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Mark Stoops decided to ride with Lynn Bowden even though Sawyer Smith was available

Lynn Bowden (Vicky Graff Photo)


Once Tennessee adjusted its defense, Kentucky’s offense just could not make big third- or fourth-down conversions. Once Tennessee adjusted its offense, Kentucky’s defense could not shut down the passing of reserve quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (7-for-8 for 115 yards and two touchdowns) in the second half.

That’s why Kentucky lost 17-13 to Tennessee Saturday night after roaring out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and then staggering to the finish.

Once Tennessee found a way to neutralize the running of UK quarterback Lynn Bowden, the Cats never scored again — including the final drive when Bowden was stopped for no gain on a run from the Tennessee 2-yard line with a chance to win the game.

Kentucky never went to quarterback Sawyer Smith, the starter after Terry Wilson went down in game two and then got hurt himself. Smith is a better passer than Bowden, an elusive runner doing all he can at quarterback, but his only play was to run a third-down quarterback sneak in the first half.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Smith was “available” and why the coaches thought about using Smith, they decided they were “riding with Lynn” all the way and said it was hard to argue the last drive that got UK inside the 5-yard line with a chance to win the game.

“We are being very methodical right now and having to get tough yards. But with that you take that, whatever it was, five, six minute drive, and make them use up timeouts and you punch that in right there and you feel pretty good about your chances and predictable paths, so… ,” Stoops said.

“It’s hard to argue that last drive. We didn’t (score) and I get the frustration. You do that (score) and it is a lot different. I can’t second guess riding with Lynn and what he is doing. He puts a lot of stress on the defense.

“You don’t lose too many games when you rush for 300 yards. We just got stopped on too many critical plays.”

You think?

That’s why UK fans have a right to be frustrated that UK never gave Smith a chance. Bowden ran for 114 yards but threw for 25 yards. You don’t win in the SEC throwing for 25 yards.

Tennessee had 98 yards passing gin the first half but made the switch to Guarantano — who got some great catches from his receivers — to pick UK apart the second half after it made an obvious choice to go to the air.

“They knew they couldn’t run the ball against us and if they continued we were going to lose the game,” Kentucky defensive lineman Josh Paschal said. “They switched their game plan and started just airing it out.”

Paschal was just answering a question after the game. He was not second guessing Stoops or UK’s staff. But the “they switched their game plan” is something UK did not do on either side of the ball and it cost the Cats.

4th straight game under 305 yards, not done since 40 yards ago — We can’t put the blame just on the offense. We win as a team and lose as a team.

The Vols ended up with 296 yards — the fourth straight game UK has held an opponent under 305 yards. That’s the first time that has happened in over 40 years.

“We can’t put the blame just on the offense. We win as a team and lose as a team,” Paschal said.

True but an offense that can’t throw the ball and make a defense at least think it can is going to have trouble winning in the SEC.


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  1. With the history of these 2 teams and the way they have both been playing YTD, I would really love to know how many fans, and maybe even players, REALLY expected us to win that game. Stoops is now 1-7 vs UT. Our coaching staff cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. We must have had some creative thinking and planning at halftime because we came out playing not to lose just like we went in. Have you ever seen less inspirational coaches post game than Stoops/Gran? These 2 Duds need to be held to a higher level of accountability for their stubborness and brain cramps and inability to make in-game adjustments. We have no leaders on the field other than Bowden. UT had Petuli and the other LB that seemed to be in on every play. We had no one even close to that. It is hard to say how many players emotionally packing the season in, but we continue to find ways to snatch defeat from jaws of victory in exceptionally and embarrassing ways. It’s the coaches stupid!

  2. When coaches say things like, “Sawyer Smith is throwing the ball with as much zip as he has had since his injury.” What they are really saying is, he is getting stronger. If Sawyer Smith were back to full playing strength, the coach’s message would be different, the coaches would say, “Sawyer Smith is 100% and ready to play.”

    That is not what they are saying.

    Sawyer Smith, if 100% would be a better passer, and give this team a better chance to win.

