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What kind of midseason grade would Mark Stoops give himself?

Kentucky will need its best game to play with Georgia. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Halfway through the regular season Kentucky is 3-3 — which is what I thought would be the worst case scenario for coach Mark Stoops’ team when the season started.

I just didn’t think Eastern Michigan, Toledo or Arkansas could beat UK. That left Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi State. I thought UK would win at least one game, maybe two. Never did I think UK would go 0-3 in that stretch like it did.

However, I also didn’t know that quarterback Terry Wilson would go down on a horse-collar tackle in the second half of the second game against Eastern Michigan resulting in a knee injury that would end his season. Also didn’t know that backup quarterback Sawyer Smith would get so banged up he could barely pass or run at Mississippi State to force Stoops to turn to receiver Lynn Bowden at quarterback to beat Arkansas last week.

So going into this Saturday night’s game at Georgia, what kind of grade would Stoops give himself at midseason?

“You know I’m not going to do that. I’m going to leave that to you. You know I can’t do that, no,” Stoops said at his weekly press conference. “Any time you got to make sure you’re doing the things necessary and you’re growing and getting better. The minute you think you got it all figured out, you’re done in this profession.

“We’re constantly looking to get better. We’re in a learning environment. We learn and grow in every opportunity, just try to get better.”

Kentucky has to get a LOT better this week. Kentucky is a 25-point underdog at Georgia, a team that got upset in overtime by South Carolina last week.

Stoops admits this game is “very important” for a lot of reasons.

“You can’t ever get too far ahead of yourself or you get slapped around in a hurry. So you just kind of keep things in perspective, handle the day-to-day, prepare for each week,” Stoops said.

“Georgia is just what they are, a top five team. I know they took a tough loss last week. Again, you hear me say it all the time. Tell me one team that is going to play their best 12 weeks in a row. Doesn’t happen. Some of the elite teams overcome it, Georgia normally does. When they don’t play their best, they can still win with the talent they have. Didn’t happen for them last week.

“No doubt in my mind how they’ll respond. Their team has a lot of pride. They’ve won a lot of games. They’re going to come back stronger than ever this week. We have to make sure we match that, continue to improve, play our very best. We need to play our best football game of the year.”

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  1. On offense, they have a legitimate excuse for the injuries that no one could have expected. The offensive line has been a disappointment at times this year, based off of preseason expectations. Overall i would give the offense a C+ so far.

    On defense, that is the major problem with this team. How did they forget to tackle in such a short period of time? I know the backs are young, but not being able to execute the basic fundamentals of spacing and tackling is not excusable! The defensive line was suppose to be a strength, not in the first have of the season! I give the defense a D.

    Special teams have been the bright spot of this team so far! Great kicking game! Good coverage and tackling! Returns have not been so great, but adequate. I give the Special teams a B+

    Coaching has started to come around, But way to many mistakes in key situations. I know they have been tested, but I have to give the coaches a D-. Not having players prepared year to year goes on the coaches. Getting past Georgia without any injuries is the secrete to salvaging the season. We should be able to win the rest of our games with a little luck and hard work.

    1. A very accurate assessment all the way thru. Biggest disappointment for me has been both lines with D line being a little more offensive. Linebackers out of position a lot and has been that way for most of Stoop’s tenure. The tackling didn’t get bad in a short time as this has also been a problem since Stoops. The D line finally has the physical tools to compete in SEC but not sure they have the hunger. A couple of them have been good at times but Big B has been a disappointment. Also waiting for Brad to realize that sometimes blitzes do work. Just hope we can keep it respectable tomorrow and stay relatively injury free.

  2. A “C” at best sitting at 3-3.

  3. I give Coach high marks for adjusting to the QB injuries.
    We should have won the Florida game and that loss brings the overall grade down to a C+ from me.

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