Chandler Burden swallowed hard, cleared his throat and stood up in the University of Kentucky locker room.
The team had lost four straight games and the offense was struggling.
As a senior, Burden felt he needed to say something to his teammates.
He tried to think of the most positive thing he could say.
Never miss a local story.
So he thanked the defense for its effort this season.
"I was feeling guilty," Burden explained. "When you're averaging under 100 yards a game those first four or five games, you feel guilty that you've put so much on the defense."
Burden saw his defensive line counterparts unable to catch their collective breath on the sidelines in between series.
He knew many of the defense's woes were directly related to the offense's inability to stay on the field.
In the Cats' first six games of the season, the offense never had a first-half drive longer than four minutes and 24 seconds.
Its longest drive in those first six games was seven minutes, and that was against Central Michigan in the fourth quarter.
In the 54-3 loss at South Carolina, the longest time of possession was three minutes and 22 seconds. The Cats had eight possessions that were less than a minute long.
"That's really tough for any defense," said Coach Joker Phillips, who said many of UK's poor defensive statistics were a direct reflection of how much time they had to be out there, "having to go back on the field sometimes after three and out, sometimes after one and out.
"It's definitely hurt them."
The UK defenders spent less time on their own sideline than they would at a drive-through window.
"We'd sit down, get a drink of water and it was time to go right back," linebacker Ronnie Sneed said.
Sneed especially felt for the defensive linemen.
"When you're 300 pounds, it's hard to run a million plays in a game," he said.
It was especially difficult for the defense to make any in-game adjustments.
"A lot of times we'd have to make our adjustments at halftime," Sneed said.
And by halftime in many of those games, it was far too late.
As the offense has evolved under new quarterback Max Smith and a healthier offensive line, no one is more pleased (or grateful) than the Cats' defensive players.
"It makes it a lot more of a team game," defensive back Anthony Mosley said. "You're not as tired when you walk out there. You can concentrate. You're not still gasping from the previous drive."
It also has given the Cats' defense a chance to make some adjustments before the band comes on the field for its halftime show.
A perfect example of that was in UK's win over Mississippi last week. The Rebels were using a formation they usually deployed when they were planning to run the ball. In this game, Mississippi was using that formation to run play-action. Because of a sustained drive by the offense and Smith in the first half, Kentucky was able to change its plan and hedge more, preparing for a run or a pass.
"When the offense stays on the field a little longer, it gives you a little bit more time to rest and to talk about what happened on the previous drive," Mosley said.
Both Mosley and Sneed said the defense is the offense's biggest cheerleader.
Said Sneed: "Them getting those first downs and moving the ball really well gives us more time so we're getting ourselves together, re-energizing our battery."