Mark Stoops takes responsibility for blown coverages in 'heartbreaking loss' to Florida
It’s hard to end a 30-year losing streak if you completely blow coverage in a critical moment of a game. It’s impossible if you do it twice.
Kentucky learned that lesson the hard way Saturday night, as the Wildcats lost in the as a last-second game-winning touchdown fell just short at Kroger Field, giving Florida a 28-27 win over Kentucky.
Immediately after the game, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops faced the difficult question of how his team left two Florida receivers completely unguarded at two different times, including for the go-ahead score that won the Gators the game.
“Very disappointing that we didn’t come up with those plays. The breakdown in communication is really a sore spot because they stick out and take away from the energy and passion that we played with,” Stoops said when discussing the plays.
“I accept responsibility for those plays and we will get it fixed.”
Why didn’t Stoops call a timeout, especially on the final touchdown of the game? According to the Kentucky coach, he tried but claims no referee saw him do so.
Q. The receiver was standing on your sideline and nobody near him. What went on there?
Stoops: “There should have been a guy there and I should have called it (a timeout) and, quite honestly, we were looking at the unbalanced formation. I was looking at the set and I was fixed on our fits because we were having some issues obviously with that set. And we were looking at exactly the formation in there, the bunch set, and by the time we realized that there was nobody on him, I tried to call a timeout and it was too late. I was fractions off of getting the timeout. So Derrick (Baity) said that he did not see the player out there.”
Q. The one at the end?
Stoops: “We subbed and Jordan (Griffin) came out when the other corner came out. We were getting into a big goal-line set and both corners came out and we left them uncovered. That’s our fault. We tried to change personnel groups too late. We should have lived with the call that we had and tried to sub for bigger people – and that can’t happen in that situation. Our players can’t hear. It’s loud and they can’t hear and the communication is very – as you guys know – with the crowd noise with offense and I know it’s like that on defense, it’s the defense at home. And we have got to communicate much better. We have got to do a better job of coaching them.”
Stoops also added this thought:
Stoops: "As you can imagine, very heartbreaking loss for us and our team."
— KSTV (@KSTV_Sports) September 24, 2017
Kentucky had a chance to win the game but a holding penalty pushed the Wildcats out of field goal range. Stoops was asked about the call after the game.
Q. Did you see the holding call on that last drive? What are your thoughts on that?
Stoops: “I didn’t. Did you? No. I didn’t see it. I mean, that’s obviously a heartbreaking penalty at that point.”