    Since the coaches are not playing him, that is all I need to know to conclude that Sawyer Smith does not give this team the best chance to win, and that claim still belongs to Bowden, with all the limitations that imposes upon the team, and the coaches’ options.

    As for other players, when an observation about the players is there are no leaders on the field, save perhaps 1 player, and then the observation is made that UT had several leaders on the field, why isn’t that comparison on the players, primarily.

    Coach Stoops and his staff have proven that they can train players to be leaders and winners. Some players respond to that coaching. Some do not respond to the coaching. Some take longer before they respond to that coaching. That is on the players too.

    UK will beat Vandy, UT Martin, and should beat UL. 7-5 and bowling for a 4th consecutive year.

    These coaches are the best that UK has had in football since possibly Bear Bryant. I concede that Curci, Claiborne and Brooks should be in the conversation, but they did not do what this coach has accomplished.

    Are there better coaches out there? Of course there are better coaches out there. Maybe we should just pat Coach Stoops on the butt, and wish him well at Florida State, and go get one of them.

    Oh wait, just a week ago, many Big Blue Fans were fretting over the possibility that Coach Stoops would do just that.

    I am a huge Coach Stoops fan, and the problem that UK football has suffered under for too many decades is a revolving door for head coaches, running them off before they have the chance to transform the culture here. Coach Stoops is doing just that, but the transformation is a generational process, not an annual one.

  3. “Professor”?
    The coaching staff when I was there after Bear Bryant was:
    Blanton Collier who went on to be head coach for Cleveland Browns
    Don Shula who went on to be head coach for Miami
    Chuck Knox who went on to head coach LA Rams
    John North who went on to head coach New Orleans
    Leeman Bennett who went on to head coach Atlanta
    Homer Rice who went on to head coach Cincinnati Bengals
    We didn’t beat Tennessee so Kentucky fired this bunch and hire a Alabama assistant named Charlie Bradshaw who was a nice man off the field but a nightmare on the field. So “Professor” could you clarify yourself Or just change your “Professor” name
    Number 31 on the thin 30

  4. Oh I’m sorry I neglected to list Bill Arnsparger who was the head coach of the NY Giants.
    One of the wonderful things I got playing for playing those years was encephalomalacia of the frontal lobe of my brain from the trauma to my head when the new coached coached spearing until it was outlawed and one gets removed from the game if he spears.

  5. Mike your right, the money these coaches makes they not much of taken a gamble when the game is on the line. We set like a lame duck instead of keep going.

  6. Even if Lynn Bowden is our best chance to win, it really doesn’t matter who is back there when you run the same play 50 times a game. Eventually, a decent team will figure that out, pin their ears back, and put a stop to it.
    That is what happened last night.
    Since this will always be the case when you run the same play over and over, it is up to the coaches to find different wrinkles or make some changes to what they are doing. That is where this coaching staff falls short and has for some time.
    They usually fall very short of making “winning” adjustments on the offensive side of the ball; especially, on the fly during the game.

  7. If I recall, it was a 1st down inside the Tennessee 20 yard line, with UK driving. Then 2nd and goal from inside the 5. At that point, the big boys for UK have to rise up and knock people off the ball for capable UK RB’s like Smoke to get it in the end zone. Good football teams do just that. It didn’t happen. UT had the goal line stand, and I suppose wanted this game more than UK, and rose to the occasion. A team Georgia State embarrassed. It takes great effort to stop a team inside your 3 yard line. Give the ugly A$$ orange team credit. UT has wanted it more forever, it seems, in this ancient series. Same old story year in year out. I don’t know if Stoops is the man for the job or not. He just can’t seem to win the big ones. One thing I do know, when this game comes up again next year in Knoxville, I’m penciling in a Tennessee victory. Pruett has Stoops’ number. I hope Satterfield and the Cards don’t prevail a long those same lines in the years ahead, but I wouldn’t dismiss it. This has turned into a disappointing season for UK football. Not sure how it will end. I will leave it at that. Just being honest here folks. I hate Tennessee with a passion. Very disappointing loss.

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