Stoops says now is no time to get down

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 12, 2023

By Keith Taylor

Kentucky Today

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops didn’t offer any excuses for his team’s performance in a 51-13 loss to No. 1 Georgia last Saturday.

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“I wasn’t satisfied in any in any area and I will not make excuses,” Stoops said Monday. “I love these guys and I have faith and confidence in them, but I cannot excuse that performance in any way.”

The loss was the first of the year for Kentucky, which opened with five straight victories for the third time in the past five years. The Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) fell from No. 20 to 24th in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday.

Kentucky began shifting its focus from the letdown in Athens to Missouri, its next opponent before an open date set for Oct. 21. The Tigers (5-1, 1-1) are coming off a 49-39 loss to LSU, the team’s first setback of the year.

Stoops understands each week is a difficult task in the Southeastern Conference, but added the key is how you respond under pressure each week, especially after a blowout loss.

“You’re going to face adversity,” Stoops said. “In this league, the teams we play, you’re going to hit some tough patches. It’s how you respond and how you react to it and how you move forward.”

Stoops doesn’t think the Wildcats will allow one loss to turn into multiple setbacks, which has occurred in Stoops’ tenure. Following a loss to Georgia two years ago in Athens, the Wildcats lost two straight before winning their last three games of the regular season.

“That’s not going to happen,” Stoops said. “I can’t predict who is going to win or lose this game because I have great respect for Missouri and it’s always a close game. We know it’s going to be a great challenge. They’re hitting on all cylinders.

“We’re not going to tolerate being mopey and being down. We’re going to address it, we’re going to own it, we’re going to look at our mistakes, we’re all going to take our own part, then we’re going to move on.”

To overcome the disappointment of last weekend’s setback and forge forward, Stoops said his squad needs to “get back to work and be a better football team.”

“We’ve got to get back to being who we are. We’ve got to get back to controlling the things that we can control. That’s how we prepare. We’ve got to get some guys healthy. We’ve got to have a great week of practice.”

Injury update: Stoops said senior safety Jalen Geiger will miss a few games after he suffered an undisclosed injury to his arm in last week’s loss to the Bulldogs.

“Jalen is one that looks like he’ll be out for a few weeks for sure,” Stoops said.