Stoops offers appreciation for first responders on 22nd anniversary of 9/11, gives Coen update
Published 9:33 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023
On the 22nd anniversary of 9-11, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops offered his appreciation for first responders and gave a greater sense of appreciation after offensive coordinator Liam Coen suffered a medical episode early Sunday afternoon.
“It doesn’t take you very long to be in any type of situation where you need first responders and doctors and it happens to hit very close to home with me today and the appreciation and need for those folks,” he said. “On this day, I think it’s certainly fitting to remember them and thank them and pray for all the people that lost their lives. It has been a challenging day or so for us and we will continue to push forward as always. I think the prognosis of things look good with the people in our office and that will be back in our office.”
Coen spent the night at UK Chandler Medical Center and was expected to be released on Monday. The Kentucky offensive coordinator suffered the unknown emergency less than 24 hours after the Wildcats (2-0) defeated Eastern Kentucky University 28-17 Saturday night at Kroger Field.
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Stoops isn’t sure whether Coen will return to the sidelines when Kentucky hosts Akron on Saturday night to close out a three-game homestand to open the season. Stoops said the offensive staff collectively began preparing for the Zips on Sunday.
“We’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ve got it under control. We’ve worked extremely hard after a challenging day. We had a good work night and got some things in place. We will move forward and get corrections made from this past game and get going on Akron, and have already done both.”
Stoops admitted unexpected circumstances are “always a challenge because we have a very tight staff and a big group” and added it has been emotional during the past 24 hours.
“I’ve been here 11 years, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten emotional on this thing, so don’t try to get me,” Stoops said. “The emotions could come out on me right now because, you know, we love each other. When we work, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. So, when anything happens to any of our staff members, it’s hard.
“I can’t dive into too much but we have a lot of special people there,” he said. “As I mentioned in the opening statement, with your appreciation for any police, fire, EMS, doctors, and what appreciation you have when you need them.”
Kentucky senior Eli Cox was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week for the second time in his career by the league office on Monday.
In Kentucky’s 28-17 win over Eastern Kentucky Saturday, Cox played every offensive snap and graded out at 86 percent by the coaches. He did not allow a quarterback pressure or sack and incurred no penalties at both the right guard and center positions. It was the team captain’s 32nd career game, 24 of which have been starts, including 15 straight.
“Eli is, as I mentioned in pre-season, such a solid guy,” Stoops said. “He’s a great leader, one of those guys who are just a rock, an anchor. You just expect him to be out there playing well at whatever position. We got, I want to say, nine snaps with him at the end in center, just to make sure we are protecting ourselves and getting some options.”
Vandy TV time
Kentucky’s first road game and first SEC contest on Sept. 23 at Vanderbilt will have a noon kickoff on the SEC Network in Nashville.