 percent and Cole (Mosier) getting hurt. You know we had to shuffle it around and as I’ve told you as we’ve touched on all year we would find the right mixture and that comes from experience and playing guys and fooling with it and he got better.”

Information courtesy UK Athletics

Trending