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Going for two was the right call

Kentucky had a chance to take the lead or tie it up with 37 seconds left and Mark Stoops elected to go for two; it may not feel like it right now, but that was the right call.

With no Benny Snell and Stephen Johnson hanging on by a thread, the odds of Kentucky stopping Northwestern and being able to mount a game-winning drive in overtime seemed slim. With momentum behind them, Kentucky took a shot; unfortunately, it slipped right through Tavin Richardson’s hands.

“It’s difficult,” Stoops said when asked about the two-point attempt afterwards. “I’m good with it. If you ask me if I could do it again, of course I would. We had the correct option. We had the look that we wanted and we were fractions off.”

After falling hard on his AC joint and leaving the game in the second quarter, Stephen Johnson gritted his way through the rest of the game and got the ball close to Richards, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Regardless, Johnson says he’s “100%” behind the decision to go for it.

“Bowl games like this, if you’ve got momentum going into that last drive, you definitely go for it. Regular season is different but in this game, you go for it.”

On the radio, Charles Walker said the team has been practicing the two-point play for “at least this whole month if not the whole year” and if it were up to him, he would go for it “100 times out of 100 times.”

Eddie Gran told reporters that the team has actually been practicing three two-point attempt plays over the last month, and this one gave them the best shot.

“Yeah, we had three of them and that one gave us a lot of options,” Gran said. “We’ve been running all three of them for the last four weeks, so there was no hesitation whatsoever.”

“[Stoops] didn’t hesitate either,” Gran said. “He had already said before I’d run the quarterback run play, ‘If you score, get the two point conversion.'”

Sadly, football is a… wait for it…

“We got hung up. You can’t get hung up right there. It would have been an easier opportunity for the ball if you don’t get hung up, but it’s a game of inches. It was inches.”

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

74 responses to “Going for two was the right call”

  1. JoshEstep

    Shooters shoot baby! Loved the ballsy move however the outcome just sucks…

  2. Jiminy Crickets

    Agreed, it took kahunas. I liked it. A tie is weak

    1. Rixter

      A tie takes the game to overtime

  3. Peter Criss

    Nope, nope, nope. Sorry Mrs. T. I totally disagree. You don’t have to mount a drive. You get the ball at the 25 yard line automatically inFG range. Tie is not weak, a tie is smart. You play the percentages. They had not been moving the ball. Their TD came on a pick. I just don’t see it.

    1. ClutchCargo

      Wrong. It is absolutely the right call to go for it in that situation. Kicking the PAT there is playing not to lose.

    2. Miller45

      If they lost in overtime the same people that have whined for 2 years about the play calling being too conservative would be having a temper tantrum… Either way a loss is danged if you do danged if you don’t go for the conversion….

    3. Rixter

      Plus, kickers are huge in overtime. We have one of the best in NCAA, theirs is so bad, they were going for 4th and 10 in the red zone….

    4. wyatts1

      We got a great kicker, but I know we lost 1/2 of our offense and pretty much our identity when they screwed us and kicked Benny out of the game. Also not having one of our best defensive players due to suspension I think he made the correct call. Since we lost Benny if we did go field goal we would’ve eventually lost due to our inability to score the TD. Even Johnson was hurt towards the end especially so we HAD to end it there win or lose. I liked the call and I bet there’s gonna be some recruits who liked that call

    5. Solidtilt1

      Absolutely after a lot of thought the best call. We needed to finish it there and didn’t oh well.. We were shorthanded without one of the best running backs in college football.. fact is loserville lost and Kentucky is much improved in football and lookout we have special talent at qb next year loserville I’d say your days of winning on hardwood and on grass are over for several years

    6. willmenser

      Northwestern was 3-0 in games that went into OT this year and outscored opponents 35-14 in the Overtime period. They would’ve had plenty of time to run the ball (which they were destroying us at) and we would have been dismantled. It was the right call, rather than to kill our momentum by stopping for yet another period of play in an extremely long game. Plus the refs were wildcards.

    7. ClutchCargo

      Rixter, being able to score a touchdown is even more huge than kickers, and our offense was running on fumes.

  4. Catnation

    Didn’t like the decision but I understand it.

