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Mark Stoops: “Never going to apologize for a victory.”

Josh Allen (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Always remember this — there are no bad Kentucky football wins.

Despite back to back winning seasons and bowl trips, Kentucky football still has few gimme wins, especially in Southeastern Conference play. So use words like ugly, nasty, or inefficient for Kentucky’s 14-7 win over Vanderbilt Saturday night. Just don’t say it wasn’t a needed win.

Just as one might guess, with Kentucky struggling its two best players — running back Benny Snell and linebacker Josh Allen — made the biggest plays.

Snell scored the winning touchdown on a 7-yard run with 8:04 to play to cap off a 12-play, 80-yard drive where he carried the ball 10 times. If that’s not impressive enough, Kentucky did that with three backup linemen — Luke Fortner, Mason Wolfe and Darian Kinnard — in the game.

Snell finished with 169 yards on 32 carries and once again was an absolute warrior in the fourth quarter.

Allen forced a fumble on Vanderbilt’s last possession when he he stripped quarterback Kyle Shurmur and teammate Mike Edwards recovered the fumble. You might remember Allen did the same thing on the final play of UK’s win at Florida. He finished with eight total tackles, five solo stops, two sacks, two tackles for loss and one pass breakup along with forced fumble.

On a night where UK’s offense struggled with its passing again — quarterback Terry Wilson was 3-for-9 passing for 18 yards — it was the defense and Snell that had to win a game that boosted UK to 6-1 (bowl eligible) and 4-1 in SEC play. Kentucky has now won four SEC games three years in a row.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he was happy his team could “grind out” a win thanks mainly to the defense that overcame turnovers on UK’s first two possessions and held Vandy to 284 yards.

“Never going to apologize for a victory. Certainly there are things we need to do better. We always do that. Win or lose, we’re going to go back to work, look at ourselves, look at things we can do better, starting with me,” Stoops said after the win. “Again, you can’t apologize for being 6-1.”

No, you can’t or shouldn’t. But you have to worry about the offense, especially the passing game. Going back to the second half of the South Carolina game, Kentucky has scored three touchdowns and only 21 points in 29 possessions. That formula won’t produce a win at Missouri in UK’s next game — Missouri scored 63 points Saturday in a win over Memphis — or the following week against Missouri.

The problem stems from a non-productive passing game. Quarterback Terry Wilson ran for 12 times for 91 yards but in a game where Stoops insisted he wanted to get the ball to more receivers — he especially said UK had to target tight end C.J. Conrad — there were just three pass completions and they all went to Lynn Bowden.

Stoops admitted UK had to get more out of the passing game.

“I think, once again, the (turnover) possessions. When you finally get a drive starter, Terry makes a good decision on second down, rips off a 15-yard run, puts it on the ground, that doesn’t help,” Stoops said. “Then we go to throw the ball, throw a little swing pass, put that behind us, fumble it. You’re behind the sticks all night. Those kind of conditions don’t help us. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”

No you can’t and Kentucky won this game because its best players did what a team needs stars to do when the game is one the line.
“To put it on Benny’s back there when, once again, everybody knew he was running the ball. Thought our offense, the coaches did a really good job of getting formations and keep on finding ways to open up some holes,” Stoops said. “Our O-line’s mentality, their toughness, and Benny making some really good runs, really felt like we had an opportunity even at the end there to get that last run to put it away, to ice it. We just missed it by fractions.

“But they did a really good job. Of course, Josh, predictable pass situations, that’s when he’s at his best. Doesn’t surprise me (what he did).”

12 comments

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  1. Absolutely one of the most anemic offenses I have seen at UK since Uzelac. If it wasn’t for the defense, this team wouldn’t even be worth watching. Glad the defense has improved so much from last year because if they hadn’t, this team wouldn’t win a game.
    1 passing TD in the Red Zone ALL SEASON
    Until tonight, no 3rd down conversions in the 4th qtr since game 2
    Between last week and tonight UK had something like no plays on the opponents side of the field in 19 of 21 drives.
    No wonder Rondale Moore went to Purdue over UK. He is a superstar on offense and getting to prove it. They actually throw the ball to receivers.
    Gunnar Hoak must need to practice on his hand-offs since that is the only qualification to play QB at UK.
    Don’t understand why UK has so much talent on offense but refuses to use any of them. Gran bragged before the season on how great the receivers were going to be and how much he was going to use Conrad. Oh yes, I forgot, you have to have a qb that throw the ball more than 5 yards for those things to happen.
    Would not surprise me to see some good offensive players leave UK after this season.

  2. Stoops/Gran bailed out, in spite of ONE of the most conservative, boring, predictable , offensive game plans these eyes have ever seen and definitely ONE of the most inept, pathetic quarterback passing performances as well. You can’t make up 3-9 completions for total of 18 yds., and I would prefer not to hear that we are still 6-1. As I have said more than once this team is winning in spite of Gran and not because of. We need to give Clark some PT because Hoak is probably gone after season. Stoops does still not have the stones to hold Gran accountable. We can’t continue to record W’s with zero passing attack. Turnover Terry gets worse as the season moves forward. Does anyone know if Baker, Bowden, Conrad, and Richardson are still on the team? Rumor had it that we had some very skilled players on offense.

