LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Comments from Kentucky coach Guy Morriss during his weekly Monday press conference, Oct. 1, in review of the Ole Miss game and in preparation for South Carolina:
On the defensive play taking a step backward in Saturday's 42-31 loss to Ole Miss:
"I don't know that they took a step backwards so much as they didn't take a very big step forward. I felt like, after looking at tapes and talking to coach (John) Goodner and his staff, the kids, a lot of times were in position to make the plays. We just didn't make them. First and second down, we played pretty good. Third down as been our problem all year long. We could not get off the field on third down. I think we had, John told me, 14 or 16 third-and-seven or longer (plays) and we got the job done on five of those opportunities. So we've got to go back and examine what we're doing on third downs that might be causing the problems. We've just got to continue to coach them hard and put them in a position to make the plays, then it's up to the kids to make the plays then."
On his comment about the defensive unit being 'flat' for Ole Miss, and possible personnel changes to help address that :
"The word flat was probably used wrong, I guess. When I say 'flat', maybe it's because they're not executing the way we would like them to all the time. But I have never questioned the effort of our kids in any game to this point. When I said 'flat', it was kind of scratching my head and wondering why we're not executing the way we should. It's got to be a case where it becomes more consistent. You can't execute well one week and not the next. But we have no qualms with the effort our kids are giving us...
"That's something we demand from them. If you have a situation that keeps going on, you have to make changes. Fortunately for us, I think our kids have played pretty hard each week. They've given us great effort. We don't really have a problem with our players there. Part of that, I think, is they respect the people that are coaching them and the system we're trying to get taught, what we're trying to do. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. I think once kids stop trusting coaches and stop believing in what they're doing, that's when the effort level isn't there."
On whether UK has enough athletes to be successful defensively :
"I think there's maybe a little bit of that. But I don't think that we have just lousy athletes. There is probably some degree of difference with some of the better teams in the league. I think it's just maybe a technical error here and there. Rick (Smith) was trying to explain to me (Jeremy) Bowie giving up the touchdown. The way they're teaching it is to knock down the inside arm on that particular type of throw. It's something that the inside arm is not knocked down, and the guy makes a one-handed catch with his inside hand. It's a technical thing. If we make that play, get the hand and grab the arm down, the play's incomplete. That did not happen on that particular play, and it resulted in a big play for (Ole Miss). Jeremy was right in position, running stride for stride with the guy, and that's one of the little things that can happen that turns into a big thing. We've had a lot of that on our part."
On adjustments to the receiving corps and the possibility of using some of the bigger players in place of the smaller ones:
"Yes. I don't know if you need to substitute size for speed, though. I think the fact that we get Brad Pyatt back will help us. He's a little bit bigger guy, a heavier, muscle kind of guy, a little bit stronger than (Derek) Abney or (Ernest) Simms. Hopefully, you'll see a lot of Brad. He's in the plans."
On the receivers thinking too much about dropped balls:
"I don't know if thinking is the word. Pressing, maybe. I don't think there's a lot of thought process into catching the ball. I do think that maybe some of the kids are pressing too much, trying to make things happen, and not concentrating on looking the ball in and tucking it away. I know coach (Harold) Jackson stressed that with them yesterday in the meeting, about catching it first, just elementary things you kind of take for granted, but you've always got to go back and reiterate. I think it's just a concentration problem."
On the quarterbacks' play against Ole Miss:
"On the quarterbacks, I thought there were some very positive things on both of their parts, and there's some things that both of them have to continue to work at. Was there a big difference in the way that each of them played? No. Not particularly. I think it's just a matter of which one that we think at this time gives us an opportunity to be successful."
"To be honest with you, we didn't even talk about quarterbacks this morning. We're just trying to get a handle on (South Carolina's) defense... And I don't know that we need to tell coach (Lou) Holtz anything at this point anyway. We'll wait and see. We've got all day today and staff meetings tomorrow to think about it."
On his relationship with Lou Holtz:
"I met him on occasion at SEC meetings. I like coach Holtz. He's a great motivator. He's got a great sense of humor. He can find humor in just about any kind of situation. He's got a lot of experience, and I have a lot of respect for what he's done throughout his career."
On South Carolina's rise from 0-11 two years ago to being in the hunt for the SEC East title this season, and parallels to the UK program:
"I think there's a lot of similarities. I'm not saying I'm Lou Holtz by any means or anything like that, but I think that they came in and took their lumps, so to speak. They were 0-11, but they basically implemented his philosophy and the things that he wanted to do. The thing that I see in South Carolina, they are playing extremely hard. I think that's one of the major things that we're trying to get our kids to buy into and do on a weekly basis -- great effort every week. We don't want a roller-coaster football team. And talking about defense, everybody's saying you're giving up all these yards and that kind of stuff, but you've got to go back to when you implement a new system, and you're making philosophical changes, right now just playing hard every week is kind of a significant step. I think it's just going to take a little time. I don't know what we'll end up this year, but hopefully next year we will make improvement and be better. How much better, I don't know."
"How do you say that (Holtz couldn't get it done after one year)? You've got to give a guy a chance, first of all. That type of turnaround doesn't happen overnight. That's just not being realistic to say you're not going to get it done because you went 0-11 the first year. These things take time."