Kentucky’s new-look offense got off to a strong start as Mark Stoops’ troops defeated UL-Monroe 45-10 to kick off the 2021 campaign.

“Very good win. It’s always good to get off the start of the season with a victory,” Mark Stoops said in his postgame press conference. “And, you know, it came with us making some mistakes, like I talked about all through the preseason that we were going to have some highs and some lows in practices and games and throughout the season. There’s going to be some ups and some downs.”

Stoops continued his opening statement with more of his assessment of what he saw Saturday:

“I thought our team responded. They were confident. There were a few mistakes early that we’ve got to get corrected. You know, the interception — Will has a little time there, had to be a little bit more patient. Put it on Josh (Ali) a little more. Josh could catch it. We’ll get that cleaned up.

“No excuse for putting the ball on the ground with fumbles and we’ve got to get cleaned up defensively — keeping that drive alive with penalties. That’s aggravating.

“Is it accurate that they had 63 plays on 87 yards? It felt a lot more aggravating than that. But it’s a credit to Coach (Brad) White and the staff. They really did a good job of preparing for many things. I also really credit Brad. They were well prepared for a lot of things. They knew they could see a lot of different things.”

Stoops then took questions from members of the media. Here are some of the highlights from the presser, with the head Wildcat talking about Levis, the new offense, Chris Rodriguez and more:

On Will Levis bouncing back from early INT: “We work all year long and then come out and start down 7-0 and, you know, it just pisses you off, but you just regroup. Truly, I have to practice what I preach as well — go on to the next play. It is what it is. I had a lot of confidence that we would. He was hyped up and he throws the ball hard as you can see today. You could see that he’s all that he’s been advertised for with his arm strength. It was good to go through adversity. Same defensively. Well, not really. That just pisses me off (laughter). Yeah.“

On the new passing attack: “Obviously it’s what I’ve been looking for, and I’m very happy about that. I talked a lot about it in the spring that we were getting the ball completed down the field. Will wasn’t here, but just the offense in general, the receivers gaining some confidence. We built on that this summer, and it was great to see them just complete passes, just the basics. We still have a lot of work to do with making the routine look routine. We have some pitch and catches out there that we’re fighting a little bit, but we’ll continue to get better.“

On if anything went better than expected: “Well, again I think I just told the defensive coaches I was really proud of them. I thought they were really in good position for some creative people. They’re always creative offensively. I know it’s new and they’ll get better as they go, but I felt like the guys were in really good position. It frustrates me when we’re not.

“And then offensively, for the most part again, with the terminology, getting the plays in, communicating, he did a lot of different personnel groups, a lot of different shifts motions there. You could see there’s a lot going on, and for the most part, very clean. We were exceptional at getting the ball down the field. There’s some basics like I said with the pitching and catching and some things that we can clean up that we’ll be much better. I don’t know, just rambled a little bit. I didn’t directly answer your question. I don’t want you to put me on the spot there and quote me on what I’m not happy with because there’s a lot to clean up but there’s also a lot of good. It’s game one. You’re happy to win by whatever we did and know that there’s so many things we could improve on.”

On J.J. Weaver bouncing back from torn ACL: ““I didn’t realize he had two sacks. Yeah, I was trying to get him out of there, and he talked me into another series and it’s good for him just to build his confidence and know because through camp we were protective. He’s fully cleared but I know from going through that, the more you play, you get more confidence, the stronger your leg gets and the more reps you get.

“So that’s good for him. I didn’t realize he had the two sacks, but I know late in the game, J.J. talked himself into getting a few more snaps. I think he wants to get his legs up underneath him.”

On the defensive linemen: “Yeah, I think Ox (Octavious Oxendine) and Josaih (Hayes) and Justin Rogers and all those guys, Kahlil Saunders, those guys have really worked hard, and we feel like they are going to be very good players. It’s good to get them reps and we’ll need them all year. They’ve been working hard. They really have good attitudes and I like those guys.”

On Chris Rodriguez rushing for over 100 yards: “You know that that has to be a staple. One doesn’t work without the other. You have to have the balance and the physicality. With Chris you saw some amazing individual efforts by him today and you saw the line blocking very well at times and there’s things we’ve got to get cleaned up in that area too, but you’ve got to have the physical presence.

“It was good to work on the pass game today and blend it with the run game because again in this offense you’ve got to have the balance you’re looking for.”

The full postgame press conference can be viewed on YouTube.