After Kentucky’s heartbreaking overtime loss at Texas A&M, the Wildcats’ locker room was disappointed, but there was no panic.
“We just gotta go back to work,” said linebacker Kash Daniel. “We’re not blaming anybody. We win as a team. We lose as a team.
“That shows just how much this organization has grown because if it was previous years, we’d have finger-pointing and (there’d be) dudes in corners, but no. Coach Stoops addressed us as a team. We’re all going to get healthy this week because we got a lot of guys banged up, myself included. We’re all gonna get healthy and come back and finish the season strong. That I can promise you.”
Instead of playing the blame game, leaders did what leaders do. Josh Allen reached out to teammates all over the locker room to make sure they kept their heads up after the first loss of the season.
“We’re good. We’re gonna learn from our mistakes in this game; learn from it and go forward. I talked to all the guys in there afterwards individually, so I got everybody’s head right. We are mentally ready for the bye week and Vanderbilt. We’re just going to have to bounce back, play more physical and win games.”
For some fans, the sky might be falling, but it’s just one loss.
“It’s the first loss of the season, so it’s a tough loss,” Benny Snell said, “but I don’t see it any different than any other loss.”
Playing the blame game would be easy, especially for the defense. Kentucky did a better job slowing down Texas A&M’s offense than Clemson and Alabama. The Aggies were limited to just 20 points and 5.2 yards per play. The defense did their part, but the offense did not. Still, there’s no animosity between the two.
“The offense helps us out some games. We gotta help the offense out some games,” said Mike Edwards. “We just gotta play through it, no matter how long we’re out on the field, no matter what the offense is doing, we have to worry about our side of the ball. The defense has to play through it and make as many big plays as possible to get the ball back to the offense.”
Allen echoed that sentiment. “We know we just have to control ourselves. When we control ourselves, that’s when we play at our best. We made an emphasis this year of not pointing fingers…We only control ourselves. When big plays come, we gotta take advantage of those and go from there.”
Nobody made more big plays than Darius West. The Kentucky safety had 10 tackles, an interception and a game-tying scoop and score in the fourth quarter. West and the rest of Kentucky’s veterans will not let this team lose all of its early-season momentum during the bye week.
“It won’t, not at all. We got guys like Josh Allen and Kash Daniel,” West said. “We’re going to continue to do what we gotta do to be victorious.”
Kentucky had big enough guns to win at Kyle Field, but they could not execute when it mattered most. Rather than focus on the negatives, Mark Stoops’ coaching staff will search for what went right in the first five games.
“Our prep has been really good. Our guys have been working hard. We have good leadership on this team. We’re going to hit the reset button here and look at things we did successfully to get it to 5-1 and we’ll look at the things we need to improve and work on those things. I don’t anticipate any issues there with this team.”