Kentucky defeated Tennessee 29 to 26.
Highlights from UK Sports Video
From UK Athletics
KENTUCKY POSTGAME NOTES
Tennessee at Kentucky
Kroger Field, Lexington, Ky.
Oct. 28, 2017
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 29, Tennessee 26
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 6-2 overall, 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee is 3-5, 0-5 in the league.
- Tennessee leads the all-time series in games played 79-25-9, including a 37-15-3 mark in games played in Lexington. Tonight’s win snapped a five-game winning streak for Tennessee in the series.
- The Wildcats will return to action on Nov. 4 against Ole Miss at Kroger Field. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET and will be televised on the SEC Network.
- The win moved Kentucky to a 13-5 record over the last 18 regular-season games.
- This marks the first time UK has accomplished this feat since Nov. 20, 1976 to Oct. 21, 1978. UK was 13-4-1 during that stretch.
- Kentucky has reached its sixth win of the season on Oct. 28, which is the fourth earliest that UK has reached six wins in program history.
- This is the earliest UK has accomplished this feat since Oct. 13, 2007.
- UK has won nine of its last 11 home games.
- This is the best stretch since Sept. 30, 2006 to Oct. 20, 2007.
- UK has won six of its last 10 SEC games.
- This is the best stretch since Oct. 28, 2006 to Nov. 10, 2007.
- Kentucky has scored in 21 straight quarters at Kroger Field.
- Kentucky has had a 100-yard rusher in each of its last five home games against Tennessee.
- UK scored 21 points in the first half, which was the most points scored in the first half against Tennessee since scoring 21 in 2009.
- Kentucky is 3-2 in SEC play in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1976/1977.
- The Wildcats are 8-2 in games decided by seven points or less over the last two seasons.
- Kentucky’s 289 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns are season highs.
- UK averaged 8.0 yards per rush in the game.
- This was Kentucky’s most rushing yards in a SEC home game since Nov. 13, 2010 vs. Vanderbilt. UK had 341 rushing yards that game.
- UK has at least 289 rushing yards in a game in consecutive seasons against an SEC opponent for the first time since 2009/2010 against Vanderbilt.
- Dating back to at least 1985, the game-winning touchdown with :33 left is the latest game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against an SEC opponent.
- The late TD marks the first time UK has scored a game-winning touchdown in the final minute of a game since Sept. 5, 2015 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
- Kentucky’s 29 points scored was its most in a win against Tennessee since the first-ever meeting in 1893. UK scored 56 points that game.
- Kentucky had four turnovers tonight. The last time UK had at least four turnovers and still won was in 2008 vs. Arkansas when the Wildcats won despite four miscues.
- The last time UK lost with a turnover margin of -4 or worse was 1998 vs. Indiana.
- UK’s game captains were OG Nick Haynes, QB Stephen Johnson, LB Courtney Love and S Mike Edwards. They have been game captains every game this season.
- Senior quarterback Stephen Johnson completed six passes for 46 yards, while he rushed six times for 84 yards and a touchdown.
- Johnson’s touchdown rush with :33 left in the game was the game-winner.
- Johnson had 84 rushing yards, which is the most by a UK quarterback in an SEC game since Matt Roark against Tennessee in 2011. Roark had 124 that day against the Vols.
- Sophomore running back Benny Snell was impressive in the win, rushing a game-high 27 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
- It is his second-most single-game yardage of his career, behind the 192 yards at Missouri last season.
- It is his fourth 100-yard game of the season and ninth of his career.
- Snell is the first player in school history with nine career 100-yard rushing games prior to their junior season.
- He has nine rushing TDs this season and 22 in his career.
- Snell is the ninth player in school history to reach 20 career rushing touchdowns.
- Snell is the first player in school history to reach 20 career rushing touchdowns prior to his junior season.
- Snell is the first UK player with three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a SEC game since Artose Pinner against Vanderbilt on Nov. 16, 2002.
- Snell is the first UK player with three rushing touchdowns against Tennessee since Moe Williams on Nov. 18, 1995.
- Snell’s rushing total is the most a UK player has ever had against Tennessee.
- Snell’s rushing total is the sixth most by a UK player in an SEC game at Kroger Field.
- Snell is the first UK player with 180 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in an SEC game since Rafael Little vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 12, 2005.
- Snell now has 1,812 rushing yards for his career, which moves him into ninth place on UK’s career rushing list.
