A somber Mark Stoops addressed reporters following Kentucky’s 17-13 loss to Tennessee, still coming to terms with the Cats squandering first and goal on their final possession.
“Comes down to a goal line stand and our players fought extremely hard. You come up a yard short and it’s very, very difficult. A tough pill to swallow.”
Kentucky’s chances died on a Lynn Bowden rush for no gain at the two-yard line. When asked, Stoops said he wanted to save his timeouts in case the Vols got the ball back and faltered.
“I thought Lynn played a really good play. I’ll never argue with Lynn taking it right there and he stretched it to the perimeter. We’ll probably look at it and feel like if he would have pitched it would have been a foot race to the pylon and probably had a chance. But I’m not going to argue with that kid and the way he has a chance to pull the ball down and try to drive it in there and get the one yard. Credit them for a nice stop.”
Once again, Bowden took plenty of hits and appeared to be limping at the end of the game, but Stoops was confident he’ll be able to play vs. Vanderbilt on Saturday. If so, will he line up at quarterback or wide receiver? Stoops said Sawyer Smith was available tonight, but the staff chose to go with Bowden.
“Yeah. He was. He was available. We always think about it or discuss it but we were riding with Lynn. We got the ball down there with a heck of a drive there at the end and really wasn’t intentional, it’s just who we are, being very methodical right now and having to get tough yards, and with that, you take that, whatever that was, five, six-minute drive and make them use timeouts and punch that in right there and you feel pretty good about your chances in predictable paths.”
There’s no sugar coating it; tonight’s loss sucks. Stoops said as much, admitting that it’s tough to help his players up off the floor after the second painful loss in a row to the Volunteers.
“I can’t. I can’t. That’s what I talked to the team about. I appreciate their effort and preparation and there’s going to be frustration and we’ve got to control that because it’s hard. These guys invest a lot. And when you invest what we invest, it’s going to hurt. So, we’ve got to handle that as best you can and try to keep the frustration to yourself and regroup and then go look at the film and look at the areas where we can do things better. And that’s the only way you can handle it.”