  5. binarysolo

    100% agree. BBN’s been whining all season about the conservative playcalling. You want a ballsy move? Go for 2 to win a freakin’ bowl game! Our guys didn’t get the 2 points but I 100% back Stoops on this call.

  6. Catlogic15

    If it was such a 100% no brainer decision, why didn’t we convert?

    1. Mathlete

      Because drops happen sometimes. Run that play 50 times and you probably drop 5 of them if you’re Kentucky. Our number didn’t come up, it’s unfortunate, but it’s not as if we were playing for a NC or anything

    2. Slateneverleft

      Drop? If you watch it was a wobbler that was high outside while the receiver was going down kinda. Bad timing

    3. callitlikeiseeit

      Richardson jumped too soon but was glad we went for it. They easily would have run for 25 yards, we gave up over 300 yards rushing. However we gave the game away despite the bad calls, and remember they had a guy thrown out on a bad call to. Dropped passes, bad passes, the one INT was thrown way behind the WR who fell trying to stop to catch it behind him. The 15 yard penalty when SJ was hit late and hurt, we were lining up for a FG and that knocked us out of range. Too many other 15 yarders extended their drives or killed ours.

  7. Blue Bill

    Loved the decision to go for it!! We’ve complained all year that we were too conservative and played not to lose!! Tonight we played to WIN, just didn’t work out.

  8. Miller45

    We had the momentum, and made a couple big stops, but Nw run game was doing more and more damage…

  9. D-Rob

    WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! Boneheaded decision decision by Stoops. If they make the PAT and it goes to OT, momentum is on UK’s side. In spite of how dominant the defense was in the 2nd half, Stoops sent the message that he does not trust them in crunch time.

    This fact that fans are okay with Stoops blowing the game is further proof of why Kentucky football will forever be a joke.

    1. cats646

      That’s why he’s getting payed millions to coach and your not. You wouldn’t have won one game this year D-rob. That was a gutsy but right call. He was doing it for the seniors. I bet every single one of the seniors said lets go for it. They wanted to get the big win and they fell short. That’s football. Your a joke

    2. ClutchCargo

      D-Rob, not going for 2 in that situation in a bowl game shows a lack of courage. It was the right call.

    3. wyatts1

      Our #1 and 2 option for offense was gone, our Johnson was limping and hurt half the game, defensively we played to our top potential even though we was short-handed due to a suspension, and they had the what… #8 rusher in NCAA history or something crazy. So it’s obvious to almost everyone, GO FOR IT, we was drastically short handed and hurt, while they wasn’t. Forget momentum, we was short handed and almost stole it dispite the refs trying to cover the spread alone with their BS officiating.

  10. Lip Man 1

    “It’s a game of inches. It was inches.”–Eddie Gran.

    Gran really was talking about the last 50+ years of this football program.

  11. DennyC

    Moral Victories are nice. Congrats! smh . . .

    1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Like your moral victory on the hardwood? SMH. 😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣

    2. cats646

      Really DennyC? Probably not the best day for you to be on big bros site after your little tweety birds got destroyed😂😂😂. Louisville athletics. Smh

    3. ClutchCargo

      Suck it, dennyc. And enjoy the next year or more of twisting in the wind while waiting for that ass whooping at the hands of the NCAA. Man, it’s going to be a long hard climb to try to get back.

  12. Blue Raider

    I’m sick and tired of you candy asses whining about how our coach is calling the game. Our team has improved ever season since he took charge. Yes I agree with the call to go for the 2. The referees in this game sucked. The calls they made hurt both teams. If you don’t like the direction this team is going then quit supporting the team. We don’t need you.

    1. Alleykat16

      BLue Raider I totally agree with what your saying Preach brother I’m listening to every word GO BIG BLUE FOREVER !

  13. steve simpson

    D-Rob you are a joke. Go for the win!!!!! Can’t wait for next year.

  14. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    I’m with Stoops on this one. I would have liked to have seen Bowden involved, but he was right to go for it IMHO.

  15. kydrummer

    We were 9 point underdogs, 20 points per Phil Steele, we lose our running back on a bogus call our QB is banged up and we still had a chance to win, I’ll take that all day. I would have kicked the PAT but proud of this team and the direction of the program. Now Stoops, bring Ed Reed on board please!

