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.”