Although heartbroken about the loss to UGA, the football team is thankful for the big turnout from the Big Blue Nation and the energy that they brought.
By: Larry Vaught
Kentucky players and coaches pleaded for Kentucky fans to fill Commonwealth Stadium for the game against Georgia. It wasn’t quite at capacity, but Big Blue fans answered the call and provided a great atmosphere for what turned out to be a 27-24 loss to the Bulldogs.
On Sunday, junior receiver Dorian Baker probably spoke for the team when he posted this on Twitter: “I just want to thank the entire BBN for coming out and supporting us. The energy was outstanding!”
It was and that’s what made the loss so disappointing because UK could have been in position to reach the SEC championship game with a win and had plenty of chances to win.
“This was just a big opportunity for us to capitalize on the situation given to us. For us to fall short today was just – it kind of grounded us a little bit,” Baker said after the game. “We just have to learn how to finish. We were up the whole game and we just keep thinking there are ways to get better and we have to keep gashing it down and gashing and gashing and not let up. Even though we were winning, still, it’s possible that they can come back, and they did.
“It hurts deeply and it’s just because you sit there and you watch the time go down and you know that they are going to kick the field goal. It hurts and you have to take your time and think about what is going on and what you could’ve done wrong and what you could’ve done better. So it’s painful.”
Painful? Ask freshman running back Benny Snell. He basically put the offense on his back when UK drove for the tying field goal but blamed himself for not getting the ball in the end on two runs inside the 10-yard line to end the drive.
“This group of guys that I’m surrounded by, I love them to death. I just try to play hard. I want to get the first down and win the game,” Snell said. “I could have run harder. I could have run somebody over. I could have done something better.”
Doubtful. No one can ever question his effort and if UK has any chance to win at Tennessee Saturday, it needs plenty more of Snell and Boom Williams. The Vols still have a chance to win the SEC East and that will eliminate any chances of overlooking UK. But as painful as the Georgia loss was, Kentucky’s effort was fine and I’m expecting UK to continue that and put itself in position to have a chance to win in Knoxville. After the way UK started the season, not sure I thought there would be any way I could have seen that happening, but I do now.
With the success of Kentucky’s offensive line the second half of the season, there’s been no mention of redshirt freshman offensive lineman Mason Wolfe of Henderson County.
He was a three-star prospect and picked UK over California, Louisville, Purdue and Missouri. He was regarded as the best offensive lineman in Kentucky in the 2015 recruiting class.
“He is doing well. I think it is a good comparison with him to where Bunchy was at this time last year,” UK line coach John Schlarman said.
Stallings played sparingly in 2015 but has worked his way into the nine-man playing rotation this year and has become a starter at guard at times. Schlarman said Stallings was close to being ready last year, much like Wolfe is now.
“Mason is kind of right there. He is playing well at practice. I am confident when he gets a chance to go in there in games, he’s going to do very well,” Schlarman said.
“That chance just has not presented itself yet. But he is a guy right now that if anything happened to someone, he could be in there playing and I would be very confident putting him in there because I think he is ready.”