    1. cats646

      ^^ I’m with you on Ed Reed

  16. BTownUKFan

    It was the right decision. I thought even before the touchdown that they would go for two. It’s an exhibition game, as Freddie Maggard said..9 out of 10 coaches would have done the same thing. With no running game and Stephen banged up we needed to go for it.

  17. cats646

    it was the right call. But in all fairness, if the refs hadn’t literally been wearing northwestern jerseys we probably would’ve been up by at least 2 touchdowns. We were by far the better team with Benny and just as good if not better than them without him on the field.

  18. TBW3011

    Didn’t like the play, but totally on board going for for 2.

    1. cats646

      I actually liked the play. We threw to our taller guy who was on a mismatch. I do however think that Richardson should’ve cut back to the right instead of the left. It was an option and he would’ve been more open that way

  19. don.w

    Bad call!!! Northwestern gave Stoops two chances to change his mind and kick the extra point kick.

    I was at the game. Momentum has in our favor, the defense was playing stronger with each play. Doesn’t make sense. . . Make smart plays. We had NW on the ropes. All we needed to do was take it to overtime. Each time NW called timeout, I kept hoping Stoops would change his mind.

    The players played their behinds off only to have the coaches take it away with a bad call. After coming back from turnovers and questionable refereeing. . . to lose like this is disheartening. I agree with what another fan said afterward “Even if we had scored, it was still a bad call.”

    I’ve been a Stoops fan until this point. No more. . .

    1. cats646

      Your an ifiot

    2. Humdittydiddycatsbyfiddy

      We needed to take advantage of the momentum right then and go for 2 instead of play to lose in overtime. SJ was out multiple times throughout the game for injuries and despite that he still led us on that last drive. By extending the game you give the momentum to them because of this and Northwestern’s record in OT was pretty good this year. With Benny out and their running back tearing our defense up playing for OT in that situation kills your momentum and is playing not to lose. Definitely not a bad call and props to Stoops for going for it.

  20. cats646


    1. cats646

      Smh😔 *idiot. I’m at tin roof so you can’t blame me for misspelled words. Blame Jim beam.

    2. BluKudzu

      A self professed drunk, who can’t spell, calling someone an ifiot, idot, idiot, because they just happen to have a different opinion.
      Adds a lot of weight to your expertise, and opinion.
      Go to bed loser, season’s over.
      Our brilliant coach took a 10 win season and coached it down to 7.
      You certainly added credence to the rest of the Stoops supporters.
      Play to your strengths. We did not. We lost.
      Proud of the players. Loved SJ at QB. I do not think it wise to go to the weakest part of his game to win a bowl, when we have the best kicker in the history of UK football on the sidelines.
      But hey, just my opinion, drunk guy, so I suppose that makes everyone who thinks rationally an ifiot, Idot, or Idiot.

    3. cats646

      😂😂. Right. You ifiot

    4. don.w


      My grandmother used to tell me that alcohol brings out the true you.

      Going for two is the play call you would expect from someone who is impaired.

    5. cats646

      Also if you have balls and want to take a risk and go for the win and make your qb a legend at uk.

    6. don.w

      Also takes balls to:
      – swim with sharks when you have an open wound
      – jump out of a plane without having checked your equipment
      – time the tide and dive off a 50 ft cliff
      – eat unrefrigerated meat
      – hike in heavily populated grizzly country with just a walking stick
      – invite a former girlfriend to dinner with your wife

      Ballsy moves all. . . not sure they are very smart.

  21. Miller45

    If the 2 was good the ones blasting the call would be saying it was a genious and heroic play

    1. makeitstop

      We would be elated and call it the Xmas Miracle of 2017 but that’s not the point. The question is “good shot or bad shot” and it’s not a good shot just beacuse you make it or a bad shot just bc u miss it. This was not a smart shot once the 2 timeouts were called, if it ever was. Wish it had worked, but not a smart, high percentage call. Neither was the moronic call to go for it on 4th down that put us in position to have this choice! If NU loses, that call gets this scrutiny bc man was that dumb.