- Senior wide receiver Garrett Johnson caught one pass in the game and has caught at least one pass in 19 consecutive games.
- Senior wide receiver Blake Bone caught two passes for 26 yards.
- Junior safety Mike Edwards recorded 10 tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss in the game.
- Edwards has recorded 10 or more tackles in four of his last five games.
- Junior linebacker Jordan Jones led all players with 13 tackles in the game, adding one sack and two tackles for loss.
- Jones’ 13 tackles are a season high and the most in his career in a SEC game.
- Jones has recorded 10 or more tackles in five career games.
- Junior linebacker Josh Allen recorded seven tackles, one tackle for loss and 0.5 sacks in the game.
- Allen has at least a half-sack in six of UK’s eight games this season.
- Allen has had a TFL in every game this season.
- Allen is the first UK player with at least seven sacks in consecutive seasons since Bud Dupree in 2013/2014.
- Allen is the first UK player with seven sacks through the team’s first eight games of the season since Dennis Johnson had 7.5 in 2001.
- Senior defensive end Denzil Ware recorded nine tackles with one sack and two tackles for loss in the game.
- Ware has recorded a sack in four games this season.
- Senior kicker Austin MacGinnis had three PATs in the game, which takes his career total of PATs made to 129. That ranks him second all-time at UK. He needs 29 more to tie Lones Seiber for the most all time at 158. He improved his UK career scoring record to 318 total points.
Kentucky Football Postgame Quotes
Kentucky vs. Tennessee
Kroger Field – Lexington, Ky.
Oct. 28, 2017
Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops
MARK STOOPS: I was joking here before our audio got turned on with some of the media that even they have to admit that that’s a thing of beauty. And it is because how many times were we on the wrong end of that for 33, 34 years or however many years. There’s been many times when we have played some good football and came up on the wrong end. We have done that here. And so it was really nice to be on the other end to just hang in there. But I have to give so much credit, number one, to our football team the way they hung in there in difficult, difficult times. Obviously, offensively with turnovers really put us behind the eight ball as far as plays, opportunities, chances for Tennessee, kept us on the field. They were having success in the first half running the ball and the defense just kept on hanging in there. So proud of our team to pull together. This is what we said on the last drive, just one drive, just put it together, run our offense, and put a drive together and they did that. And I have to credit Tennessee, there’s no doubt in my mind, I knew what they would do, that’s a prideful program with very good football players that have a lot of pride and they came in here and played exceptionally hard. They played a very good game and outplayed us in many ways, many times. I knew Butch (Jones) would have them ready and they played super hard for him and give them credit. But very proud of our players, our coaches, and it’s a team victory right there. Every phase had to step up in certain moments and they did that tonight.
- Talk about your gutsy quarterback.
MARK STOOPS: Amazing, really. Just — Stephen, there’s not many players that probably would have came back and even played in that situation. He’s absolutely tough as nails and we have so much respect and pride for him and our team does and he led us tonight and led us on that drive and like I said, I don’t think many players would have played in that situation.
- Put together that drive and took that lead. Where was your mind when that last ball was in the air?
MARK STOOPS: Well, I was pissed off that we were in that situation on the fourth down. We should have been off the field. We got to have, we got to back up a little bit more and Jordan (Jones) just kind of floated on that drop. So we had to have better sense in that situation. And on the long one, it was hard for me to even see. I didn’t — I saw the ball going out after the throw. But, obviously, when I saw the end result, I was very, very pleased with that.
- When Stephen came back in the game, the very first play, he took off running it. Was that by design?
MARK STOOPS: No, it was a read. He pulled it. I think they felt like there was no way he would pull that ball right there and they squeezed very hard on the edge and that’s a read play. You either give it to the running back or pull it and he made a good read and ran it.
- Do you think you kind of rediscovered that offensive identity that was so successful in the early part of the year?
MARK STOOPS: I did, because, look, we only ended up having 52 plays again, but we rushed for 289. That’s hard to believe. Four possessions we take away by putting the ball on the ground. I don’t exactly know what the drive chart looks like yet in the second half, but, obviously, the defense getting some stops, keeping us in there was huge. But, yeah, I think it was real important to get that identity. You heard me talk about it and I think our players really had a strong mindset that we were going to be efficient at running and throwing. And really throwing, we were off tonight for awhile. We did it by any means necessary, sometimes it’s going to be offense, defense or special teams. Sometimes it will be running it or throwing it. But I think it’s critically important for us to be able to run the ball. And I think you saw them, they were more efficient tonight because of their run success as well.
