COACH STOOPS: Not our best effort tonight. That's one heck of a football team. You know, that's a team that's won 3 out of the last 4 National Championships for a reason. They do everything right from top to bottom.
Extremely physical football team. We got beat up out there tonight. We need to go back. We need to coach better, we need to play better, and execute the things and control the things we can control. And certainly we can do better in all facets of our team, and we'll do that.
Disappointing night. I thought we'd compete a little bit harder than that, but give credit to them. Like I said, that's the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason. I was really impressed with them, just like you watch them on tape.
Their quarterback ‑‑ they've seen it all. He's just extremely poised. They're physical. They can run it. They put you in all kind of predicaments and had us off balance most of the night like they do to a lot of people.
We'll get back, clean up the mistakes, and move forward with the second half of our season.
Q. Mark, what have you heard about Jalen and his status?
COACH STOOPS: He sprained an ankle. It was a pretty good ankle sprain. So I'm not sure.
Q. Coach, how physical were they?
COACH STOOPS: Very. That's a physical bunch. Yeah, that's a big, physical team that plays with great technique, and they're extremely well‑coached and very multiple. Put all that together, and it's a tough night.
Q. Alabama was helping out early, getting a couple of turnovers. You guys couldn't take advantage of it.
COACH STOOPS: No, we couldn't, and they were still driving it. They drove it down there, and we'd get the turnover, and they kept us back there, playing great defense. Even though we got a couple of turnovers, we were still behind the eight ball most of the night and chasing it. It was an uphill climb.
We had so much snaps in the first half. That's a combination of things, of us not getting first downs and not being able to stop them. They were getting plenty of drives. They moved the ball very well against us.
Q. Do you feel your defense was worn down a little bit because they were on the field so much?
COACH STOOPS: I do. I think it was going to be tough to begin with, and then to be out there a bunch of plays and get banged up, it was a tough night.
Q. How much of the offensive game plan were you able to execute without Jalen?
COACH STOOPS: The problem was he got most of the snaps (in practice). As we're trying to settle on this, most of the snaps went to him. So Max (Smith) got thrown into a tough situation against a great team. It hurt us in that regard.
Q. Were you encouraged by the first quarter defense especially?
COACH STOOPS: I guess you could say that. We were hanging on. Like I said, I felt like we were behind from the beginning. I just felt like we were just hanging on.
But I was encouraged. Looked like we had a couple of good hits and got the ball out. I thought we were fighting. We needed to have some good things happen, and that was helpful to keep us in it in the first half there for a while.
Q. When you were down 17‑0, you had the ball, and Max hit Ryan on that crossing pattern. When he didn't catch it, how big a play was that?
COACH STOOPS: I think it hurt us quite a bit. They go down and score again right before the half. We needed to be off the field. We've got to convert. It's tough enough.
Those are the things that I talk about. The things we can control, the things we can execute, we have to do those things against a quality football team.
I didn't feel like we gave ourselves much of a chance to win at any point, but certainly we could execute and do some things better.
Q. Are you unhappy about the way you guys tackled tonight? That seemed to be an issue there.
COACH STOOPS: It is. I think just going into it, seeing how physical they run it and how well their backs run and all that, it was a tough night.
Q. With this game behind you and 12 days now until the next game, do you approach this with your team as a clean slate?
COACH STOOPS: I do. We've got to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We've got to coach better. We've got to play better. That's not acceptable no matter who we're playing. We know how good Alabama is, but we could do some things better.
We didn't do our best tonight. That's why I'm disappointed. When you're playing the No. 1 team in the country, at least give them your best shot. Go toe to toe, and let the chips fall where they may.
They're a good team, and they do that to a lot of people. I've seen them do it to top-10 teams before as well.
That's what I told them. We've got to coach better. They've got to play better. We've got to hold ourselves and this program to a higher standard. We've got to play better.
And we'll do that. We'll clean up our mistakes, and we will compete for the second half of this season. I expect our players to bounce back and prepare the right way and play hard.
Q. With a team like that, how small is the margin of error overall offensively?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, it's tough. It's tough sledding. There's no way around it. There's no way to hide. You've got to man up, and you've got to line up, and you've got to play, and you've got to execute the things you can execute. Get better as a program, and that's how I want to approach it.
I want them to just go play the game the right way. Play as hard as we can and be in the right spots and look like a good football team.
We had a few here and there and all that, but overall it just wasn't pretty.
Q. Mark, how much did it affect your game plan? You'd been giving Jalen most of the reps in practice. How much did that change when you had that switch from one to the other?
COACH STOOPS: It did hurt us. We did have some designed runs, and Jalen got most of the snaps throughout the week. So like I said, that's a tough situation for Max to go into against that defense.
Q. Mark, are they just so physically tough, their talent, [ Indiscernible ] their culture, their numbers, what is it?
COACH STOOPS: You know, I did notice that throughout the week. I looked at their roster, and you guys could do the research on it exactly, but there's quite a few older guys in there.
That's what you do when you have a great program like that. They sprinkle in young talent, and they do a great job, but those are some big boys that have been around for a while.
