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Mark Stoops encouraging fans to make trip to Vanderbilt

Mark Stoops hopes Kentucky fans will follow the team to Vanderbilt Saturday. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

If Kentucky had beat Tennessee Saturday to get to 5-4 going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Vanderbilt there might have been a near capacity crowd of only UK fans at the game.

Instead, UK lost 17-13 to the Vols after having a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. That had Kentucky coach Mark Stoops “encouraging” fans to still come to Nashville Saturday that has turned into a “must win” if the Cats are going to get bowl eligible because a victory over Louisville in the final game is no given.

“It’s very important to have our fans there. I think that our fans like going to Nashville, it’s close, they can drive, much of the state is very close to getting to that stadium. So, hopefully we will have a lot of fans there,” Stoops said in a pep talk for fans like he might give players before a game.

“I know our players love seeing their family and their friends, and the Big Blue Nation and we hear them. We played well the last time we were in there and hopefully we will go and play good this year, this week.”

Stoops is changing UK’s normal travel routine. The Cats will leave a bit earlier than usual Friday and go to the Tennessee Titans’ indoor facility to “have a brief workout” to hopefully break up the monotony of a long bus ride from Lexington.

“We are going to leave earlier, go there, grab a quick lunch, have some meetings, go have a quick workout and come back,” Stoops said.” Hopefully that will change some things up because I wasn’t pleased with the last time that I drove to Tennessee. Hopefully that’ll help.”

The last time was to play Tennessee in Knoxville last year and the Cats were dominated in a game Tennessee won much easier than the 24-7 score showed.

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  1. Have no intentions of watching a team that runs the same play 40-50 times a game and then wonders “What happened?”
    I like Stoops, most of the time, and I like what he has done for UK Football; but let’s face it. He has personally caused this QB situation himself.
    He had Hoak for 3 years. Talked about how much confidence he had in him. Said he needed to find him playing time to get ready.
    He never did. When there were times he could have put Hoak into a game for meaning snaps, he didn’t. When he did put him in, most of the time it was just handing the ball off.
    Hoak is a pocket passer, not a Stephen Johnson or Terry Wilson.
    He was never treated, with playing time, like he was a valuable asset to the team. That is why he left. That is why we don’t have him for a backup now.
    Clarke was treated much the same way and saw the writing on wall. He was smart enough to get out sooner.
    Stoops doesn’t want a passing quarterback, and that is fine; but don’t recruit them and then expect them to stay, and then wonder what is wrong.
    Stoops wouldn’t start Alabama’s Tua or LSU’s Joe Burrow if he had them.
    They might score too quickly and cause his defense to wear out.

  2. The report that Stoops is down after the loss and that future recruits have lifted his spirits is pretty amazing and stretches credulity. That is some kool aid this kid won’t be drinking. Stoops has been ranting about the loss being hard to swallow, we were close on many plays, many good things to build on, and we need to get back to work. There has not been a lot said by Gran. I guess if you can’t contribute much during the game why make the attempt after.

  3. Very disappointed in the play calls Saturday. Fourth and three, and throw a bomb?? Way too many up the middle run plays. Tenn. made changes when they couldn’t run, but Kentucky kept on running the same plays. No one can win in the SEC without some passing to open up the run. Smith should have gotten a few plays at least. Very disappointed. Go Cats!!!

    1. UT had the UK running attack stopped before the first half ended if we are all honest. UK scored 13 quick points and then not nary another the rest of the way. Smith should have started the second half, and Gran should have opened up his offense with Bowden at WR, using all available WR’s and TE’s too. You win using a balanced attack. They had ridden the Bowden horse for as long as they could, so why not insert Smith, If nothing else but to keep UT honest. It might have backfired, but UK lost anyway with Stoops/Gran demonstrating a complete lack of confidence in a backup QB from Troy who had Florida on the ropes. Also, UK had two weeks to prepare for Tennessee. Stoops is not doing himself any favors this year. I love Bowden, he is a great athlete, but he ain’t the head coach. You should have made the change Coach. That is what they pay you to do.

    2. I agree with Larry & Gene. Sports are supposed to be entertainment and fun, not stressful and losing to teams you are favored to beat at home. Stoops is so afraid to lose, that it causes the loss. You have to know when to risk to win.

      Remember when Western Kentucky beat us in Nashville on a similar play. They went right and threw back across to a wide open receiver on the left who walked into the end zone for the victory. It caught everyone by surprise. Those are the type of chances that turn a 6-6 team into a 8-4 or better team.

      I love Stoops, But he needs to risk a little to go from a great coach to an elite coach. He is still learning on the job, and maybe one day the light will come on. When that happens his time at KY will be short, but we will have grown. We can then take the next step towards greatness either together or apart.

      1. A great coach? Have you been watching the same games most of us have? Stoops isn’t at risk of ever being called “elite”.

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