Three quick takeaways from Mark Stoops’ Monday press conference discussing Saturday’s win at Florida and this week’s game against Murray State:
1. The Cats played well on the perimeter Saturday.
Though the team ran the football for 303 yards in the 27-16 win over the Gators, Stoops was particularly complimentary of his wide receivers on offense and his cornerbacks on defense.
Stoops liked the way his wideouts blocked on running plays and the toughness they showed on the outside. These days, with spread offenses being so prevalent, you must have wide receivers who can block, not just down the field but at the line of scrimmage. Stoops pointed to a bubble screen pass from Terry Wilson to Lynn Bowden. A good block allowed Bowden to get 5 or 6 yards, then the sophomore wide receiver made a nice move to stretch the play to a double-digit gain.
On defense, Stoops was happy with the job UK’s corners did against the Florida receivers. The Gators boasted a pair of wideout transfers in Van Jefferson (from Ole Miss) and Trevon Grimes (a grad transfer from Ohio State). Neither hurt the Cats. Jefferson had just two catches for 31 yards. Grimes had one catch for nine yards.
2. Josh Allen and Bunchy Stallings win honors.
Allen, a potential All-American at outside linebacker, was named SEC Player of the Week. Stallings, a starter at right offensive guard, was named SEC Lineman of the Week.
Despite battling cramps, Allen ended up with five tackles, including a half-tackle for loss and one sack. He helped set the tone for a Kentucky defense that pressured Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks most of the night. Franks completed just 17 of 38 passes for 232 yards and two scores with a Darius West interception.
Stallings was part of a UK offensive line that paved the way for those 303 rushing yards. And remember, this is a line that lost starting left tackle Landon Young to a torn ACL just one week before the season started.
3. Time to move on, time to get going.
Stoops said it had been an enjoyable 24 hours, but now it was time to move on to this week’s game against Murray State. The Racers are off to an 0-2 start with losses to Southern Illinois and Central Arkansas.
That’s the same Southern Illinois that scored 41 points on Ole Miss in a 76-41 loss last Saturday. Central Arkansas entered the Murray game ranked No. 17 nationally among FCS schools.
Stoops made a point that Saturday’s game will be about UK as a team and the standards it sets for itself. After six turnovers the first two weeks, and 12 penalties for 114 yards on Saturday, the coach said he is looking for a “clean game” against Murray.
By the way, as has been pointed out, Kentucky did not run a single red-zone play on Saturday, yet won the game by 11 points.