There were two critical mistakes in Kentucky’s 29-13 loss at Auburn that happened on consecutive fourth quarter possessions. A Terry Wilson fumble quickly turned a two-point deficit into nine. On the next possession, the Wildcats were stopped once again, forced to punt facing a fourth and five. The next mistake happened before the snap.
Max Duffy tucked the ball and ran near the UK sideline. The fake punt was snuffed out almost immediately by Auburn, who tackled the UK punter before he reached the line of scrimmage.
Head coach Mark Stoops explained after the game that the fake was a predicated on a pre-snap read by Duffy. If Auburn gave UK a certain look, Duffy had the green light to take off and run. Stoops shouldered the blame for not switching that light to red once the Tigers grew the lead from two to nine points.
“That was a situation where it was a read and that’s not on Max,” Stoops said. “That’s on me. That’s on us. We had it on, when we were down two a possession before, but we turned it over and we fumbled. Then we went back down, and being down nine, that’s not when you call that.
“I don’t put that on Max. I’ve gotta communicate, take that off with my special teams coach prior to Max going out there, taking that read off of him. That’s on us. That’s on me.”
Two plays after the failed fake, Auburn scored what would be the final touchdown of the game to take a 29-16 lead.
Stoops did not hire a special teams coach when Dean Hood departed to be Murray State’s head coach. Most of those duties now fall on quality control analyst Louie Matsakis.
When Max was using his legs to punt, he actually had a pretty decent day. After the Wildcats were pinned back inside their own five yard-line, he booted one 75 yards to flip the field and set a new personal record.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 26, 2020