You know they're doing things right in that program, and they're doing everything right. They're lifting. They're training. They're recruiting. They're developing the players they have.
So it's a great model to look at. But, yeah, I think those are some big boys. They're some older guys, yeah.
Q. How did you come out of it not just with Jalen but the other guys? Several guys sat out part of the game.
COACH STOOPS: I think we're pretty banged up, I do. I felt that. We've been in some big games for a while, and that ‑‑ yeah, that bunch, they beat us up pretty good.
Q. (Question regarding other injured players.)
COACH STOOPS: There's so many guys, I hate to get into it right now, but we're banged up.
Q. Mark, compared to the other three losses, what was different about tonight?
COACH STOOPS: Well, I think ‑‑ it's tough now. It's tough to be in that situation and to go through that. They make you feel that way. I played plenty of good teams.
Back in the day, when we first started at Arizona so many years ago and USC was unbelievable, there's a time when you're out there that it's not a good feeling. Let me tell you. There's not any magical calls out there. That's what I said going into it. That's the plan. There's nothing magical that you can call. That team has seen it all, and they execute things right.
And that's why I say you've got to go in there, line up the right way, do things the right way, and play them the best you can. That's what we planned on doing, and I was disappointed at times we did that and a lot of times we didn't.
That's just our execution. I think we can execute a little bit better.
Q. Did you notice any individual guys that looked like they were up to the challenge tonight? Obviously, collectively, they weren't, but individually?
COACH STOOPS: It's hard for me to say right now. I was disappointed in our overall effort.
Q. Coach, you look back on these last four games, is your record kind of deceiving about your progress and where you guys are right now as a team?
COACH STOOPS: I think we're making progress, but I don't think anybody cares, you know what I mean? The record is what it is.
I think I like this group. I think we ‑‑ we were uphill against a great team all night tonight. I'm a little bit frustrated. I'll wait and get back to work tomorrow and get these guys in position to compete and fight and get better the rest of the way through. I think we have been doing that.
Frustrating night tonight. But, again, give them credit. They can do that to a lot of people.
#11 Maxwell Smith, QB
On getting prepared for the game …
“I’m not getting a lot of reps (in practice), but you just have to be mentally prepared and I was doing that all week. I took a lot of notes and watched a lot of film.”
On playing Alabama …
“It’s tough when you have the two-time defending national champions come to your place. They all just do their job. Everybody does their assignment and that’s why they’re so good.”
On the upcoming bye week after playing four tough teams …
“We have some guys banged up, so the bye week is good. It will help us a lot.”
#40, Avery Williamson, LB
On getting stops early in the game…
“We had our confidence up, we felt like we could really stop these guys. We had the upper hand.”
On playing against Alabama…
“They won the national championship last year for a reason. They have a good team, a good solid team, a strong offensive line and they deserve to win national championships. They are great competition to play against. They hit us and we didn’t execute.”
On the rest of the season…
“The first half of the season is over with. I feel like these games are winnable and we could still become bowl eligible. We have to win five games to be bowl eligible so we have to grind and dig and try to get some wins.”
#16, Cody Quinn, CB
On playing Alabama…
“It was a great experience playing against the No. 1 team in the nation. It’s a great opportunity to go out there and perform and do the best we could.”
On his performance…
“I think I have to play much better. I know I’m capable of playing better ball than what I’m playing. I’ve seen myself play better ball . I just have to get back in the groove of how I’m used to playing.”
On if high school prepares you for SEC play…
“High school is totally different than this atmosphere right here. In high school, you totally dominate and don’t have to prepare for anything. Here, it’s much more mental stuff that you have to prepare and that’s what I need to focus on.”
#4, Raymond Sanders III, RB
On how he thought UK played today…
“We played hard. The defense played well. The offense just needed to execute better. We did expect the upset. We went in thinking win could win that game.”
On if Alabama is the best team they have played…
“Yes, they are the No. 1 team for a reason. They are big and fast. They are also physical and are very disciplined. Many teams try to model themselves after Alabama. We need to pick up some things from them.”
On if Alabama will win the national championship …
“I do not know about that. They are a really good team, but there are other good teams out there as well. They are always in the running. They are a really good team.”
#8, Javess Blue, WR
On what it was like to play Alabama …
“They were a really good team. They are the No. 1 team for a reason. You know they are going to come with the hard hits.”
#6, Jason Hatcher, DE
On what it was like to play Alabama…
“It was hard at times. They were a big, physical team. They were fundamentally sound and were able to move the play.”
On if they were overpowered athletically…
“They did some good things, and some other things that we were able to pick out. We were able to move a little bit and get some tackles.”
On what he was thinking after the first quarter…
“I was thinking that we were in the game, and had to keep up the intensity. As the game went on, they just wore on us.”
#28, Eric Dixon, S
On not letting Alabama score in the first quarter…
“That just shows how far we have come. Our defense is getting better everyday. We are focusing on getting better and executing. We came up short today.”
On if Alabama wore them down…
“They are a tough, physical team. They are the No. 1 team for a reason. We gave it all we had in the first half, and then we wore down.”