After a difficult loss that ended a difficult season, offensive coordinator Neal Brown opened his remarks to the media with a positive.
"Our fans are disappointed; I understand that," Brown said. "But I can tell them the good news is, all the guys that made plays tonight will be back."
In the past two games, running back Dyshawn Mobley, in particular, has caught not only Brown's eye, but also head coach Mark Stoops'.
"Dyshawn getting out and finishing the year like he did the last two weeks is very encouraging," Brown said of the sophomore, who started the season near the bottom of the Cats' depth chart at running back.
The Tennessee native played well on special teams all season and tried to seize the moment when it was given to him late in the year, including a 69-yard touchdown run at Georgia last Saturday.
"I just waited my turn and let everything play out," Mobley said. "I knew when I got my chance I was going to go in there and give my all."
UK's running back group took a hit as senior Raymond Sanders battled off-the-field problems late in the year and freshman Jojo Kemp was hobbled by ankle pain.
In his final two games this season, Mobley had 27 carries for 235 yards, including 17 carries for 143 yards in the 27-14 loss to Tennessee at Commonwealth Stadium.
"It felt great," Mobley said. "I told my team at halftime I was going to lay it all on the line for them, go out there and have fun."
Stoops couldn't say enough about Mobley.
"I love the way he's playing," Stoops said. " He's going all out and it's good to see. He's got great passion for the game. You could see that when he's going down there and busting his hump on special teams and doing all those good things, so I've been pleased with Dyshawn."
Senior Night festivities
Three players were late additions to Saturday's Senior Night festivities.
Two linebackers, Kory Brown and Malcolm McDuffen, and offensive tackle Tyler Davenport brought the list of UK seniors to 19.
For one senior, it was a bittersweet ending to a strong Kentucky career.
"I didn't cry until the last snap," said Avery Williamson, the undisputed team leader. Against Tennessee he had six tackles, bringing his season total to 102. He went over 100 total tackles for the second straight year and ended up four shy of 300 for his career.
"With Avery, it's more than just who he is on the field," quarterback Maxwell Smith said. "It's a leadership thing that we'll lose with him. He's a vocal leader, a great guy, one of my closest friends on the team. I'm really going to miss him, and he's got to get drafted high."
Senior Donte Rumph had a game-best 10 tackles for Kentucky, including half of a tackle for loss and a forced fumble in his final game for the Cats.
Among that group of departing 19 celebrated on the field was running back Raymond Sanders, whom Stoops allowed to participate despite suspending the senior for the final game of the season for an unspecified violation of team rules.
UK injury updates
Running back Jojo Kemp reported after the game that he's been battling ankle problems for much of the season, which has limited his explosiveness.
The true freshman said he will have surgery to remove bone spurs in both ankles on Tuesday and then begin rehabilitating.
Quarterback Maxwell Smith, who has been battling shoulder trouble since his freshman season, said he planned to meet with doctors to reassess whether or not he should have off-season surgery on his right throwing shoulder.
"My shoulder is all right," Smith said. "I have a bad shoulder, and maybe we'll get it re-evaluated. I didn't practice (much this week), but I played, and that's really all that matters. I did all I could."
Quarterback Jalen Whitlow, who has been having neck spasms since the Vanderbilt game, was limited to fewer than a handful of snaps Saturday and even fewer in practice last week.
"We got all kinds of checks on him and sent him to a specialist and MRIs and the whole deal to make sure that there wasn't anything that could be permanently injured or anything like that," Stoops said afterward. "So he did what he could to get in there and help us get out of the game.
"And Max, again, he really gave it everything he had. His arm was bothering him. He took a shot last week and his arm was bothering him a little bit this week. You know, again, those guys tried to do what they could."
'I don't want to do that'
A pass interference call against Kentucky on Saturday was the breaking point for Stoops in the loss.
He was flagged shortly thereafter for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the head coach seemed like a remorseful kid in timeout when he discussed the penalty afterward.
"Hey, I don't want to do that," he said of letting the frustration — perhaps from a long season — boil over. "You know, that's not what I want to do. I think you guys can see me. I try hard to not do that, you know, and to keep it together, and we've got to be able to overcome things."
When asked a little later if he thought blowing up at the officials got the fans excited, Stoops shrugged.
"People that know me know I'm going to fight and all that, and my players do," he said. "But you also know and I also know, that sooner or later, they just call you an idiot, you know what I mean?"