Here is the opening statement that Kentucky coach Mark Stoops made Saturday after his team’s loss in Knoxville that dropped UK’s record to 5-5 with two games remaining.
“We didn’t play good enough to win. You have to give credit to Tennessee,” Stoops said. “They made plays, they were physical, they put us in a lot of space with their run game. Their dual-threat quarterback put a lot of pressure on us. They put a lot to the perimeter and made big plays — explosive runs. It’s hard to win when you do that.
“I thought our offense did the same. We had a lot of quality runs, obviously, when you rush for that many yards. The difference was in the red zone. They capped it off with touchdowns, we capped it off with some field goals. Again, in a close game when the defense is reeling and every point counts, and got it down there and had a turnover down deep, that puts us down as well.
“The bottom line is they played better than us. We did not play clean enough to win. We know that going into this game you’re going to be put under some pressure on the perimeter, and they finished off some big runs. I thought that was the difference. Give them credit. I think they’re a big, physical team and Dobbs is a real talent. He’s been around for a long time and really made some quality runs. Part of it, and again, I want to give them credit first. In particular, their team and their coaching staff, but also I think it gets down to some of it with us.
“The aggravating pieces is we have to do the things we’re capable of doing. It gets back to the things I touched on early in the year and some of that showed, reared it’s ugly head today as well with guys not executing their responsibilities at times. That’s where we have to grow and get better in all sides from when it’s offense, defense, special teams. When we have a play that’s there, we have to make them. They’re good enough.
“That’s a heck of a football team, and they’re coached really well and put a lot of stress on you. You know that going into it, but the plays that are there, we’re not making them. It’s difficult to win a game like that and that’s where we have to grow and take it to the next step.”