  22. BluKudzu

    This game, you play to your strengths.
    Our Strength is a QB that is mobile, and a kicker that is the best in the history at UK.
    On a play, against a defense without their leading tackler, we go for two, to win a bowl, by passing the ball, which we had not done all season, by a QB that is not a great passer.
    OK. I get it. Go for the win. But do so, USING YOUR STRENGTHS.
    Kick the extra point, play for a stop, win using the leg of the best kicker we have ever had.
    That call rates right up there with the non cover two….. after a timeout.
    10 win season, coached down to 7.
    Just my opinion.
    Proud of the players. They fought hard. I do look forward to next year.
    Being paid millions to learn on the job, at least, or at least I hope, Stoops learned another lesson in coaching tonight, use momentum, and play to your strengths.
    We did not, and we lost.

  23. makeitstop

    Really Eddie Gran, they’ve practiced it all month? Without Bennie? I doubt that. Stoops doesn’t think on his feet. With 3 timeouts and 27 seconds, maybe u worry NU has time to get into FG range if u tie it, not much, and they’d need to basically make the 25 but we can see it happening. But once that idiot burned 2 timeouts looking at our formation that equation changes. Now, little chance they score with that field goal kicker and a back up QB – they can’t run it even once in that situation, so we’re in OT. More often than not, kickers win overtime. Who on this blog does not think if it comes to field goals we win? That is the smart, analytical choice that he gets paid to make. 2 timeouts burned clearly changes the calculation. They’re clearly ready for our play and they can’t score after the kickoff. Adapt to the changed circumstance if u want to win in the SEC.

    1. cats646

      Northwestern won 3 OT games in a row this season.

    2. makeitstop

      Cats646 that’s a great point and I didn’t seen any of those games. I know 2 of the 3 Thorson carried them to with his arm, and he was out; and none of them involved a FG. Iowa couldn’t score, Michigan State scored easily through the air, once in 2 plays until the last OT they got picked. But they had experience with OT games and that should factor in our decision. I don’t credit the “exhibition game so why not theory” others suggest, (when did that even start? Bowl games were big deals and now they’re just an excuse to practice more?) I’m old fashioned. I agree w Nick Saban “it’s never ok to lose football games.” So I think I try to win and 8-5 and 7-6 are (obviously) measurably different. So, to me, the best argument is “they were 3-0 in OT and we weren’t. I just thought after 2 TO’s changed NU likelihood of scoring I’d put in on Mac’s foot and like my chances better. I got no problem rolling dice. Gutsy. But I want to see them think and analyze game situations more like the big boys do. If it gets us a couple more wins a year great. Emotion seldom does.

    3. don.w

      NW wins three OT games this season. They just saw their coach make a bonehead decision to go for it on fourth down and their offense got stuffed, by a Kentucky defense that seemed to be getting stronger, at their 40 yard line. Kentucky took that bad decision and made them pay with a touchdown. Their defense scored more than their offense in the second half. Second string quarterback at the helm.

      I’ll bet NW fans were thinking their OT good luck was about to run out. Only to have Stoops make an equally boneheaded decision to go for two. Both coaches made the riskier calls and both coaches lost. What does that tell you. . . make the plays that give you the highest percentage chance of success.

      For those of you who keep saying we wouldn’t be complaining if the play had worked. . . you’re probably right. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. Wouldn’t want to rely on a blind squirrel though.

  24. mcp157

    Great call to go for two by Stoops. He gained respect from me for that calll.

  25. notFromhere

    It was the right call. Good to see it. “Hung up” means held, interfered with, in case any basketball fans are wondering.

    I’d have run the run pass option that play, but the call they made should have worked or drawn a flag. With “baby alive” on this crew, the ref-doll that cries real tears, we werent going to get a call if the defender completely pantsed Richardson.

  26. shelby

    We tie the game and lose in OT, 95% of the ppl bashing the decision to go for two would be complaining that we didn’t go for two. We lost because benny got screwed and SJ threw two picks, one that they took to the house for six. Had a chance to win in the end and went for it. Showed a lot of improvement since end of season.

    1. don.w

      RPO with WHAT!!! Who would you have given the ball?

    2. don.w

      Doubt it. Not sure the two point conversion would be much of a talking point had we lost the game in OT.

      Tying the game was the prudent thing to do given the circumstances.

      Going for two was like saying “Let’s throw a Hail Mary.” when you don’t need to.