  3. And you shouldn’t have to Coach. Thank you for giving the BBN a truly SEC caliber team. Thank you for building a defense that only gives up a nations leading 12.85 points a game. Thank you to the players that stayed and bought in. Thank you to the three reserve O line guys who found the heart to lead us on the game winning drive(when the whole world knew we were running BSJ). Thank you to BSJ for being the beast that you are. 6-1 no one would have seen that coming and after giving up over 80 points in the last to game last years no one saw this defense coming. This group of players and coaches have shown what they are capable of(with plenty of room to grow) and I hope that the players chose winning over individual stats like those great young men in our basketball program do every year. It can work in both sports. Next man up is a key to building the type of football team that the entire BBN wants and deserves. 6-1 no apologies needed.

  4. I think it’s time to give Hoak a chance. This sceniro could hurt Stoops recruiting a qb position if doesn’t have confidence in his second or third string quarterbacks

  5. 6-1

    For 2 weeks, it was clear the game plan against Vanderbilt would be run, run, and then run again. Vandy can’t stop the run, and UK has a premier running game.

    6-1

    6-1

    AND in the hunt for the SEC East Championship, and what is it, nearly Halloween?

    6-1

    1. Yeah, 6-1 and 4-1 is great, and UK has a great running game as long as their OL opens holes, and Snell stays healthy. That said, Carolina found a way too shut it down and so did A&M. Opposing teams can look at film on that. Vandy did too, for awhile. Mizzou will game plan to stop the run. If they do, UK will find a win in Columbia much harder to obtain unless they can find a way to pass the football, in a balanced attack, using both the pass and the run. UK will get a real test come Sat 10/27, just watch. Missouri is very capable football team, especially at home.

      The UK defense has stepped up time and time again this year. Snell and the OL are awesome, but UK needs some passing yards and some scores through the air down the stretch here. If Mizzou shuts the UK offense down early Sat, I for one would like to see what Hoak can do through the air. At least for a series or two. GO CATS!!

  6. This team has at least 2 STUD players and 1 mentally challenged, severely handicapped DUD OC.

  7. I am most afraid that Gran’s system and his decisions are about to cause some great problems for UK’s future recruiting. Why would any really good qb or receiver want to play for Gran??? All the receivers do is practice their butts off day after day, just to run down the field 30-40-50 times on a Saturday, just to block. Watch UK’s receivers. They are never looking back, they are never really trying to get open, they are just running down the field to pull defenders away. Bowden was one of the most dynamic players in high school football, and what has he been given the chance to prove at UK?? Conrad is supposedly one of the best tight ends in the country, but what has he been given the opportunity to show? Hoak was one of the better passing qbs in high school, look where he is now; sitting on the bench and very, very seldom even given a chance to see the field in 3 years.
    I believe both Hoak and Clark are gone at the end of the year because we all know Wilson isn’t leaving early for any kind of draft, and Gran will never change now because it might look like he was wrong.
    If I was an opposing coach, there is no way an offensive player I wanted, would even take a second look at UK after I showed them the stats from players at their position under Gran.
    I know also, there are players are the current team that really feel they were mislead by Gran and others on what type of offensive system would be used, and what their roles would be.
    I truly believe Gran is hurting our future.

  8. Let’s fire them all.

  9. I truly believe that this staff has done exactly what they told these young men they would do. Which is play in the toughest conference in college fb, help UK become a nationally ranked team, change the culture of a program and compete for a championship. On that they have delivered. 6-1 and in control of there own destiny for an SEC East crown proves that. Like them of not this coaching staff has delivered on their promises. #12 in the country. Promises kept.

    1. UK has reached a 6-1 mark, and yes they are tied for first place in the SEC East. That is remarkable really based on a lack of offensive fire power the past several games we have all witnessed. That said, I don’t believe UK can beat UGA or win the East, or SEC Championship, until they get their offense in gear. Mike is as right as rain. I will take some heat here, but I’m not real sure this UK team, with the way their offense is playing now, can go into Columbia and beat a good Missouri team this coming Saturday . I have watched that team play. They are very talented. I hope UK proves me wrong.

      Example, UK had two weeks to prepare for Vandy, and UK should have destroyed Vandy, but I give Vandy and Coach Mason a ton of credit. Offensive football starts where everybody else’s does, with a QB that can distribute the ball effectively. With a OC and head Coach that can make tough decisions in the heat of battle. UK rank s 96th in the nation, last I saw. in total offense. UK must find a way to fire all their bullets to give them a chance at doing something very special this season. I am not saying abandon the running attack either. UK has the play makers, we all agree. Problem is, the play makers are not seeing many touches come game time. 3 completions out of 9 attempts for a grand total of 18 yards and 1 TD is not good passing numbers any time. You will not beat the best in this league or in the nation with that kind of performance. The UK defense will eventually falter under the load if this offense don’t start producing yards and points very soon. It should not be on Snell’s shoulders, or on the UK defense every game.

  10. The game at Missouri will be a tough game, but UK will win by more than a field goal, and perhaps more than 1 TD.

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