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September 22nd, 2018

TRANSCRIPT: Mark Stoops after the Mississippi State win

MARK STOOPS: Like to start just by saying what a special night on all fronts, truly a great night. I want to start by thanking the Big Blue Nation. That is what I’m talking about when I say it takes all of us. They made a difference, the fans made a difference, the students made a difference. Greatly appreciate the support. The team — I told you all along that I love this team, because of the way they prepare and go about their business. We talked all week, it was going to start again in the trenches, physical, the more physical team was going to win. We talked all week about winning your one-on-one matchups wherever they were going to be. And then situational football, two minute drives, third down, red zone, critical series. And that’s what we did. Arguably one of the most complete games since I’ve been here in just appreciating the team’s approach. And there’s nothing cocky about this team, but they absolutely expected to play like this and that’s the way they prepared and that’s the way they’re going about their business and that’s what I love about this team. The last thing I would like to say is, I’m glad we played good for Marco and the Shemwell family. We’re going to bring this game ball to them tomorrow for Marco and the Shemwell family and I’m so glad that we played well in honor of him and that family.

Q. I asked you Thursday if this was a chance to disprove all that talk in the off-season and you did that tonight. What did you think of that performance tonight?
MARK STOOPS: Without a doubt they played a very good football game. I didn’t really have time to even look at all the total yardage and all that, all I know is we played good.


So I really appreciate the effort, I thought Coach House and the defensive coaches and of course Coach Gran and the offensive coaches, the coaches have done great job of preparing this team and the players just believe in each other and play hard and they have got a competitive edge about them and really executed and played very good. I’ll be honest with you, we weren’t, we were not overly complex tonight on defense, we had a great plan, but it was simple. They played, our players played and they made it good and played exceptionally hard and executed and did some really good things.

Q. You said earlier this week you would have to play with a lot of numbers against their rushing attack. It didn’t feel like you needed to with Josh, how good was he tonight.
MARK STOOPS: He is a dominant football player. From watching the sideline, for me, I agree with you. I was making sure we were being able to rush him as much we could because it seemed like he was unstoppable. But he did a really good job in coverage and he was so big and long he was disruptive in the pass game as well. He’s a dynamic player and he was very hard to block tonight. He’s a great football player. The great thing about him is he is so happy for the team. It’s not — he’s going to get his and he’s doing what he has to do, but it’s about the team and having success and that’s the way all these guys are.

Q. Talk about Benny.
MARK STOOPS: He was amazing as well. What did he have? I don’t even know.

Q. Four touchdowns.
MARK STOOPS: Oh, that’s it?


No, he just, he’s Benny. He really is. He’ll be the first one to credit the physicality of the offensive line but he has a determination about him and a toughness and vision. And he’s Benny. He’s done — he doesn’t surprise me because once again he’s a dominant football player and he deserves the credit that he gets as well. I’m sorry, I cut somebody off back here.

Q. How much do you love when opposing teams come out and say Benny can’t run on them?
MARK STOOPS: We shouldn’t need that motivation, but Benny, he’ll use anything to motivate him. And that’s a good thing. He’s always ready, that’s the beautiful thing about Benny, he may get a little fired up — and he’s fun for you guys because he might get talking little bit, but that’s okay, y’all need to get some sound bites as well, I realize that. But that’s just Benny. He’s going to play hard no matter what. He really is. I think his high school coach or whoever said that best, he would run over his mother and that’s probably true, whoever gets in front of him he’s going to run hard.

Q. Talk about the secondary with the redshirt freshman.
MARK STOOPS: It was a big play. Davonte Robinson got quality snaps tonight as well and Ty’s (Tyrell Ajian) interception was big. He’s played — that’s him. He has really good ball skills and so it was really good for him to get significant action and make a critical play for us.

Q. Did Jordan Griffin play today?

Q. Do you expect him back?

Q. Talk about that catch by C.J. Conrad.
MARK STOOPS: Great catch. Great play. Critical moment in the game and it was really nice to see him go up in traffic in a competitive situation and come down with the ball.

Q. Nick Fitzgerald was limited in the second half, I think he had about 145 yards in the first half between throwing and running, what was the key there, outside of maybe Josh disrupting him and keeping him in the pocket or whatnot?
MARK STOOPS: It was great team defense. We really did a nice job — like I said, we weren’t overly complex but we had some good things for him and our players did a nice job of disguising and were really on point with them looking and changing and they want to know what you’re in a lot and our players really did a nice job of having confidence in their disguises and when to come down and when to get movements and then it comes down to just tackling and covering and — but Coach House had a good plan and the guys executed and played exceptionally hard. When we had them in predictable pass — again that’s where the fans make a big difference — that’s, you know, again, I just greatly appreciate it, but we need it like that. That’s what we do. That’s what we play in the SEC, that’s the environment we’re supposed to play in. And it makes a difference. Because when they’re loud and the offensive line can’t hear the snap count like that, it’s very hard to block Josh. And that’s where it makes a difference.

