Stoops: Showdown for SEC lead at Georgia ‘great opportunity’
Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops sees the Wildcats’ second Southeastern Conference road game as a chance to build on his team’s success this season.
“What a great opportunity,” Stoops said. “You have to credit coach Kirby Smart, his staff, his players for what they’ve done and the consistency that they’ve had for many years, in particular the last two, to go on to win back-to-back national championships is very difficult to do.”
The 20th-ranked Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) will take on top-ranked Georgia in a showdown between two of the three unbeaten teams in the SEC East (Missouri is the other).
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Kentucky pieced together its best offensive showing of the season with 394 yards rushing in a 33-14 win over Florida Saturday and Stoops is confident his the Cats can move forward.
“You need to build on that,” Stoops said. “I feel like that things were in place for us to take a jump because it wasn’t for a lack of effort, it wasn’t for lack of a plan, there was just some minor execution things that we knew we could get fixed. And we still have to. I think it can give us confidence to know what we can do but there’s still that discontent because we know we can be better.”
If will mark the third time in six years the two teams will meet with control of the SEC East in the balance. Georgia (5-0, 2-0) is coming off a 27-20 win over Auburn.
“I’d like to believe that you have to learn from every opportunity,” Stoops said. “It’s about us. How will we handle it? How will we play? We’re on the road. This will be the first time we take in this type of environment. How are we going to handle that? Every time you put yourself in that position, you better learn from it. You better grow from it in some way, shape or form. But for us, it’s about continuing to build on the good things, continuing to play well, play clean and just do the things that we’re doing.”
Stoops is hopeful the Wildcats learned from last week’s win over Florida, which gave the Wildcats a rare third straight victory over their SEC East rivals.
“We know we left plays out there on the field,” Stoops said. “And we know we’re going to have to improve with the challenge that starts this week. You have to continue to play clean and you have to improve in those areas.”
Honors for Cats
Ray Davis was named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 280 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 33-14 win over Florida last Saturday.
His final rushing tally was the third most in a single game and his four touchdowns tied a school record for the most TDs in a game. He is the 13th UK player to score at least four touchdowns in a game.
Jeremy Flax was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. He graded at 97 percent and had five knockdown blocks, didn’t allow a quarterback sack or pressure and didn’t miss an assignment as the Wildcats rushed for a season-high 329 yards against the Gators.
Kentucky’s game against Missouri, set for Oct. 14, will be at 7 or 7:30 p.m. and be televised on the SEC Network.