- That last drive, two three and outs, you guys threw it five times, ran it once. Did you say anything, did you have any say about the stick it in Benny’s gut on that last drive?
MARK STOOPS: I didn’t say a word. I didn’t want to get in the way and handcuff them in any way or get them thinking about that. I was barely on the offensive headset tonight. I had a lot of confidence in them. And in between when we were struggling, I did say in between series, we talked about maybe we need to just get in 10 and open it up and throw it around, or run and throw. And I think we did try on that series and it didn’t work. But on the last drive I just simply said just let’s just be us. Put a drive together. We had some really great drives in the first half keeping them off balance and mixing in the run and the pass and we hit some big runs that kind of got it moving and started that drive.
- How big was it just to hold them to field goals after those fumbles?
MARK STOOPS: It was real big. It was big for our defense to step up and we got some huge stops and they missed one, which was big. But it really was a gutsy performance, because at one point, you know, they had so many plays in the first half, I think they ended up with almost 80 anyway. And I think they had 40 at half and I could tell that we were on there a lot. Like I talked about opportunities, drives, and they were moving it. But we settled in and started tackling and were more efficient in the second half defensively.
- What does it say about your kids, you guys lose the turnover battle four to nothing, but still come up with a win. Have you ever been a part of a team that lost it in that kind of a way and still won?
MARK STOOPS: No, I don’t think so. I don’t know. How many teams win in the SEC down four? Not very often.
- You talked so much about making plays. Talk about Tavin Richardson and those two plays he made.
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, just, I’ll be honest with you. When I saw it live, I didn’t know if he was in. I saw the replay and I mean unbelievable catch and it was obviously huge in that moment. That would have been what, third and 10 if I’m not mistaken if he doesn’t convert that. So it was a big catch. And we were a bit off there for awhile in the second half, obviously. A few drops popped up today, but we made competitive plays and I’m proud of them when it counted.
- What would you think of 150 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties?
MARK STOOPS: I haven’t seen anything like that either. We tried to tell them, I mean, it’s about playing the game, between the white lines and I think the officials did a good job because once it started early, they were putting their thumb on it. So that’s why it was called so close and I can’t argue with that. It’s a big rivalry game and we had, it got really chippy in the Florida game like that as well and they had to put their thumb on it. So I think they did a good job of, and our players, I got to coach that better, we got to be better and handle our emotions better. We talked about it the last time we were in this environment with Florida or other big games and just finding a way to win at the end and I’m proud of that, but we definitely got to get some of those penalties back.
- When your defense is on the field a lot it’s hard to make the impact plays, but they had seven sacks, tackles for loss, what do you credit that to and how much did that impact the game?
MARK STOOPS: It did impact the game quite a bit and early you could tell even with some of the run game and some of what they went back to I figured that they would because they had good success with it a year ago and some of the things on the perimeter and getting us in space and making some of our big guys, the gaps were very big and they were getting on the edges and doing some things, that was hurting us. Coach House did a really nice job making some adjustments, getting some things fixed at half and we started playing cleaner and a little more aggressive in certain cases and mixing it up on them and I think that the guys played harder and fed off the big plays as well.
- You got some seasons where you’re going down to the wire looking for that sixth win, is there an element of maybe taking pressure off the guys when they got four to go and you’re already there, you’re at the bowl?
MARK STOOPS: You know, I heard a couple players as we were just celebrating talking in there talking about, hey, we’re going bowling, and we didn’t even really address it because we felt hopefully we have moved beyond that and we don’t take anything for granted but we know we need to win six plus and I don’t know, to be honest with you I think last year when we got the sixth win and we went and played on the road and the last game I think it freed us up a bit, so I hope we want more than that, we want to take them all one game at a time but I hope our mindset stay that is we want to go get the next one and we’ll worry about the one after that after next week.
- Now just the fact that now your program has a foundation of two bowl games in a row, after where you started, just talk about what that means to you.
