By LARRY VAUGHT
Before Austin MacGinnis went out to try a potential game-winning, 47-yard field goal against Louisville Saturday, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops must have had a few words of wisdom for his kicker.
Instead, the coach said nothing to MacGinnis, who hit a game-winning field goal earlier this season against Mississippi State as time expired.
MacGinnis delivered again as UK won 41-38.
“I had great confidence in him, but honestly I was numb. To be honest. Just wanted to finish it off, too. You knew you were gonna have to go back out, whether he missed it – we were gonna have to go and play with a dynamic guy (Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson) like that. We were thinking about the kickoff and what we were gonna do and the seconds. There was a lot going through my mind and what the next step was gonna be,” Stoops said in his postgame press conference.
Stoops said he could not really put into words how he felt after UK held on for its seventh win of the season. After starting the year 0-2, UK went 7-3 to close the the season. The two previous years UK struggled to the finish.
“You know I’m a tough guy from Youngstown. I can’t show my emotions. No, it’s just really a lot of things going through your mind, and there’s so many people that these wins and losses affect. Our fan base has waited a long time and again, we know the ups and downs that we’ve gone through, but they deserve a football team that they’re proud of,” Stoops said.
“These players care. They work hard. Our administration has been so supportive. Dr. Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart, in the middle of 0-2 and playing like crap for half of the third game, didn’t budge for a second. I can truthfully say that, and when you feel that kind of support, you just put your head down and go to work and control the things you can control and get better. So it affects a lot of people. I’m really happy for everybody. Really am.”
Stoops didn’t even try to tell his players to quit celebrating after the win.
“It was hard for me to calm down them down and talk to them for a minute. I want them to enjoy it. They deserve it,” Stoops said.
Kentucky will learn its bowl destination on Dec. 4. He joked he had called Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher — Stoops was his defensive coordinator before coming to UK — for information on scheduling bowl practices.
“I was going to practice next week but I’m not going to. We’re gonna go the following week, whatever that Friday will be. But they will lift and they will run. And they have some academics that they have to get going through the next two weeks. Then we have a big recruiting weekend this weekend as well,” Stoops said.