A week ago Kentucky was knifing through the Florida defense. Tonight the Kentucky offense could do little right. The coaches believe the problem lies between the ears.
“There’s no excuse for not playing our best at home,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “We have to be more consistent, and you have to play a cleaner version of football and that certainly wasn’t very clean today.”
The UK offense posted season-lows in every yardage category with 53 rushing and 175 passing for just 228 total yards. When Kentucky needed big plays in the second half, they had to get them from the defense and special teams.
“We didn’t do enough on offense to help our team today and that’s on me in terms of, we just didn’t have that edge. Last week there was an edge,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said after the game. It sounds like a hangover from the Florida loss, but that’s not how he described it.
“I’ll never put it on a hangover. That’s my job to get them cranked up, period, the end. I gotta get ’em juiced, ready to play. It’s like that every week. It’s a hangover every week, whether you win or lose. You have to put everything aside and go to the next one. At any given time somebody can whip your tail and they physically got us tonight. We didn’t have the edge.”
Where it was most obvious was on the offensive line. Eastern Michigan had ten tackles for loss and sacked Stephen Johnson five times.
“Our guys, they’re a tough group and more so than anything, those guys aren’t accepting that type of performance,” said offensive line coach John Schlarman. He didn’t see the same edge he saw last week from his unit.
“Last week, we made some mistakes against Florida, sure. We could’ve done things a lot better, but we played with an edge, more so than I’ve ever seen against a quality opponent like that. Today we didn’t play with that edge and you can’t turn that off and on. As an offensive lineman, the minute you turn it off, a game like this occurs.”
Last year, the Kentucky offense was able to close games down the stretch by running the ball. Tonight they needed a first down to end the game, but the Eagles stuffed Benny Snell on the third down. Snell was visibly frustrated after the game, but motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We’re hurting ourselves,” Snell said. “I feel like this team has grown and has took way bigger steps to overcome worse situations than this, but we just gotta get better.”
After the game, the problem was immediately addressed by the leaders on the offensive line.
“I didn’t have to say a whole lot. The leaders stepped up and said what they needed to say,” Schlarman said. “They’re the ones that need to make sure we play a lot better, a lot cleaner, with an edge.”
The Kentucky offense has a week rediscover their edge. Stoops will not accept another performance like today’s.
“There’s no excuses. We just need to play better than that.”