Spirits were not very high in the Kentucky locker room following the Wildcats’ 29-16 loss to Auburn. Mark Stoops saw a few things he liked, but to beat the No. 8 team in the country you cannot make the kind of mistakes UK made Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome. We did some really good things in this game and then did some things we have to improve on. We made too many mistakes to beat a quality opponent like Auburn on the road. There are things that all of us need to do better, but there’s an awful lot of good things – a lot of things to build on,” Stoops said.
“I think there was two, three, four plays that, once again, could have swung the game, and certainly about a five-minute span where we turned it over essentially twice with the fumble and the option with the fake punt. I thought we did well. I thought we were very physical and kept them off balanced for a good portion of the game. We have to get the ball in there at the end of the first half. That’s obviously a critical moment to get some points there. The drive prior to that, we’re starting to get close to field goal range as well and got the hold and took the sack. Two possessions there at the end of the first half were critical along with the five-minute stretch there in the second half with the two turnovers. Big turning points in the game there.”
The game really did come down to a few bad UK mistakes and incredible plays by Auburn, in particular wide receiver Seth Williams. Kentucky won the time of possession battle, out-gained and out-rushed Auburn, but the Wildcats had three turnovers and Williams had two incredible touchdown catches that made a huge difference.
“It definitely gave us a chance to win, there’s no question. There’s critical moments in games that you have to execute and our players know that. You can play 95 percent of the game right and if you play 5 percent of it wrong in certain critical areas, you’re not going to win. I thought we played. a big portion of this game very good, very physical, did some things we wanted to do. There’s a lot of good things to take away and there’s mistakes,” Stoops said.
“There’s also individuals that make a difference and they have a wideout that’s hard to matchup with. In certain situations it’s hard to double (team) him. One play we had today, we essentially had one under and one over and he went up and made that incredible (touchdown) catch. Then late in the game, it was tough… I think there’s critical plays, there’s critical moments, then there’s some great individual moments and you have to credit them.”