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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops didn’t mince words after his team lost 59-17 at Georgia Saturday night.
“It was a tough night all the way around. We were not good enough in any area, starting with myself and the assistant coaches. It was not acceptable, and we didn’t have a good enough effort or good enough preparation,” said Stoops. “You have to give credit to Georgia. They came in with an attitude and took it to us from the opening kickoff to the end of the game.”
“We were not competitive, and that has a lot to do with Georgia and that has a lot to do with us. We were not prepared for this game.”
No excuses, either.
What about not having his starting cornerbacks — Nate Willis (injured) and Cody Quinn (suspended)?
“I don’t think having them would have made much of a difference. I would hope we would have been more competitive and had some different packages. It hurt a little bit, but we were beat from start to finish,” Stoops said.
What lies ahead?
“I think there is no mystery that we need some changes. We are working through this, but it’s a tough night. No one likes to go through nights like this. We have been competitive and we have fought our way through games, but tonight is game that I am not real proud of,” Stoops said. “I told the team that. It starts with me and I didn’t do a good enough job tonight.”
Stoops suspended Quinn and defensive end Jason Hatcher Thursday for the Georgia game and also announced an indefinite suspension for receiver Demarco Robinson.
“We’ve got policies and procedures and team rules and if you don’t meet them, there’s going to be consequences, that’s it,” Stoops said.
He admitted he hopes the suspensions send a needed message to players about what changes are necessary in the program.
“After you’re here for a whole year, you get a sense for what’s going on in the program and where changes need to be made, and I’m coming up on a year and there are things we need to be better at,” Stoops said. “ “We’ll move forward. There’s no doubt in my mind, but there needs to be some changes, absolutely.
“It’s either right or wrong. It’s very simple with me. We’re going to have discipline in our program. I hope it sends a message, but I don’t do it just for the message. I do it because it’s right and wrong.”
Freshman JoJo Kemp said the message was easy to understand.
“He was just trying to set an example. He wants to keep pushing this program in the right direction, so he doesn’t want anything to bring us down,” Kemp said.
“We have rules and regulations and whatever happens with those, if you break the rules and regulations, things are going to happen. And that goes for any school in this country,” backup quarterback Maxwell Smith, who played after Jalen Whitlow was hurt, said. “ “I don’t think that was a distraction. I just think we got our butts kicked.”
Stoops also made it clear that despite rumors and Internet speculation that senior running back Raymond Sanders was never going to be kicked off the team. However, Sanders did not start and played only sparingly for what Stoops said was a disciplinary issue.
“It was never a situation where Raymond was going to be off the team. There were some things we were working through with Raymond. It cost him some practice time,” Stoops said.