      Going for two in that situation was Iike running a red light in high traffic hoping your timing is just right even though your driver is impaired (injured) and you’ve lost your rear wheel.

    3. cats646

      Coaches all over the nation go for the win all of the time. It’s called being aggressive. Something that until this year, Kentucky football has struggled with. If this would’ve been a must win game to make it to the championship or something then I could see kicking it. But it was a bowl game against a team that everyone in the nation thought was better than us. Go for it all. I bet Stoops gained a lot of respect for that call and if Richardson would’ve caught it( which he should’ve) you would be singing stoops praises.

    4. don.w


      I would love to see you support your latest claim with some actual evidence. Maybe you mean volunteer youth coaches or maybe middle school coaches. Let’s give you the benefit and see if you can list each game this season when a FBS coach went for two rather than the tie. Also, please tell me how many of them successfullly converted and won the game.

      BTW, what does “All the time” mean? Does it mean every single time they are down by one with a chance to send the game into overtime with a PAT?

      According to Wikipedia, there are 130 FBS teams. If each plays a 12 game season, then there were 1,560 games played this season. Let’s assume that coaches had an opportunity to win the game with a 2 point conversion in one-half of 1% of them (7 games).

      I dont know how many times out of the 1,560 games a coach had this choice to make, but I would be very surprised if you could name the teams in seven games this season where all seven coaches went for two to win the game.

      Do you have the balls to do the research to support your claim?

  27. Alleykat16

    Love the call if it is in a season game kick the PAT and go for,it in overtime in a bowl game go for the win that’s college football 101 every coach in the nation would do the same I do believe GO BIG BLUE can’t wait till next season probably won’t be as good team as we have had in last 2 years but what the heck they will be Wildcats and I’m a Wildcat fan

    1. cats646

      They’ll be better

  28. catsby90.1

    Hell yea it was a good decision! I’ve criticized the coaching all year, but I’m proud of the call last night. Wasn’t very fond of the play. Would have liked to seen RPO instead.

    1. don.w

      RPO with WHAT!!! Who would you have given the ball?

    2. catsby90.1

      Yea it hurts with Benny out but king or rose. Probably just would have been a decoy but I would have given Johnson the option to pass or run on a rollout.

    3. don.w

      King or Rose? Perhaps I missed it, but at what point in the game were they productive? We needed a downhill runner. . . that NW respected.

      You are questioning the play called and I am questioning the decision to go for two. Unfortunately, both reflect on the coaching.

      Perhaps I should have a different perspective. Let’s just hope the better recruits like risky calls. On the bright side, we have the refs to blame the loss on, right?

    4. catsby90.1

      Don.w that’s why I said they would probably just be a decoy. You still have to account for them if you’re the defense even if they hadn’t been productive. I just wanted the ball in Johnson’s hands to make something happen, which it kind of was I guess.

      I’ve questioned the coaching all year so trust me I understand lol. The way I look at it wasn’t a huge bowl game so might as well go big or go home. Perhaps I was being too careless about the situation. I agree, I hope the recruits like the risk too haha.

    5. don.w

      Thanks catsby90.1. I appreciate your reflections.

  29. beansnbeer2017

    Another year of mediocracy in the books. Stop drinking the kool-aid you turds. Stop accepting the loser mentality of well we are Kentucky uhhhh heee. Going to the shieeter bowl is not a success. We can’t do better than Northwestern? Let’s start by reserving the word “Yahtzee” for a five star recruit instead of a three. I hate Louisville. Thought I’d get that out too since anyone with a dissenting opinion is assumed to be a UL fan.

    1. don.w

      I love it. . . someone whose user name includes beans and beer is calling someone a turd. lol. . .

      Go Cats!

  30. Jazz1124

    Good call by stoops. It was a miracle we stayed in the game after the first half we had to go through. I’m still trying to figure out how Snell got thrown out though.

  31. don.w

    Did anyone see the Georgia Oklahoma game tonight?

    Georgia had the opportunity to win it on a 2-point conversion with a minute to go in regular time, but decided to kick the PAT and send it to overtime. Georgia coach has no balls.

    I bet the Georgia fans would really be PO’d had they lost it in OT.

    Cars686, I guess that disproves your comment that coaches go for two all the time. . .