KENTUCKY POSTGAME NOTES
Kentucky at Alabama – Bryant-Denny Stadium; Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Oct. 1, 2016
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 2-3, 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference. No. 1 Alabama is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC.
- Alabama leads the all-time series in games played, 37-2-1, including a 9-0 mark in games played in Tuscaloosa.
- Kentucky will return to action Sat. Oct. 8, playing at Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and broadcast on the UK Sports Radio Network.
Kentucky Team Notes
- UK’s game captains were senior center Jon Toth, junior wide receiver Jeff Badet, junior linebacker Courtney Love and senior defensive lineman Courtney Miggins.
- Kentucky scored on its opening possession for the first time this season, concluding with Austin MacGinnis’ 45-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
- With De’Niro Laster’s fumble recovery in the first quarter the Wildcats have now forced a turnover in 10 of their past 11 games.
- Kentucky rushed for 72 yards, more than the 67.5 yards per game Alabama’s defense had allowed entering the game, which ranked it No. 5 nationally.
- Kentucky held Alabama to a season-low 34 points. The Crimson Tide’s previous low was 38 versus Western Kentucky on Sept. 10.
Kentucky Player Notes
- Freshman punter Grant McKinniss boomed a career-long 61-yard punt in the second quarter. His previous long was 53 yards against both Florida and South Carolina. He is now averaging 41.8 yards per punt on the season. For the game, McKinniss averaged 44.7 yards on six punts, besting his previous high average of 43.4 versus Florida on Sept. 8.
- Junior kicker Austin MacGinnis had eight points in the game, including field goals of 45 and 30 yards.
- MacGinnis now has 190 career points and continues to rank seventh all-time on UK’s career scoring list.
- MacGinnis needs two more points to tie Craig Yeast for sixth all-time at Kentucky.
- Junior defensive end/linebacker De’Niro Laster recovered a fumble in the first quarter, the first fumble recovery of his UK career. He also recorded the first sack of his career in the third quarter. He now has 14.0 tackles, 1.0 sack and 2.0 tackles for loss this season.
- Redshirt freshman linebacker Eli Brown saw his most extensive action of season, registering a career-high 7.0 tackles in the game. Brown came into the game with 5.0 tackles on the season and a previous game-high of 2.0 set against both Florida and New Mexico State.
- Senior center Jon Toth started his 40th consecutive game for the Wildcats. Toth, along with senior defensive back J.D. Harmon and senior wide receiver Ryan Timmons, have each played a team-high 41 games in their career.
- Sophomore safety Mike Edwards led the Wildcats with 12 tackles in the game, tying his career high set against New Mexico State on Sept. 17. He ranks second in tackles on the season with 43.
- Senior running back Jojo Kemp led the Wildcats with 39 yards rushing on 10 attempts. He now has 1,435 career rushing yards, good for 21st on the school’s career rushing list. He needs 13 yards to equal Bobby Cravens (1956-58) for 20th.
Alabama Football vs. Kentucky – Postgame Quotes
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“I thought that we executed a little bit better in the second half. I thought we were a little bit sloppy in the first half. Our quarterback (Jalen Hurts) struggled a little bit, especially in the passing game. I thought we ran the ball effectively.
“Defensively, we played pretty well. We got some sacks and turnovers, and we scored on defense. All in all, I think that it’s a good win for us. I knew this would be a tough game, as I said to many people all week. Kentucky has got a much better team than what everybody gives them credit for, especially in the last couple weeks, when they’ve sort of been trying to run the ball and do what they can do very well. Their defense has played a lot better, and I think that was certainly the case today. So you’ve got to give them a little bit of credit. You’ve got to give Mark (Stoops) a lot of credit for bringing his team back that way so that they’re playing hard and actually playing a lot better.
“I was pleased with the way our guys came out in the second half and played. I challenged them a little bit at halftime. I didn’t think we imposed our will in the first half like we could’ve, or should’ve, or wanted to, however you want to say it. I thought we did a much better job in the second half. We left some points out there by not finishing some drives in the red area. There are lots of things that we can improve on and there are lots of things to correct. There are certainly a lot of lessons to be learned in this game. We’ll be anxious to make those improvements this week.”
