Stoops likes way Cats bounce back, also admits he thinks about what might have been this year

Sihiem King had two touchdowns at Vanderbilt. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Each time Kentucky has lost this season, it has won the next game.

“When asked how the team will respond after a tough loss or a blowout loss the answer is always the same because that’s what I believe. The leadership is here, there is great pride within this team and we’re going to go back to work and do the very best we can,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Monday. “It’s not for a lack of effort on anybody’s part, the wins and the losses, and I do like the way we responded this past week.”

Kentucky came off a disappointing, last-second loss to Ole Miss and rebounded by whipping Vanderbilt while playing its most complete game of the season. Of course, one can argue that UK should never have lost to Ole Miss — or Florida. If UK had won those game, it would be 9-1 going into Saturday’s game at Georgia and playing for the SEC East title.

“We as coaches never want to look back but don’t think for a minute that there isn’t a human side of me that asks ‘What if?’ I remember bad beats for 20 years, so I’ll never forget bad beats and you always try to learn and grow from them,” Stoops said.

“The only thing I can say to you is that I understand. I’m frustrated and disappointed in some ways as well. Again, it’s not for a lack of effort and we’ll continue to work to put ourselves in the position to win games, but that’s easier said than done.”

Nothing will be easy at Georgia. The Bulldogs had not lost this season until getting thumped at Auburn last week. That probably dashed any chance UK might have had of Georgia overlooking the Cats.

Stoops hopes the way his team played at Vanderbilt will give it added confidence against Georgia.

“But it’s about the preparation, it’s about the way we have gone about our work this past week and throughout the season. Our guys are tuned into that. They understand. They understand what it takes to play consistent football across the board in this league for 12 or 13weeks. It’s very difficult, but that’s what we’re striving for,” Stoops said.

“We did play a good game this past week and hopefully we will be confident and understand that it came with the preparation and the hard work we did last week.”

One other plus for UK — the Cats have won five of their last seven road games.

“Again coming off a loss we had their attention, but it is just about having that mentality and that mindset all week. You have to be strong, be tough to go on the road and win in the SEC,” Stoops said.

“We did talk about that all week but I think the confidence only comes from preparation. I kind of talk a lot about that, but everyone wants to win on Saturday, but what are we going to do all week to put yourself in a position to win?”

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