By Dr. John Huang
Hey Everyone. If it’s Monday, it must mean it’s time for Mark Stoops’ weekly press conference—a thirty-minute media free-for-all to ask Coach anything you want. He may not tell you what you want to hear, but you’ll usually get a few juicy soundbites and a free lunch to boot. Today it was hot dogs, hamburgers, and a gourmet salad…and here’s my own personal take on what Stoops had to say.
The first thing I noticed was that Stoops had recovered nicely from the shock of last Saturday night. He appeared rock solid and determined to take down the Gators. He was focused and resolute…and yet joked appropriately with media members throughout.
Of course, the brunt of the question and answer session focused on the injury to Terry Wilson. The first six questions (six minutes and thirty-two seconds) of the presser had to do with the nature of the injury, how the team would respond, and the skills of backup quarterback Sawyer Smith. Stoops gave his first “it is what it is” at the 3:44 mark.
I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to recuperation from these types of injuries, so I was a bit surprised by how confident Stoops was in Wilson’s absolute and full recovery. The torn patella tendon is the same injury suffered by ex-UK safety Darius West, who made a full recovery. Terry naturally was a bit down when Stoops visited him on Saturday night, but his resiliency is unquestioned when it comes to bouncing back. At this point, there were no plans for a medical redshirt.
As far as Sawyer is concerned, Stoops was quite complimentary, but I detected that he remained understandably guarded in his praise. Smith has a great arm, is accurate, and has played a lot of football. He’s a nice guy who his teammates like and should rally around. Stoops is excited for Sawyer and is anxious to watch him grow…but he’s not Terry…so we better keep our expectations in check (my words, not Stoops’)
Stoops didn’t say much about the Gators. He talked about how disruptive their defense was. His remarks had big elements of the usual coach speak. I’ve noticed Stoops rarely speaks much about the opponent anyway. Part of it is just the desire to focus on what his team does best. The other part is that he’s gun shy about providing bulletin board material for the opponent.
Clean up this week involves obvious elements such as ball security, plus some not so obvious elements involving discipline. Let’s keep an eye on turnovers and bonehead plays for sure.
For the first time all season, no questions about Xavier Peters’ eligibility. That ship may have sailed.
Hope this helps. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.