Mark Stoops of Kentucky had some eye-opening comments after losing 16-6 to Georgia

Mark Stoops knew his Kentucky team gave it all against No. 1 Georgia on Saturday.

But the 10th-year SEC head coach also knew that the best Wildcats team wouldn’t be good enough without some luck, and that proved to be the case in their 16-6 loss at home to the Bulldogs.

“They’re the number one team in the country for a reason, they’ve worked very hard across the board, and they’re a complete football team,” Stoops said.

“Just people watching, I’d be hard-pressed to find a team that’s better than that across the board.”

Related: How Georgia’s running game and defense turned out big in frigid Kentucky

Georgia’s defense came big in the first half, stopping Chris Rodriguez on fourth-and-1 at the UGA 31, then catching a Will Levis touchdown pass at the 2-yard line.

The Wildcats were down 16-0 and Georgia was threatening to add another score when Kentucky stopped Kendall Melton at the 1-yard line on fourth down.

The momentum carried over to the offense, which ran the length of the field and cut Georgia’s lead to 16-6.

“We had a great 99-yard drive and a great fourth down,” Stoops said. “He has shown some courage, determination and personality in the way we play.”

Holding Georgia to just 16 points and shutting out elite ends Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs was no easy feat.

“This is a physical, creative football team with their dynamic tight ends and running game, and the way they make explosive runs and score touchdowns,” Stoops said.

“I thought our guys competed and played tough. It was good coaching and good schemes by Brad (White), but in the end the guys showed some courage and determination in the short-yard games against one of, if not the most physical team in the country.”

Stoops was also pleased with Kentucky’s big plays, as Levi’s showed why he was an NFL first-round selection by connecting on passes of 47, 42 and 31 yards.

“You have to be careful, you know, on the running back, the way these guys can rush and press and force your quarterback, so you have to pick your positions,” Stoops said.

“Finally we made some big plays. We had that setup at the right time, the right moment, got protection and good throws and hit them, and one hit as well.”

As much as teams have to be careful, Stoops said, it’s hard to score points on Kirby Smart defenses without risking some chances.

“We had our shots and we hit some, and that gave us an opportunity,” Stoops said, “because you have to have a defense like that, because to grind it down 3, 4, 5 yards at a time, get tough, so you have to try and make some explosive.”

But despite all the good things and positive efforts, it was Kentucky’s 13th consecutive loss to Georgia.

“We transcend moral victories; we come to compete and win every game,” Stoops said. “But as I told the players, the score is the score. Sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t.”

And the Wildcats (6-5, 3-5) wrapped up their season at home against rival Louisville next Saturday.


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