"I love it. I love it. Let's go," said the Wildcats' second-year head coach.
Suddenly, Kentucky (5-1, 2-1 SEC) has become one of the biggest surprise stories in the college football season.
"We knew we had an opportunity (to be a good team)," Stoops said. "I felt like we had a good team. I didn't know for sure. We had to go prove it and see what we could do, but I felt like we had some pieces in place.
"We haven't been perfect, but we've been doing the things necessary to put ourselves in position for this."
It wasn't always pretty Saturday against a ULM squad accustomed to battling SEC teams on the road. Kentucky fell behind 14-3 in the first quarter, but the Cats got rolling in the second frame and never looked back.
UK quarterback Patrick Towles completed 16 of 28 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns, two going to Blue, who had three receptions for 109 yards. The Cats also got a big play in the running game from Stanley "Boom" Williams, who raced for a 58-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.The Warhawksn(3-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) got a pair of touchdown passes from Pete Thomas in the first quarter, a 12-yard strike to Ajalen Holley and a 9-yard pass to Kenzee Jackson, but could not overcome the adjustments made by the UK defense the rest of the afternoon.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highlights:
WHAT WE LIKED:
Kentucky has been resilient all season, never flinching despite falling behind by two scores or more. You don't want to make a habit of it, but it's a good quality to have. The Cats trailed South Carolina by 14 points in the fourth quarter, but scored 21 unanswered points to win the game. Today, it was 45 unanswered. That shows the staff is making quality adjustments and the players don't seem to dwell on mistakes, rather just play the next play.
Senior defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree looked like one of the elite players in college football, posting five tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. He also had a pass break-up, a quarterback hurry and a blocked field goal in the second quarter when ULM could have gone up 17-3. With his sacks, Dupree moved into a tie for second place on UK's all-time sacks list (19) with Dennis Johnson.
STAT OF THE DAY:
The Kentucky defense posted its second and third interception returns for touchdowns of the season and now has four defensive scoring plays this season. The Cats have as many "Pick 6s" in six games as they had total interceptions last year. It was the first time since a 1986 game against Cincinnati that UK had returned two interceptions for TDs in the same game.
"We'd love to go out there and start fast all the time, but sometimes we don't. I think it does show some maturity of hanging in there when things don't go well. Keep on battling, believing in each other and believing in what we can do on both sides of the ball and special teams. Fight back when we have to and get ahead." -- UK head coach Mark Stoops
The Cats head to Baton Rogue for a matchup with the LSU Tigers, beginning a tough stretch of SEC games that also includes Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee. The Tigers a struggling a bit this season -- by LSU's lofty standards -- but Death Valley remains one of the tougher venues in the country for visiting teams. It will be a true test to see just how far these Cats have come.