Q. You had another one of those situations late in the second right before the half where you guys were able to go up and did you think about last time at Mississippi State where that was sort of you said that was the turning point last season?
MARK STOOPS: Well, what about three minutes left? When we had to punt? Or when we scored? Yeah. But we had two situations there. We did punt on the one, but then I thought it was huge that our defense — I believe we got a three and out — but we got it back pretty quick there and then we went down and scored, if I’m not mistaken. But, yeah, that’s huge, it’s a big big deal. I would have rather done it with three minutes left, but it was good to still get it done.

Q. In the process of doing this thing over time what was it like tonight just watching your guys dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against maybe the one of more physical teams in the SEC this year?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, without a doubt they are one of the more physical teams and I think that says a lot about our team and again our coaching staff and Corey Edmond and Coach Mark Hill and our strength staff and D-Mac (Deonte Mack)and Jon (Hall) and those guys, they work hard and they worked hard for years. That’s what we’re going to keep on doing. It’s a credit for our players for buying in and doing the dirty work when nobody’s watching and over time. That was one of my messages on Monday. I don’t like getting into all these messages that I tell you about with the team or whatever, but I talked a lot about Monday and about some other things about you reap what you sew and sooner or later you’re going to get paid and you’re going to benefit from that. And you don’t know when. It’s later, then you don’t know when that time is, but you got to keep on working and keep on doing it and eventually you’re going to get paid many times over. So our team is working very hard and in a lot of ways when people don’t see it.


WATCH: Highlight reel from Kentucky-Mississippi State

I assume you watched the game, but why not relive all of the fun in this highlight video recap from Kentucky Wildcats TV? It’s three minutes of Kentucky beating Mississippi State’s brains in. Why wouldn’t you watch it?

Benny Snell scores one more time on Twitter

Running for four touchdowns wasn’t enough for Benny Snell. He had to get one more score in on the Bulldogs before calling it a night.

Look at what he put on Twitter after the game.

One day they’ll learn to stay quiet.

Five Takeaways From The Cats’ Big Win

As we piece together our crashed website and pray that our new sports bar is still standing by the end of the night, allow me to jot down some instant takeaways from the ENORMOUS win we just witnessed in Kroger Field. I’m still shaking from the excitement, so please excuse me if these aren’t the most coherent thoughts you’ve ever read. UK just beat Mississippi State!


Benny Snell is a monster.

Words can’t describe what Benny Snell just did to a very good defense, one that includes a projected top-five NFL draft pick at defensive tackle and another projected first-rounder next to him at defensive end. Snell carved up the Mississippi State defenders for 165 yards and four touchdowns on the evening after a week of back and forth trash talk that put a target on his back. But unlike his counterpart across the way, Snell backed his talk up on the ground. When he tweeted, “You a clown over the internet, I show up in real life,” he did just that and carried his team to a lopsided victory.

With Snell’s four-TD game, he now holds the record for most touchdowns in school history. He matched Randall Cobb’s record of 37 career touchdowns, then passed it, then extended his lead as he put the game away.

The Heisman whispers behind Snell are now Heisman roars after what he did to a top-15 defense. The man simply cannot be stopped.

Josh Allen, also a monster.

It’s easy to sing Benny Snell’s praises after he scored all of the points for Kentucky, but Josh Allen was equally impressive for the Wildcats on the other side of the ball and he too deserves a ton of recognition.

Allen was credited for six tackles (two for a loss), a sack, a pass breakup and a hurry. He lived in the Mississippi State backfield and there wasn’t anything Nick Fitzgerald’s offensive line could do to keep him from applying pressure all night long. He was especially dominant in the second half and was a major weapon in holding State scoreless after halftime, often times going untouched on the pass rush. And with a national audience watching on ESPN2, Allen proved he is one of the best defensive players in the country, while driving up his NFL stock for next spring. He made himself a lot of money in this one.

I actually sat next to a young woman from Sports Illustrated who is only in town for a story on Allen. It’s safe to say it was worth the trip.

Kentucky’s defense is legit good.

My UK football knowledge doesn’t go way, way back; but it goes far enough back to know it has been a long time since there has been a defense of this caliber. It has star power and depth to back it up, and it held Mississippi State to one singular touchdown in the entire game Saturday night. (Fun fact: State averaged 50 points per game in the three weeks prior to meeting the Cats.)

The Bulldogs’ rushing attack was limited to only 56 yards (LOL) and the offense as a whole put up only 201 yards as a group. Mark Stoops was even surprised by the numbers. When he looked at the box score during his postgame press conference, he said, “We held them to 201, is that right?”

