By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky didn’t win at Alabama Saturday, but it certainly fared better than it did in a road game at Florida three weeks early when it was thrashed.
“We go into a situation like that against the No. 1 team in the country and it’s extremely physical, extremely talented and very well coached. Our guys competed. I thought we did the right things, were in the right position, guys were executing for the most part,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “There was a drive or two that are not okay and we need to get some things fixed and play with greater urgency, but I thought overall we had guys in the right position, guys were straining to make plays.
“We weren’t just blowing assignment because bad things were happening. We got lined up and made them beat us. We didn’t beat ourselves. We got some stops and had some chances. Your margin for error is very slim and you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities. You’re not going to have a lot of opportunities.
“Even though offensively it doesn’t appear like we did very well in looking at the bottom line or statistics. You’re just fractions off. We had a screen play that was set (for a big gain) and they made an unbelievable individual play. We’ve got be a little more disciplined on our splits, get out on them quicker. It’s not like we were pushing them around or anything like that but we had some efficient yards. There were some really good things in there, things to build off of.”
Kentucky’s defense seems to have made significant improvement the last two weeks, something Stoops wants more of this week against Vanderbilt.
“We’re growing and getting better. It comes like that. You’d like to have five fifth-year seniors and five fourth-year guys playing but we have some inexperience that you have to figure out what they can do and execute. That’s all of us. That’s coaching, it’s not on them, but together we’re figuring it out and making some improvement and I think you’ll continue to see that,” Stoops said.
He says execution has helped the defense more than anything because of fewer mistakes that allows more blitzes and stunts.
“It still comes down to being tough, executing and playing with good technique because when you have plays designed and have people in place it needs to be 2nd-and-long instead of 2nd-and-2. You can’t just go out there and have guys in position and constantly not make the plays. I think our position on the football is getting better,” Stoops said.
“There are still some things on the perimeter that we need to get ironed out. A team like Alabama is physical inside, I was pleased with some things we did in the interior of our defense, but they got some things on the perimeter where they have some very big people blocking and running. We did make some adjustment that helped us on some of that.”