MARK STOOPS: It means an awful lot. Let’s not kid ourselves, we know — just take a look around, look at our league and look at the pressure that coaches are under and teams and the players feel that and it means a lot. Our players have, we haven’t been perfect in any way, coaching or playing, but they haven’t flinched and they stay united and it’s a very good group and we have got a long way to go. We made a lot of mistakes and all that, but they’re a fun group to coach and I think it does mean a lot, especially this weekend, Coach Brooks back here and all the bowl teams and the bowl victors and coach told me, he’s like, get this one. He said, I was never able to get Tennessee and it was important for him for us to get that and for to win and for all the ex-players that are here and build our tradition and it’s important to me and these players, we’re very prideful when they came back and Coach Brooks talked to the team and Randall Cobb came and talked to the team and seeing Wesley (Woodyard) here and I saw Avery (Williamson) earlier today and just all the players that are back, it means a lot and we want to keep on winning and we do it for them as much as the fans and everybody else in the program.
- After your press conference on the field, you headed back the other way going towards Tennessee’s locker room …
MARK STOOPS: I was just looking for one of the guys on their staff that I had worked with. He was waiting for me, but they had to get in, so I just wanted to say hello to him.
- Jordan had 13 tackles, but there was a period there in the first half when he kind of went off and got away from the defense, was he just in there resting and meditating?
MARK STOOPS: No, they were checking him out.
- Some kind of injury?
MARK STOOPS: Well, I mean, they were checking him out, so I mean, yeah, yeah, they were, so I don’t know, I really get so caught up in the coaching the game when he’s out, they’re out, when they’re in, they’re in. You can tell there’s a bunch of guys shuffled in and out of there today and getting banged up. But he came back and I just saw him show up back out there and I liked it.
- You mentioned Coach Brooks never was able to beat Tennessee, there have been a lot of good Kentucky coaches who haven’t done it. What does this mean to you personally?
MARK STOOPS: It means a lot to me personally because I care about our fan base and what they’re feeling and some of their frustration over the years and so it is important, I never denied that. I care and I want to win and I want people to be proud of what we’re doing and proud of the product that’s on the field and there’s been a lot of frustration, a lot of years there that we weren’t able to get those guys, so it’s important to us.
- Did you know a performance like this was coming from Benny at some point this year?
MARK STOOPS: I did, I did. I felt like it’s a group effort and I went in and yeah, we went in and had a good meeting and I went in individually with the offensive line meeting room and told them that we need to put it all together, along with the backs and the thing is, is we have to have an identity to do that and it starts with the offensive line and most of the time the pulse of your football team a lot of times comes from the offensive line and their mentality and the way they play and they stepped up.
- The play that sticks out the most to me in this ball game was the touchdown Stephen Johnson had at the very end of the ball game. It’s probably the gutsiest play I’ve ever seen a Kentucky quarterback ever have and he might go down in history as the gutsiest quarterback in Kentucky history. Did you say anything to him after that play or in the locker room after the game about that?
MARK STOOPS: We were just busy with the group, but just gave him a hug and you admire his effort, you really do. I think we all do. Like I said, I don’t know how many people would have played through that, let alone go in and do what he did and pull the ball and run it and running and diving and doing whatever he has to do, I can’t say enough about him and his determination and what he does for us.
- Does the injury have any lingering affect?
MARK STOOPS: It could, it could. It’s an injury that’s painful that players — luckily it’s on his non-throwing shoulder, so but it’s not anything that he shouldn’t be out therefore this week.
#15 Stephen Johnson, QB
On his thoughts on the game…
“I’m just proud of this team. Even though we turned the ball over a few times, we kept on fighting.”
On his touchdown run with 33 seconds to go…
“We just knew the whole game they had the end squeezing. So I mean, as soon as I saw the linebacker squeeze too, I knew I’d have an outside run. I mean yeah, I just tried to get in there and did.”
On whether there was ever a question if he would come back into the game…
“Oh, not at all. I told him on the sideline to just get me in there to see what’s wrong and get me right back out. I mean, I definitely was going to continue playing this game.”
On Tavin Richardson’s stretching catch…
“Oh, I mean yeah, that was just super athletic. You know, very, very athletic of him. I mean, he actually got both feet down it looked like. So, I’m just really proud of him. It was huge. I don’t know what was, second or third down? But I mean, we definitely needed that catch to just move the chains.”
On where this win ranks against some of the big wins from previous years…
“This one comes close. It really means a lot just to get us to six wins and to keep moving down the line in our conference and in our schedule. I mean, we have to keep going up from here basically.”
On the guts he had to come back into the game…
“Oh, I will always play if I can play. That’s just no question, so I mean as soon as I kind of went down and I told him to figure out what’s wrong and send me back in.”
