By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky players, coaches and have to be disappointed with Saturday’s 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. But don’t be disappointed in this 7-6 season that included four Southeastern Conference wins, a win over Louisville and the team’s first bowl bid in six years.
Just look at what my long-time friend and colleague Darrell Bird posted on Twitter before the game. “Win, lose or draw today what Stoops, his staff and these kids have done this season is remarkable and to be celebrated,” Bird posted on Twitter.
He’s right, too.
Even with Boom Williams planning to declare for the NFL draft, UK will return 35 of its 44 players on the two-deep depth chart.
“That’s good for us and our future and we’re excited about it,” coach Mark Stoops said.
Lexington Herald-Leader UK beat writer Jen Smith noted that UK will return 77.6 percent of tackles back, 83.1 percent of tackles for loss and 97.6 percent of its sacks.
Stoops was not happy with the officiating at times — he punched an equipment box and kicked the officials’ door at halftime — but he said Georgia Tech deserved to win.
He also has the right attitude going forward.
“I can’t let one game get myself or my team down,” the coach said.
He’s right, too.
FCA director Aaron Hogue tweeted this after the game: “What a great year! It’s been an honor & privilege to serve the men of the 2016 UK Football Team. Look forward to great things ahead!”
Stoops said UK can play “with anybody we line up with” now, something he could not say four years ago.
“If you think it’s easy to build a program in this conference, you don’t know a lot about football. We’ve come a long way,” he said.
And that’s what UK fans need to remember.