Kentucky coach Mark Stoops called it a “relief” to finish the regular season with a 41-18 win over South Carolina.

The Wildcats did it with a big rushing attack with 291 yards on the ground. He made sure to enjoy it and said he took his headset off with about two and a half minutes to go and took a breath, he said in the postgame media session. But South Carolina also had 297 yards rushing, including 210 from Kevin Harris.

Here’s a sampling of what Stoops shared with the media:

“For a difficult, trying season, they really laid it on the line tonight and that’s what I’m most proud of tonight’s game, is their mindset was right, their effort was right,” Stoops said. “We weren’t perfect. But they really played hard and I really respect that from our team, appreciate that from our team and our staff.”

Stoops said he was grateful to the seniors, who came to UK before the bowl streak was alive.

Stoops liked the description of “relief.”

“For coaches, you never really want to feel that way,” he said. “But this year, I think that’s a fair word. Just to get through it and persevere through difficult times. We’ll see as we move forward.”

He said the mental drain, and not having the ability to get your confidence by playing a 10-game SEC schedule is immense pressure, and every day and all day.

“That’s what people don’t always grasp, it’s not just these games,” Stoops said.

Stoops says out of respect, tonight is not the time to talk about possible staff changes.

About a possible bowl game, Stoops said, “if it’s expected of us, we’ll put one foot in front of another.”