Despite the disappointment, Stoops’ focus shifts to Eastern Michigan


Head coach Mark Stoops waves to the crowd after the game against Austin Peay on Saturday, November 19, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Jacob Heheman

After Kentucky’s first loss of the season against Florida, head coach Mark Stoops only had one person to blame: himself.

The Wildcats fell short to the Gators for the 31st consecutive year by a final score of 28-27 after squandering a 27-14 fourth quarter lead. The loss dropped Kentucky to a 3-1 overall record and is now 1-1 in conference play.

Florida took their first lead of the game with 43 seconds remaining when wide receiver Freddie Swain was left uncovered in the end zone. The miscommunication was Kentucky’s second of the game and both led directly to Florida touchdowns. 

Stoops said both plays should not have happened and took full blame for the defensive miscues. 

“The ball cannot be snapped unless we have leverage on both sides of the ball,” Stoops said. “I can’t believe it happened, but it did and I take responsibility for that.” 

Even after the Florida score, there was still time for Kentucky’s offense to put together one final drive for Austin MacGinnis to kick an all too familiar game-winning field goal.

On fourth and 11 at the Florida 49-yard line, Stephen Johnson connected with Charles Walker on a 14-yard pass play. After an incomplete pass, Kentucky had time to run one more play before attempting the field goal. 

Running back Benny Snell took the ball up the middle for 10 yards to the Florida 25-yard line to set up a very makeable kick for MacGinnis. However, a holding penalty on Nick Haynes dropped the Cats back to the 45-yard line and out of field goal range.

When asked about the penalty, Stoops said there was not anything he could do about it.

“I really can’t comment on that because I’m in a no-win situation there,” Stoops said. “There’s nothing for me to say about that. It was called unfortunately.”

While Florida was a tough opponent for the Cats, Stoops said it will be a challenge this week against Eastern Michigan as well.

“They have some impressive games this year, you know, winning on the road at Rutgers is a big win,” Stoops said.

Stoops said it was a tough 24 hours after the loss, but knows there is still more to accomplish with this team.

“We really don’t have time to sit and dwell on it,” Stoops said. “Today is a new day, and a new week and a new opportunity so it’s exciting to get back to work and can’t wait to get in there and get going with our players.”