Kentucky has not been able to put together a high-level performance from all three phases at once this season with the exception of the second half at Tennessee. One game the offense is moving the ball with rhythm and the defense cannot put together a stop, or the offense cannot get a driving going and the defense dominates. Either way, the inability of the team to sync-up has been really frustrating to UK Head Coach Mark Stoops.
“If I had the answer to that, I would have a lot less stress on me, that’s for sure. It’s been hard to put my finger on it,” he said.
“Again, I really love our players. I think it’s a different year. I’m not giving them an option; you can’t give them any excuse at all. There’s no excuse. We need to put it together. We need to play as a team. We need to play the very best we can on all sides and it doesn’t seem like we’re going that and that’s very frustrating to me. That’s not the way it’s been for us for years, but it is this year. We’re terribly inconsistent on one side or the other. We’ve not put it all together and for a coach that’s frustrating.”
As a former defensive coordinator at Florida State, Stoops’ biggest frustration is with inconsistent defense. After the worst two-game stretch that the defense has had in a few years to open the season, they were actively forcing turnovers and difficult to score on. Against winless Vanderbilt, however, they conceded 35 points, reverting back to issues they experienced against Auburn and Ole Miss.
“I think the urgency needs to be greater, the attention to detail throughout an entire game needs to be greater. I know defensively for me, there’s no excuse. I sit there and watch us and at times I see a group of young men they want somebody else to make the play. They want some miraculous call to stop the play,” he said.
This became increasingly frustrating because of the offensive explosion UK had on Saturday, as they put up 38 points with virtual ease after combining for just 13 points in the previous two games.
“I thought offensively they all played hard and they played united. They really had a lot more opportunities out there had we been able to play better defense and be able to have more stops and not allow them to have 80 plays. I think it really could’ve been a big day offensively,” Stoops said.
With all that said, Stoops detailed that these inconsistency issues can be fixed with a more focused attitude from each position, which is especially important now as they face No. 1 Alabama this weekend.
“It can be fixed with an attitude, and a work ethic and a great sense of urgency and a passion to play. It can be fixed,” he said. “Believe me, the challenge is going to be great. We all understand that. We’re probably playing one of the greatest offenses you’ve seen in a long time. Then after that we’ll see one just the same.”