On whether he could hear the crowd cheering when he was coming back out of the tunnel…
“Oh yeah, that just gave me a little more life too. It really warms your heart you know when you come on the field and you have all of BBN screaming and shouting. They’re just really excited for you, and I mean it was a very, very happy moment.”
#41 Josh Allen, LB
On Stephen Johnson not looking like a typical quarterback…
“He’s a dog. Stephen is a dog. For him to go down, come back and win us the game… He’s a dog and I respect him for that. We’re an image of him. I can tell you that. For him to leave, come back, drive down the field and then score a touchdown… He just has it in him. That’s what we see and that encouraged us on the defensive end. We had to make big stops for him and for history.”
On the defense’s mindset when put in tough situations tonight…
“We knew what we had to do and that there would be some ups and downs. The offense knew we had their back, so we just had to play for them and Kentucky and that’s what we did. We have their back.”
On how important of a game this was…
“This was a big win for us after coming back from a blowout to winning this game. Our confidence is way back to where it started at the beginning of the season. We just have to keep pushing.”
On whether he feels relieved after becoming bowl eligible with four games still remaining…
“Being bowl eligible now just pushes us to go harder. We don’t want to go to a low bowl game, we want to go to the high bowl games. Now that we’re here, we just have to play as hard as we can to get to the SEC championship or just make it to a really good bowl game.”
On what fueled their confidence this week…
“We know that we are a better team than what happened in the last game. We knew we had to execute better and when we took on practice, we put all 100 [percent] in it. This week, we’re going to take it the same way. We’re not slipping anymore, it’s just up from here.”
#35 Denzil Ware, DE
On being a little banged up through this game…
“We have to go all out just to win. Every game is going to be a close game, a tight game, and we have to do whatever it takes to win. Even if we have to play through injuries, play a little banged up.
On Stephen Johnson giving the team a chance to win…
“I believe we have a chance with any quarterback that we play. Stephen is just fan favorite. He’s a crowd favorite. He earned his job to be in the position that he’s at. When you’re a starter and something bad happens like that and you come back in and do the things you do, of course the fans are going to be happy. You know, at the end of the day, I have faith in any guy under the center. It can be Sahiem King, I have faith. I believe in my teammates and I trust my team. At the end of the day I’m glad that he’s alright, but I have faith in any quarterback.”
On Stephens’s toughness to get that last touchdown and what it says to him about Stephen…
“It lets me know he’s a warrior. Stephen had a rough life. He overcame a lot of things to get to where he’s at now. I’ve seen him come from the bottom to the top. I see him lay it out on the line. That pushes other guys on the team, that pushes people out on the streets, that motivates other people just to see the things he overcame. He’s a great role model, he’s a great leader on this team and at the end of the day he’s just a tough guy. I see him run and hit up with linebackers, knowing he doesn’t have a chance, he just lays it all out on the line and you can’t ask for anything better than that.”
#7 Mike Edwards, S
On the defense overall…
“We have the offense’s back. We just have to regroup and come on the field and help the offense out and turn the ball over. They expect us to get stops and not give that many points up, so that’s what we did.”
On the very last play…
“It was bad ball judgment by me. I had ran up and I had misjudged the ball and he had caught the ball. Luckily somebody was able to get him down, but it was tough.”
On playing after first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty…
“We didn’t think about it much afterwards. It was just a good rivalry game. We were out there to fight for our team and so where they.”
On takeaways from Coach Brooks and Randall Cobb…
“They always wanted to beat Tennessee and they wanted us to beat Tennessee. They had good words for us and they both said a good speech before the game. We took that and put it all out on the field and got the win.”
On being a part of turning this program around…
“It’s big time. That’s really why I came here, to turn the program around and I feel like that’s what we’re doing step by step. Each year we are getting better and I feel like we’re on the right path to success. Both sides of the ball were playing pretty good and we’ve got to pick it up even better and give it more.”
#26 Benny Snell Jr., RB
On offensive improvements…
“I feel like after this week of practice our team was going to come out with an edge and some intensity.”
On Coach Stoops talking to offensive linemen about Benny…
“I didn’t know he did that, but I knew going into the week of practice how well the linemen were doing that when it was game time it was just going to be easy.”
On Stephen coming back into the game after being hurt…
“Stephen’s a fighter. He’s just a tough guy. It was a run play, he made the right read, he pulled it, sacrificed his body, jumped in there and got an amazing touchdown. I’m glad that he was able to execute.”
