Following Kentucky’s fourth quarter collapse against Florida, head coach Mark Stoops said everything a head coach should say. He did not make excuses. He was accountable for his actions (or lack thereof) and shouldered responsibility for the mistakes that cost Kentucky the game.
“There’s things we all could do better, starting with myself, that hurt that we have to accept responsibility for, that we have to do better. It starts with me,” he said during today’s press conference.
The first glaring mistake happened twice. Kentucky left Florida wide receivers near the sidelines uncovered to hand the Gators two touchdowns.
“Obviously that can’t happen. There’s no excuse for it. That starts with me.”
The first time Stoops got caught looking at Florida’s unbalanced formation. The second time there was a miscommunication while trying to make a last-second substitution. He tried to do too much near the goal line and failed. Now it’s just another harsh lesson learned.
“That’s on me,” Stoops said. “It’s inexcusable. In 30 years it’s happened to me three times. And those three times were here. That’s on me. That should never happen again. I’ll have two people watching the edges, the perimeter of the field. If we’re not in position, somebody better be hitting me over the head and I need to call a timeout.”
Those were two extremely specific scenarios. A day of watching film revealed other missed opportunities that cost Kentucky a chance to snap a thirty-year losing streak to Florida. He took it personally.
“That’s the deal with the head coach that every offense, defense and special teams play is ultimately under your control and anything that you do to take away from winning hurts you a great deal. I said last week that it was very important to myself also. I haven’t been here for 30 years, but I embrace the history and the passion of our people. We have to be able to shoulder that. That’s just the way it is. These kids don’t, but I do. These guys, they weren’t even born. They’re just here trying to compete for the Big Blue Nation and fight their hearts out and they’ve done that. We’ll do our best to put them in position to be successful.”
Failing to snap the streak hurts, but that’s not what hurts the most.
“It is a shame because the players and the team, we played exceptionally good football for a big portion of that game. That’s the good news. That’s how far this team has come.”
After the team watches film this afternoon, they will put the painful loss in the past.
“We don’t have time to sit and dwell on it. It was a long 24 hours for myself, that’s for sure. It was very difficult to get through, but today is a new day, a new week and a new opportunity.”
Stoops is confident that this team still has enough left in the tank to do something special this season.
“If our team continues to play with that kind of edge and attitude, and work and prepare the way they do, continue to get better, then good things are in store for us as we have through the season.”