On the forced fumble touchdown return:
“We wanted to attack the ball, especially on the quarterback. I thought he was a little loose with the ball. I thought the players did a good job of noticing that today, and that was certainly a big play in the game because we were struggling a little bit on offense. The score was 10-3 and they were hanging in the game, so that was a big momentum swing for us. That’s what we work on – trying to strip the ball out – every day in practice, and that will be something that we can show the other players. When you do it correctly you certainly have a chance to get the kind of consequences that you like and get the ball out.”
On Joshua Jacobs’ performance:
“Josh [Jacobs] is really playing well. He’s done a nice job for us. We have a lot of confidence in [Josh Jacobs] and we have a lot of confidence in Damien Harris, who has played extremely well for us all year long. He was coming off of a little bit of a high ankle sprain and wasn’t able to practice much this week. He was okay and cleared to play in the game, but we decided that we would just spot play him and use him in third down [situations]. That gave Josh [Jacobs] a little more of an opportunity and he took advantage of it and did a great job.”
#3 Calvin Ridley, WR
On the flow that the offense seems to be getting into: “We just come to practice, and that’s where we get it from. We have to get better and keep working. When that happens, I think we will be unstoppable.”
On how clean the offense has been:
“We are starting to learn better. Jalen (Hurts) is starting to set up the offense as far as who is where and how things are going to be, so that’s helped us a lot.”
#32 Rashaan Evans, LB
On the mentality of forcing turnovers:
“This game, just like every other game, we were trying to force turnovers. That’s exactly what happened.”
On how the defense looked like it was hungry: “We try to do that every week because our competition is getting better and better with every game. That’s kind of how we approached this game.”
Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops
“You know, I felt like we did some better things in this game. The bad thing is, we’re still capable of so much more and that’s what aggravates you. I definitely feel like we grew. Talking about improvement and growing as a team, you know, I think we did that in certain phases and maybe took a step back in others, but we’ll keep on working. That’s a quality football team (Alabama) in a hostile environment. We started the game much better than the last time we were in this situation. We had a chance to do some good things and go up by at least six and we gave up the turnover there early. That we can’t do. They have a lot to do with that, by covering people and putting a lot of pressure on you with their front four. Again, we’ll give them credit. We need to get some first downs. I thought, defensively, we had some good stops. They’re always going to be a lot to handle. We weren’t efficient enough on third down. They were, on both sides of the ball, and that’s where the game’s going to get won and lost. Again, I feel like we did some better things and we’ll continue to improve. I’m looking forward to getting back to work. I told the team we’ll get back late tonight and tomorrow they’ve got to get their rest and their treatment. We’ve got to get back to work on Monday before we have an off-week. We’ve got to put a lot into this next week to try to get to .500.”
On quarterback Stephen Johnson:
“Well we just got to keep on coaching like we’re doing. Reps help with Stephen – we talked all week about not being back there dancing around with the ball. You’ve got to make quick decisions and we certainly need to protect the ball. We talked about it all week, about how many touchdowns (Alabama) scores non-offensively. At that point (Kentucky first turnover) we were just hanging in the game, playing some good defense, but you can’t turn it over. I think with Stephen it takes some more reps and some more experience.
On message going forward:
“I’m worried about the next one honestly, that’s what I just told them. We are a late show, and we will get back late tonight. Our players have to do their part to get treatment and to get rest. Tomorrow we have to get back to work and have a great Monday.”
#26 Benny Snell, RB
On specific game situation: “It’s in the coaches’ hands. We all stay prepared so it’s not really a game plan. We know when we’re going in.”
On amount of carries between first and second half: “It’s just the flow of the game. I expect to get the ball whenever my number is called and that’s all I can do.”
#15 Stephen Johnson, Quarterback
On today’s fumbles and protecting the ball: “I was just trying to make something happen and I didn’t hold the ball like I should. It ended up coming out those three times. That is something that I for sure need to work on this upcoming week.”
On balancing trying to extend plays and throwing the ball away or taking a sack:
“This week there was definitely an emphasis on how Alabama is a great team with a lot of speed. There was a main point of emphasis to get the ball out as quickly as possible and not trying to make too many great plays. They (Alabama) have great athletes on that side of the ball (defense) and that was one thing that I didn’t obviously focus on this week. I need to get better at that this upcoming week.”