After Kentucky escaped Kroger Field with a 24-20 victory over Eastern Michigan, frustration was a common feeling among fans, players and coaches. Mark Stoops was no exception.
The frustrations fell on the Kentucky offense that produced season-lows in almost every statistical category. When Stoops saw the game film, his mind did not change about the offense, but it did change his feelings on the game as a whole after seeing exceptional play on defense and special teams.
“I felt the same way probably you all felt and the fans felt after that game,” Stoops said. “You’re frustrated, because offense is what everybody looks at, but there’s three phases last time I checked. I thought after watching the film we played very good on defense and very good on special teams. Offensively, we’ll get it fixed. There’s no panic button, you just look at the things and get them fixed and move on.”
Stoops is confident the problems can be fixed because they can be summed up easily: play physical and protect the quarterback.
“We were not physical in the run game. Protection was an issue. Stephen threw the ball well when he had time. I thought the receivers made some good catches at times. There were other times where we need to be sharper, more crisp in our route-running and getting open for Stephen.”
Despite those offensive problems, Kentucky was able to beat Eastern Michigan thanks to the defense and special teams. It worked last week, but you can’t always win with that formula.
“There’s going to be games when we’re going to have to outscore people, heck, just look at the week before. It should have been enough and defensively we didn’t get the stops.”
This week might be a game where Kentucky has to outscore their opponent. Missouri averages 445 yards per game and will enter Kroger Field off a Bye Week.
“I anticipate them coming out and playing extremely fast, backs against the wall and I know they’ll play well,” Stoops said.
“The number one thing you’re always concerned about when you play them is their offense and the tempo at which they play. Their quarterback, (Drew) Locke is good as there is. It seems like we’ve seen a slew of good quarterbacks lately and he’s another one. He can make all the throws and I think they have great speed at wide receiver. They have a young talented (running) back…both of their backs are very, very good. They’re capable of breaking out at any time. It’ll be a real challenge for us this week.”
Kentucky must embrace the challenge in all three phases of the game. Stoops is confident that will be the case. “We’re all in this together.”