On Kentucky’s final two offensive plays, Benny Snell received Wildcat snaps with 9 and 12 seconds remaining on the play clock. Ole Miss scored the game-winning touchdown with five seconds remaining, leaving many fans (and Drew Franklin) wondering if the early snaps made a difference. Mark Stoops does not believe it mattered.
“If there’s any one thing I’ll get critiqued for, it’s for milking it too much, not the other way. So let’s not even go there, you know what I mean? I’ve taken plenty of darts for slowing the game down, so I’ll continue to take the darts that way.”
Stoops’ response reads as combative, but it did not sound combative. He tried to bring some levity to the situation.
“I think there is a balance there though. We didn’t think about going into a four-minute offense with eight minutes to go in the game, but we were methodical in our approach. Sometimes that’s when we are at our best.”
When Kentucky started the final offensive drive on their own five-yard line, the goal was not to milk away the clock. The goal was to score. They just so happened to do both, thanks to Snell’s 67 rushing yards on the 95-yard scoring drive.
There’s also a train of thought that in the Wildcat formation, one strategy to keep the defense off balance is to snap the ball randomly instead of milking away the play clock to the very last second. Stoops said that was not the case on Saturday.
“We even considered getting a timeout for Benny to catch his breath.” Stoops said they didn’t need to randomly snap the football because he thought the Ole Miss defense was gassed and, “we felt like we had them off balance.”
Setting aside the early snaps on the final drive and the strategy behind it, at the end of the day, the game came down to making a defensive stop. The Cats were two plays away and an overturned fumble recovery from doing just that to end the game.
“We were killing some time, sure. I think that their approach would’ve been different if there was ten less seconds there too. So it’s easy to say after the fact that they would’ve had those ten, but that’s not necessarily the case. Their two-minute offense changes as well. They would’ve had plenty of time for a two-minute offense. We were going to have to make a stop. We were going to have to stop them.”
Kentucky did not get a final defensive stop, leaving Stoops opened to be criticized for time management.
“Believe me, there’s nobody that’s more conscientious of the clock than I am,” Stoops said. “Believe me, I’ll get criticized both ways, and I understand that, but I’m very conscious of it.”