On his mindset going into the last drive…
“As a team at the point when Stephen got hurt and came back, we just got together and decided that we’ve been in this situation before and we know what we can do. So everyone just stayed calm and we went out there to give it all we had.”
On having good energy from the start…
“I turned up. I know the team last week wasn’t us. That wasn’t Kentucky football. We didn’t have anything to prove or anything like that, but we were at home, it was an SEC opponent, so we just had to come out with that fire. The last game wasn’t us and that’s behind us, but we knew we had to get back.”
On former players being here and the significance of the victory…
“Randall Cobb spoke to us during the week and one of the coaches. They gave us so much energy and so much hope and all the guys that came back just said that they wanted to beat Tennessee. They never did it and they wanted them beat, so we made it happen.”
Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones
“OK. I think the first thing when you look at it, we didn’t capitalize on our turnovers. We were able to generate four turnovers and only get six points off of it. We weren’t able to capitalize on our great field position, missed two field goals. You know, lead in time of procession, controlled the ball, you know, couldn’t stop the quarterback at the end of the game on the zone read, and didn’t make the plays that we needed to at the end. But, you know, nine penalties is inexcusable. That’s on myself and that’s everyone taking responsibility and accountability. We talk about details and accountability and toughness, it starts with me. It starts with our coaching staff, and it’s everyone in our organization, but it all falls on my shoulders. Again, I thought we did a good job defensively, taking the ball away, but we weren’t able to capitalize on that. Couldn’t capitalize on field position. Didn’t make the plays that we needed to down the stretch.”
“Well, we always talk about turnover margin and that’s the greatest indicator of wins and losses. You know, our defense did a really good job of taking the football away, but then it’s complimentary football. It’s what do you do with the football once you get it. And to come away with six points is inexcusable, it’s unacceptable.”
On the explanation on the field when every player received penalty …
“Yeah, I guess ‘cause it happened early in the game, so they said if you get an unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s just going to be an automatic dismissal. So, that happened I want to say in the early stages of the game on kickoff. So again, we have to be poised and we have to make good decisions and you know, we have to be disciplined and not let ourselves get into those types of situations.”
On putting the quarterback on the center at the one yard line…
“Just something we wanted to get on center that’s always been in. We liked what we had in terms of numbers, angles and grass and the leverage that we had. You know, we’re two-for-two. You know, I thought our running backs really stepped up. I thought all three running backs really did a great job. I was really proud of them. Ty Chandler, Carlin Fild-aime, Tim Jordan, I thought all three of these individuals ran exceptionally hard tonight.”
On importance of Ty Chandler tonight …
“It was important and we’ve seen it and we said we need to get him more touches and you know, again, our margin of error is very small. And again, we have a touchdown taken off the board, which can’t happen. You know, all of those things are cumulative over an entire game.”
On the unsportsmanlike penalty affecting the play tonight …
“I don’t know, I’ll go back and I’ll watch the video and we’ll do our due diligence. It doesn’t matter, you know, it’s not going to help you in terms of moving forward in terms of the game. There’ll be tremendous teach points, but I want to see from the video of what exactly went on.”
On this team, the locker room and health of program …
“Well, I think all you got to do is look. Was that a team that quit? No. That wasn’t a team that had given up. No, that team hung together and that team battled and I think it is a testament to them, but again we are making way too many mistakes in critical stages of the game. This team has not given up. It’s very important. There’s a lot of pride in that room, there’s a lot of pride in this coaching staff of getting back to a bowl game. That’s what we want for our fans, that’s what we want for our football program. It’s one of those years, I’ve never been through this in 30-plus years with how many games have come down to the wire. You just got to keep grinding. There’s still a lot of football left to be played and I know it’s kind of become redundant, but that’s the truth. This football team had a very, very good week of preparation. I thought they were mentally and physically ready to play tonight. Again, it comes down to two to three plays that make the difference.”
On difference in those two to three plays …
“I think there’s a lot of difference. I think, first of all, we can’t beat ourselves. The penalties are inexcusable. You have [the ball] on a one-yard line, and all of a sudden we have a pre-snap penalty. Pre-snap penalties are catastrophic. Can’t have it. Cannot have it. You know, I don’t know what else to tell you. You know, being able to run the ball effectively in the second half, especially when you need to. You know, things like that, that you can point to throughout the course of the game.”
On what to attribute penalties to…
“You know, every situation is different in and of itself. It’s something we talk about in everything we do in our program. We take great pride in it, and we’ll continue to work it.”