Yep, Mark; that’s right. Your defense is GOOD.

The national media will have to respect them now.

When Kentucky beat Florida, it was because Florida isn’t good, we were told. When it came time to pick the winner of this one, everyone (EVERYONE) said Mississippi State would get the win. Kentucky had not yet earned the respect of anyone outside of the Bluegrass. Until now.

Now, they have to respect Kentucky. The Cats have two wins against ranked teams and they covered the Las Vegas spread by 26 points in one and 32 points in the other. Come Monday they’ll be ranked for the first time in a decade and nobody can continue to ignore what’s happening in Lexington.

It’s OK to start thinking the unthinkable thoughts right now.

When your team is in the SEC, you need to take it one game at a time. But at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore the possibilities ahead. So feel free to dream a little bit tonight because Kentucky is 4-0 and 2-0 in the conference for the first time since the 70s. Yeah, there are tough games ahead in South Carolina and Texas A&M, but who’s to say they can’t win those too? Even if they go 1-1 over the next two weeks, that’s a 5-1 record at the turn with a very favorable back end of the schedule.

Dream away, Big Blue Nation. Dream away. This team is for real.

Stoops thanks BBN for “a special night on all fronts”

It took a while for Mark Stoops to make it to the media room after his team’s 28-7 win over Mississippi State, and can you blame him? His team just knocked off a Top 15 opponent to move to 4-0, the program’s best start since 2008. As anyone who was in the stadium or watching on television can attest, it was a huge night for the program, and Stoops started by thanking the fans for the incredible atmosphere.

“Like to start by saying what a special night on all fronts. Truly a great night. I want to start by thanking the BBN. That is what I’m talking about when I say it takes all of us. They made a difference. The fans made a difference. The students made a difference. Greatly appreciate the support.”

Stoops once again credited his team for a week of focused preparation, which resulted in a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. Mississippi State came into the game as one of the top five rushing offenses in the country, averaging over 300 yards per game, but Kentucky held them to only 56 yards, just one eye-brow raising stat from a very impressive performance.

“Arguably one of the most complete games since I’ve been here,” Stoops said. “I just appreciate this team’s approach. There’s nothing cocky about this team, but they absolutely expected to play like this, and that’s the way they prepared, that’s the way they went about their business, and that’s what I love about this team.”

It was an emotionally charged night. Before the national anthem, UK held a moment of silence for Marco Shemwell, the four-year-old boy who was struck by a car outside Kroger Field a week ago. Tomorrow, Stoops and the UK Football team will serve as honorary pallbearers at his funeral and they’re bringing a game ball with them.

“I’m glad we played good for Marco and the Shemwell family. We’re going to bring this game ball to them tomorrow. I’m so glad we played good in honor him and his family.”

LIVE: Mark Stoops after the Mississippi State win

A happy Mark Stoops is about to address reporters about Kentucky’s 28-7 win over Mississippi State. Tune in via the livestream below, courtesy of our friends at KyWildcatsTV:

Benny Snell and Kentucky’s Defense Dominate No. 14 Mississippi State

Kentucky is for real.

The Wildcats entered the game as ten-point underdogs and left with a 28-7 win over the fourteenth-ranked team in the country.

Benny Snell was absolutely incredible, rushing for 165 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries, but the Real MVP was the defense.  UK suffocated the nation’s No. 5 rushing offense, holding them to just 56 rushing yards and 201 total yards.

With ten minutes to play, the Kentucky defense made the play we were waiting for.  After a Josh Allen sack backed up State, Fitzgerald faced pressure on third and long.  Allen hit Fitzgerald as he threw a pass that sailed high into redshirt freshman Tyrell Ajian’s hands.  On the next snap Benny Snell went 36 yards untouched into the end zone.

Snell’s third touchdown of the day gave the Cats a 21-7 lead.  The run also moved him up in the record books.  He surpassed Mark Higgs to become fourth on the all-time rushing list and scored his 38th touchdown, bypassing Randall Cobb’s school record for total touchdowns. His fourth touchdown, a 23-yard fourth quarter dagger, tied a school record for most rushing touchdowns in a game.

Kentucky has now defeated two straight ranked opponents and the Cats are 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1977.

In front of an electric atmosphere at Kroger Field, the Kentucky football team gave fans a gift they never thought they’d receive — the chance to dream about an SEC Championship Game appearance.  Behind Benny Snell and this defense, anything is possible.

UK vs. Mississippi State Halftime Stats, presented by Liquor Barn

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It’s seven all at the end of rainy first half at Kroger Field, and although Kentucky missed some opportunities early on, they made up for it with an impressive run to end the second quarter.

Dorian Baker’s incredible catch set up Benny Snell for a two-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left in the half. The catch was so great Stevie “Got Loose” Johnson posted cell phone footage on Twitter:

Halftime Stats: