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How did Stoops handle State’s fumble return for score, Johnson’s ineffective first half

Mark Stoops and Stephen Johnson hug after Saturday's win. (Chet White/UK Athletics Photo)

Mark Stoops and Stephen Johnson hug after Saturday’s win. (Chet White/UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After Kentucky’s dramatic win over Mississippi State Saturday night, I wanted to know two things from coach Mark Stoops.

First, what did he say to his team after Stephen Johnson’s fumble was returned for a score when it looked like UK was ready to score and take a 41-24 lead instead of having the margin trimmed to 34-31 early in the fourth period.

“Well, you have to bounce back. You have to. And that’s what we’ve been practicing and working on and they have done that. And we went right back and put a really good drive together. And I knew we had them on the field for a long time,” Stoops said.

“So the one bad thing about a scoop-and-score for a defense is you have to go right back out there and, sure enough, they get the big momentum boost and they go right back out there, but our offense drove it down. We only got the three, but it was a big drive,” Stoops said.

Next what did he say to quarterback Stephen Johnson at halftime after his horrendous first half throwing the football that had many, including me, believing that it was time to give true freshman Gunnar Hoak a chance to play quarterback.

“We told the whole group to just go back to executing and play with poise, get the opening kickoff and go score. And we felt like we did not play very good in the first half. We were playing fantastic defense for awhile, but then we got the short fields and the change of possession, I would like to see us do better on that change of possession but two short fields and we are really playing — I don’t think they had a first down for a long time,” Stoops said.

“But we knew with the mistakes that we made with the special teams and with the fumble, and you’re down one possession and didn’t play very good, and certainly not very well on offense; but again, we were moving it. Everybody throws the stats in my face when we lose, but we did have a bunch of yards and were controlling the game and that does pay off sometimes, late, and hopefully it did here.”

5 comments

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  1. Norman Einstein

    The Cats did what they needed to win. We have been on the short side of that equation so many times. Seeing that shoe on the other foot indicates serious growth for this team. This looks more and more like the 06 season… I do believe we are turning the corner.

    GO CATS !!!!!

  2. kbrown

    Great win for the Cats. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a photo of Johnson carrying a football to classes this week. I can’t remember seeing a UK player fumble as much as he does. What a shame, too. He brings a lot of positives to the UK offense, but if he keeps fumbling in every game he’s going to lose his job at some point. If the Cats can stop turning the ball over so much, they should have a shot at winning at least one of their next two games and going to a bowl. They’ve come a long way since the Florida game.

    1. Andy

      Andre Woodson had the same issue and had a bad case of the fumbles but he cleared that up. That can be rectified. He has to learn to tuck the ball better when doing the run option plays. My suggestion would be for the coaches to give it to Benny when your on the 5 yard line. He is a hiss. Let him bull his way through.

  3. Juan4UK

    This team is gaining traction. #Stoops is got em diggin in and now we are going to start to see a real program be built. I’m really happy for these guys and I hope the fans will abandon all the negativity. Because if the fans can buy iin right now,, the recruiting will pay the biggest dividends. And its all about depth moving forward.
    Come on Cat fans!!!!

  4. Larry Pup

    Great win for the Cats, and I said so afterwards. That said, if that kick had been wide right we would all be singing the blues about now. UK came very close to blowing that game after getting the game under control. They dug deep and found a way to pull it out, good for them. The completion to the MSU 34 yard line was just as important as that 51 yard kick. UK still has to get bowl eligible. They must take care of business against Mizzou Sat on the road. then AP. When they do that I will agree they are gaining traction. Then if they upset UGA, UT or Louisville along the way, I will be back on the Stoops train. He has to beat 5 wins in 2016 bottom line. The Southern Miss loss looms huge about now.

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