On having support going forward with regular season …
On shuffled offensive line …
“I’ll know a little bit more, but those kids battled and we didn’t have very many on the trip. I get it, but when you talk about the state of the program, you got guys that are laying it on the line for this program, that doesn’t go unnoticed because of the other things. But I give those kids credit because they battled.”
On coaching for your job …
“Nah, I coach for my job every single day. That hasn’t changed since the minute I walked in here year one. That’s always the mindset that I’ve had. ”
On frustration level as head coach …
“I believe in our kids. I believe in our program. I believe in what we’re recruiting and its one of those years and the only way I know is to keep working and driving. I will tell you this, there’s nobody who takes more ownership in this football program than Butch Jones. I can assure you that because I take it personal. I want to win for our fans, I want to win for our players, I want to win for everyone, but you just got to keep battling and lessons and move forward.”
#39 Kendal Vickers, DL
On their mindset on the last drive of the game…
“Yeah, at the end of the day we wanted it to be on the defense’s shoulders. We wanted to be in that position. If I had to do it over again, I would want to be in that same position we were in. We didn’t execute the last drive, and we paid for it.”
On communication involving all players receiving unsportsmanlike conduct…
“Yeah, at halftime they said that. During the game, I know it happened kind of early, I didn’t realize that that was the case until halftime. Coach had come in the locker room and told us that we can’t have any unsportsmanlike penalties.”
On how they are feeling still being win in the SEC…
“Very frustrated. The guys in the locker room are frustrated, but they’re going to keep working and keep going. All we know is work. That’s all you can do at this point: keep working, keep going in every week and keep grinding. That’s all you can do.”
On what forced the turnovers tonight…
“We just wanted to be physical. We put our face on the ball. I know we watched film all week, we felt like we can get some turnovers and some fumbles being physical. I feel like as a defense we were pretty physical for the most part.”
#82 Ethan Wolf, TE
On personal health during tonight’s game…
“I had a little injury in the UMASS game and have been kind of recovering from that. It’s progressing and getting better and better each week. I’m just staying in rehab and getting it back to normal. I feel great right now.”
On missing some seniors tonight and how that affected leadership…
“I wouldn’t say alone. You know, obviously those are some senior leaders, and you know John [Kelly]’s a team captain. It definitely hurts to not have some of those guys in the locker room. I mean, I just saw tonight we had some young guys step up and make some plays that we needed in a crucial time, and we’re going to continue to need more out of those guys and continue to demand accountability and leadership out of the rest of the seniors and juniors. I was talking to the tight ends today after the game – freshman, sophomore, junior, I don’t care who says what as long as you’re trying to lead. Me and the other seniors are going to have your back and help you hold others accountable because we can’t do it by ourselves.”
#2 Jarrett Guarantano, QB
On how he feels about his missed opportunities …
“Just got to capitalize. There was opportunities where we needed to score. I missed a big throw. I went a little high with it, and we throw that every single day and I make that throw every single day. I missed it today, and it hurts. It hurts me because I know what I can do and how I can play, but there’s missed opportunities. There’s mental errors and we just got to continue to get better.”
On his confidence in leading the team while they have yet to win a conference game…
“Talked about it last night to the team. I just stood up and said, ‘Listen, I’m 0-2. As a quarterback, my job is to win games and I’m 0-2. I’ve failed you guys.’ I thought today was going to be the day, and it wasn’t the day. I’m going in 0-3 again and we have another week. We have Southern Miss and then we have another three games. I’ve got to end on the right note and continue to play ball.”
On how personally he takes conference games …
“It’s SEC games. I want to win for my coach. I want to win for the guys around me. I just take a lot of ownership just being the quarterback, just being a quarterback at the University of Tennessee. And I just expect so much out of myself. I just want to play great every single time, every opportunity that I get. When we lose I definitely feel it, and when we win I’m definitely going to feel that. So I’ve just got to take it for what it’s worth.”
#53 Colton Jumper, LB
On who is usually responsible for containment of the quarterback…
“It depends on the coverage. I can’t remember what coverage we were on, so I can’t really talk about whose guy that was. It depends on if we’re blitzing, depends on the coverage, just various things, if we’re starting the line. So it’s never just one single guy that has the quarterback for that.”
On the unsportsmanlike conduct call in the first half…
“That’s something new to me. I’d never heard about that, but it’s just something you’ve got to have in the back of your mind and you’ve just got to stay composed.”