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Mark Stoops and Wildcats recap UK’s loss in Athens

This game will be one to forget.

Lexington Herald-Leader

Blame it on the weather or whatever other excuses you can find, but this was one tough game to watch. The Cats were only able to muster a total of 177 yards of offense in their 21-0 loss to Georgia.

Of those 177 yards, a mere 17 came through the air. Yes, 17 total passing yards and two completions were all that Lynn Bowden and the Kentucky offense were able to put on the stat sheet. Despite a gutsy performance by Bowden, it was painful to watch the UK passing game never get off the ground.

To make matters worse, those two completions actually came late in the 4th quarter. With the non existent passing game it made it next to impossible for the Cats to have any chance at beating the 10th ranked team in the country.

All of that being said, Kentucky still went to the locker room at halftime with the score tied 0-0. The defense answered the bell again and kept things competitive in Athens. There was just no answer for Georgia running back D’Andre Swift who tallied 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Even with the obvious offensive woes there is a lot to be optimistic about when you consider that every game left on Kentucky’s schedule is winnable. It is unclear if Sawyer Smith will see any action against against Missouri next week at Kroger Field or if the Cats will keep rolling with Lynn Bowden under center.

It had to have been difficult for Mark Stoops and select players to take the podium and answer questions from the media, but here is what they had to say via UK Athletics.

Mark Stoops

Opening Statement…

”Obviously, this is a difficult loss in a tough environment for us today. The weather was a big factor, but it was a very good football game. It came down to several plays that really made a difference. Give [Georgia] credit— D’Andre Swift is an impressive player. I just gave him a ‘congratulations’ after the game and wished him ‘goodbye,’ because he needs to go to the NFL. He’s an elite player. I’m proud of our guys. I thought we fought all night in a tough situation.

“We knew Georgia was going to respond the way they did, and I was proud of our guys. I promise you they left it all on the field. They played extremely hard, made some critical plays, but we made a few mistakes. That’s the difference in a game like this. You could boil it down, probably, to three or four plays that made a big difference. Starting with the punt, we talked about ball security, which Lynn [Boden] did an incredible job of all night. He didn’t put one on the ground. We dropped a touchdown, so you’ve got a few plays out there that could’ve made it a very close game.”

On whether Stoops considered putting Sawyer Smith in at QB...

”It was tough. I’m not going to withhold information from you guys— I’m very up front and try to be as honest as I can. He’s close, but it’s tough on a cold, rainy, miserable night to put him in, when he’s just barely getting close to being ready to play. He would go… He’d play if his arm was falling off, but I can’t do that to him again. It was a tough night and was going to be a tough grind, so we did what we felt was the best option was at that point.”

On what Kentucky’s defense was doing well to stop the run

”[Stopping the run] was a big challenge with them, as I mentioned all week. [Georgia] is big, they’re physical and their backs are electric. As you can tell tonight with some of the runs they made, they create some difficult formations. They do a nice job in the way they crack off some tight sets. They really get physical and block certain guys and bounce it to make it run on your corners… I thought our coaches had a really nice plan, and our guys really played hard up front/ We were precise on those little nuances of that type of fence.”

#1 Lynn Bowden Jr. | Junior | Quarterback

On the conditions and the difficulty of throwing the ball…

”It was wet, a little muddy and a little cold. You know, football weather. It was hard to throw the ball. I had to find the right grip on the ball.”

On the vibe between the first half and second half…

”I felt like our game plan was pretty straight forward. We executed some of the plays and others we didn’t. We will just have to live with the results.”

#93 Max Duffy | Junior | Punter

On what happened on the one bad punt…

”I just shanked it. I was having a decent night before that, so it was just one of those things that I would like to take back and do over perfect. I think three were long and three were short in the same night, so that is how punting goes. I am disappointed because we were in the game at that point and if I flip the field there then it’s big for us. It is one of those risk and reward things. I wasn’t good enough tonight, but hopefully I can bounce back and get better.”

On how a play like that shows the value to your position…

”It was huge. In a game like this, field position is always going to be huge. Jake Camarda did a great job tonight. I think he averaged 53 yards on six punts, so he was awesome. Unfortunately, I could not match him. Maybe that was the difference. It was big for us in the first half and then didn’t execute in the second half.”