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Rich Brooks for all UK fans: “This loss makes me sick.”

Sawyer Smith threw for 267 yards and two scores and ran for a score but he also lost a fumble and three three interceptions in the loss to Florida. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Since I am not exactly sure how to describe Kentucky’s 29-21 loss to Florida Saturday night, let me turn to the words of former UK coach Rich Brooks the he shared on Twitter after the game.

“This loss makes me sick,” Brooks posted

Kentucky fans, players and coaches should agree. Kentucky had 21-10 lead going into the quarter with a third and less than a yard to go for a first down deep in Florida territory. An A.J. Rose run lost half a yard and then on fourth down UK went into the Wildcats formation with Rose and did not get close to making the first down.

That enabled Florida to rally being backup quarterback Kyle Trask after starter Feleipe Franks was knocked out of the game with a broken ankle to take a 22-21 lead. Even then UK had a chance to win when Sawyer Smith, making his first start after Terry Wilson was injured last week, drove UK into Florida territory.

Kentucky was in no hurry once it got into field goal range and three straight runs left UK about two yards short of a first down. Myself I would have thrown the ball at least once to 6-7 Ahmad Wagner, who had a spectacular first-half touchdown catch. Instead UK ran the ball to put the game on the back of redshirt freshman kicker Chance Poore. He had plenty of leg on the 35-yard try but pushed it right.

So instead of a win over No. 9 Florida, UK gave up 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and missed a likely game-winning field goal. Sure, two targeting calls hurt UK but up 21-10, officials don’t cost a team a win.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops offered no excuses and didn’t blame anyone, including Poore, unlike UK fans who felt the coaches got too conservative on both offense and defense in the fourth quarter.

“We lost the game. That’s all you can say,” Kentucky defensive tackle Calvin Taylor said.

Or maybe this game just showed what no Benny Snell and Josh Allen means. The last two years, Snell was one on short yardage situations and could control a game in the fourth quarter. On defense, when UK needed a big play, Allen often made it. Kentucky has to wait for someone to hopefully grow into those roles.

“There’s an awful lot of plays in the game and you never know which play is going to decide the outcome and there was a bunch in there that will jump out at all of us that go our way or don’t get a penalty, things of that nature, you know, can change the outcome of a game,” Stoops said.

A.J. Rose ran for 46 yards against Florida but got stopped on a crucial fourth down play in the fourth quarter. (Vicky Graff Photo)

“It’s situational football. We played very, very good football at times, and in certain situations, we’ve got to get better and execute better. Game comes down to inches. We’re short on the fourth down when we were up 11 and come back and run it on third down there and end up with six inches short or whatever it was, eight inches short, and missed the field goal.

“Comes down a game of inches. You know, that ball goes in (on the field goal), or we get that first down, we’re all sitting here saying that’s one heck of a football game.

“It was a quality game. It was a good football game. Two good teams. That’s the ninth-ranked team in the country and our team played — did some very good things, with a backup quarterback that did a lot of good things. I’m proud of our team.”

But as Kentucky fans have got used to hearing and seeing, being proud of the way the Cats play against Florida is one thing while beating the Gators is another. This could have been UK’s first home win over the Gators in over 30 years and UK’s first time to beat Florida in back to back years since 1976-77.

Instead, a few mistakes, a couple of costly penalties and some conservatism on offense and defense led once again to a game the Cats could have won against the Gators becoming a loss.

12 comments

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  1. Coaching lost this game!!

  2. Gran continues to be the gift that keeps on giving!

  3. We loss it right before halftime when we had the ball with little 2 minutes left and had chance to add on the lead. The play calling was bot the best for a 2 minute drill.

  4. Coaching and officiating was horrible.
    Smoke and Wagner should have been utilized more in crucial situations. As for the officiating…We need unbiased artificial intelligence to officiate games. Referees in every sporting venue are, all to often, determining the outcome of games. There must be a better and fairer way.

  5. This one is hard to swallow. I thought UK clearly looked like the better team and the aggressor for most of the game. Yes, Smith threw some interceptions, but I thought only one was on the QB. I can take that on the guys first game this season.
    I like AJ Rose, but the Florida players were too fast for him. He was too slow getting to the holes; he had one carry for 21 yards, so that means he carried 13 times for 25 yards. That doesn’t get it. I don’t understand why he was the player used on fourth down.
    Lastly, if you go back and watch, there are at least 2 other plays where Florida could have been called for targeting. One was so blatant that even the announcers were talking about it and could not understand the no call.
    I know UK was the better team, but like Cal says, these kids are not robots. I feel for Chance Poore today because you know he feels awful; but maybe he will use this to get better.

    1. I agree Old Fan. For three quarters that was as good a UK football team as I have seen. The UK defense was “laying the wood” Smith was looking great, and the UK offense was clearly having their way with Florida. When Franks went down, it looked like to me UK had a let down, or were gassed, while Florida bowed up. Say what you want, that backup QB for Florida hurt UK big time. I do feel for the UK place kicker. UK must own up, learn from this, and go punish Mississippi State. As bad as this loss is to take, UK showed the world what they can do. Mullen said as much. One loss should not be allowed to define a season.

      1. Every backup quarterback hurts UK….lot of historical evidence there. This may have been our only opportunity to crack the Top 25. With our secondary being inexperienced and depleted, Stoops/Gran calling offensive plays it is hard to believe we will be able to pull off any upsets. We have probably already given UL and Vandy hope and you know Stoops will find a way to lose to UT. It is what it is.

        1. Whether you agree or not the coaches called a good enough game to win. They did not throw 2 critical interceptions or miss a potential game winning field goal. Did we get conservative? Ray Charles could see that and he is blind and dead. But we did not execute when we needed to. Blame the staff if you choose but remember that same staff put us in position to win the game. And they are the same staff that won A HISTORIC 10 GAMES LAST YEAR! They can only call plays not execute them. IMHO. Still love my CATS !!!

          KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

          GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

            • Mike on September 15, 2019 at 8:58 pm

            Seems to be a consensus that conservative play calling did cost us the game. We did have turnovers, mistakes, penalties and poor execution by some but pounding the middle when nothing there all night and not playing the hot hand in the running game cost us the game. Yes, this does happen to a lot of teams but at UK it has been an abnormal pattern.

  6. Smith looked like a winner to me. UK looked as good with Smith at QB as they did with TW. Was he perfect? No. Gran used his TE’s too, which has been a pet peeve with one on here. The UK defense gave up 19 points when the game was on the line. Penalties at critical times, especially the targeting calls, and injuries doomed UK. All that said, this is a hard nosed UK football team that will bring it. I am ready to move on. Florida will see them again next year.

    Every offensive play that works is a great play called by a great coach. When a play fails, many blame the OC. The UK OL was coming off the ball, and opening holes for three Qtrs. If I have one complaint is that Smoke should have gotten the call on those critical short yardage plays, JMO. When you can’t get enough push to gain one yard on 4th down, credit the opposing defense. If Poore makes the FG, UK probably wins.

    1. Interesting when I transcribed my tape from Saturday night that Drake Jackson said he missed a block on one of those key runs that UK failed to convert

  7. Florida believed it was the better team and was going to win… and they did, even with a backup quarterback. They are not the 9th best team in the country though. Everybody, coaches and players, choked under the pressure to win with an 11 point lead going into the 4th quarter. Let’s see if we can learn from this embarrassing loss and make the most of a still promising season.

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