It’s been three and a half days and the inside draw on second down with under a minute remaining is still a hot topic around Kentucky football.
During his Monday press conference, Mark Stoops was asked once again about Shannon Dawson’s unpopular play call and Dawson’s postgame comment about having the courage to call a play fans may not agree with.
Stoops said he would’ve called a pass, knowing what he knows now. But time wasn’t the problem:
I think, you know, there was one other call in the game in a similar situation that we didn’t run the ball. I think, like I said after the game, it’s always easy to second guess. People that say, ‘Would you do anything different?’ I mean most people would be lying if it didn’t work, right? Certainly, if you can let me do that play over again, of course we’d call a pass. But time wasn’t the issue in that game. Downs were. We lost a down there. We didn’t lose — time didn’t necessarily — I think we had a lot of time, you know, to finish that game off.
It’s understandable to get some criticism over that. We can handle it. That’s fine. But I support the call because we have to — I’ve said it all along: whether it’s a situation of dealing with time right there or any time in the game, if you can play with two safeties and play two deep and roll up on our receivers, then you have to be able to run the ball. We’ve done it before and it worked and had we popped that run for some good yards, I think all of you would be sitting there writing about what a genius (Coach Dawson) was.
Stoops did not defend the eight-man punt return, however. When asked about that one, he said, “We messed that up. I messed that up. I take responsibility for that.”
He expected Auburn to go for it (as did everyone else) and things got all messed up with packages and personnel when he tried to sub the punt safe. He wishes he had left the returner and subbed one person for one person.
“That’s my fault and it could’ve cost it. Luckily, we had so many people running off we weren’t going to get called for twelve.”