Q: What did you see on the missed field goal? "We missed the field goal."
Q: Any particular reason? "We missed the field goal."
Q: Were special teams the difference today? "Well, a missed extra point, a missed field goal. In a close ball game like that, you can't have that."
Q: In the fourth quarter it seemed you had to go the length of the field every time? "Well, we were moving the ball well. We missed some opportunities, we had some guys, it was just a little bit off. We did some good things passing the ball but we did miss some opportunities. We had Aubrey Bell open early, I don't think Tyson (Lee) saw him; Brandon (McRae) was close on one of those catches, just a little bit, he couldn't quite get his body around. I thought Brandon Henderson played an excellent game because he was definitely hurt, we asked if he needed to come out but he made a lot of big plays for us today. He's really grown-up this year and I was pleased with him, he and Arnil Stallworth are two guys that have really made a lot of improvement over the year and helped us tremendously."
Q: Can you assess how Anthony Dixon played? "I thought he played pretty well, I thought he ran hard, he ran downhill a lot. They've got an excellent defensive front and it was obvious they were keying on him. And that's why we were able to throw the ball as well as were. There were a couple of times they busted a few coverages and left guys open; sometimes we made them and sometimes we didn't."
Q: There were two big penalties on that (Kentucky) third-quarter drive, how much did that hurt? "The one on Derek Pegues I thought was very debatable. I thought the ball was uncatchable, from what I saw on the jumbotron. He did a little tug on the jersey there but I thought the ball was already over his head when that happened. But that was just from where I was looking, I'm not disputing the call, I just have a different opinion."
Q: You talked of missed opportunities; with the 3-2 loss to Auburn, now this one-point loss, are those magnified? "Yeah. When we look at the film I promise you there's going to be eight or ten plays, and we just make one of them and we win the ball game. We've talked about a couple of them already. We make the field goal, we win the game. We make the extra point things are different. We get off the field on the third downs in their first drive of the second half, things are different. We come up a yard short on a couple of third downs. We make the fourth-and-one, things are different. But that's how close games are, and that's really the difference; making plays in critical situations. And we didn't do that, and they did."
Q: What was the difference in the two Kentucky scoring drives? "They ran the ball on us. They just ran the football on us. It wasn't anything passing-wise. And I thought coverage-wise we did a pretty good job for most of the day. But they decided they were going to run right at us. And that was very disappointing, they just ran the inside zone-read and knocked us off the football. That's what got them going, the ability to run the football."
Q: How disappointed were you that you guys couldn't run it there, because a couple of weeks ago you said you were going to be a running team? "I tell you what happened to us, they had nine guys at the line of scrimmage. And that's how we were able to do some things passing-game wise. They played a lot of one-on-one coverage and put nine guys in the box so when we were effective in running, it was when we were spreading them out and running the football. The thing about that, some of the things we ran—those inside-ride zones—then they tried to force the quarterback to have the ball. And we know Tyson is not a great runner, so we played cat-and-mouse with that. The thing they did do allowed us to throw the football. That's why we threw it as many times as we did. At times our guys came up with plays, and sometimes we didn't come up with the plays. Those are the ones we'll look at the film and go wow, when we didn't make them. It was the difference in the ball game."
Q: You've said you were proud of the fact this team hasn't fractured when it could, after close losses like these do you worry about that? "No. I think we have enough leadership. I think our guys have fought through enough now. They're hurt and disappointed because they prepared extremely well. And when we look at the film we're going to see guys were playing hard. The only part of the time I didn't think our intensity was there is the drive (for the go-ahead touchdown). We talked about how important that drive was, and I really think it was in that drive we had the third-down plays where we had the penalties and didn't get off the field. And in that drive I thought there was a little bit of, when thing were going against us and in our minds some questionable things that were going against us, they felt they were fighting an uphill battle. That's the reason I called a timeout, just to try to get some sense of calm back to our defense at that point. And we still weren't able to get off, Kentucky came out and took the ball down the field and made the plays."
"But then we came back, we got turnovers, our defense rallied, and I was very pleased with that. We get the ball down there, we've got a chance. We have a third down and lose yardage on it, we have a kick and we don't make it. We shouldn't have had to kick a field goal, it should have been a touchdown. We should have gotten the ball in the end zone, and instead of being able to get the play off we get a lost-yardage play there."
Q: Your pass protection really had its hands full. "No question. We did a lot of different things, sliding the line to make sure we had two guys picking them up. We even ended up leaving A.D. blocking the defensive end by himself so we could protect from the guys inside. But we've had problems protecting this year. You max-protect and get one guy out, which we did a couple of times, and we still got some pressure. And it compounds it a little bit when you get any kind of push in the pocket for us right now with Tyson's height, it's a problem because he can't see over the top of it. That makes him have to flush a little bit quicker than you'd like to sometimes."
Q: Kentucky was missing some players, did you miss exploiting that? "Well, we did. They changed some things, too, some people in their lineup. The reason Brandon Henderson got the ball so much was a large part the way we were attacking. Because we felt the guy covering him was going to be their weakest cover-guy. Even then they changed the guy that they'd had covering the tight end. We knew they would try to take Brandon McRae out and we found the one-on-one with the tight end. Almost every time we went to him, he was open."