“I’m proud of those seniors. They deserved this, they’ve been fighting, battling all year and we’ve come up on the short end of some close games. I’m really proud of them and happy for them to win this, and it’s great for the young kids in our program to see that. We’ve built a foundation on effort, relentless effort; on toughness, fighting, competing for four quarters. And I think they were rewarded today, to see that if you continue to fight to that final second you’re going to start coming out on top of games. So I’m really produ of all those guys and the way they played tonight.”
Q: Can you talk about Anthony Dixon’s record night? “Dixon had an unbelievable game. He set the school (game) record, 252 was that what it was? And we needed every single one of those 252 yards. He really came up big.
“When Arnil Stallworth was down with the (knee) injury, still a little dinged-up and got more dinged-up during the game on a couple of special teams plays; Christian Ducre getting hurt (note: strained knee ligaments), we’ll know more about that as we get into it but the doctors think he’ll be OK. But when those two went down, we’re kind of limited. We built so much on those senior tailbacks. And Anthony really stepped up and made a bunch of plays.”
Q: Talk of the change in Tyson Lee’s play from the first half to the second? “Tyson did a great job. Tyson gives us everything he has, he gives us everything he has. He works, he continues to battle and try to improve himself. That’s the thing for us, too. I know Tyson gets frustrated at times, but the key is to not get frustrated and to continue to learn, for us to continue to coach them. When you do that good things are going to happen. And you see the improvement.
“Again, I think Tyson did a decent job today. The interception on the fourth-down play, he’s trying to make a play and just didn’t get enough on it. And (there was) a little miss-communication on the route between him and Leon Berry, Tyson ended up being late on the throw. But you know what? It didn’t stop him. He came right over; they coached, they talked, they threw, it’s just the communication for all of us. And he continued to battle through the course of the game.”
Q: The deep throw to O’Neal Wilder had to help his confidence? “It was a huge boost to his confidence. And give our offensive line a lot of credit, we were able to run the football and they (Kentucky) were loading up the line of scrimmage. The fact that they were loading up the line of scrimmage gave us a couple of (chances) to play-action. We did a great job with a little play-action pass, O’Neal got behind them and Tyson…for all the other issues he has and you think he could take as step back and lose confidence, he stood in there to deliver the ball and made a great throw. And I think that was a huge play in the game because it was going back-and-forth and that gave us some momentum at that point.”
Q: How relieved were you on the final stop on fourth down? “I tell you what, give them some credit. They’ve got a true freshman quarterback leading them on a final drive down the field, he did a great job, made a couple of big plays on that drive. You know what, though? Our guys—Jamar Chaney and the seniors in that group, they’ve been around and they’ve seen a lot of football, they never flinched. At some point they were going to make their play, and we did on that fourth down play; they made their play. And it couldn’t have been a bigger one for us, for these seniors and for our football program.”
Q: Before that on the fourth-and-goal you were able to pressure their quarterback into an interception. “It was huge. We got some good pressure, and that was a big, big, big play in this game for Jamar to do that. It gave us a stop, it also give us field position where we could drive it right there and punt and try to pin them down at the other end of the field. Just huge.
“The turnover to start the second half was huge and that interception was huge for us.”
Q: Was there a moment in the game you realized you might rely on Dixon and him carry you? “Well, Anthony is an emotional leader. You watch the energy he brings at all times, at all times. He’s got a lot of fight in him and he wants to win. He came in this year his objective to find a way to lead this team to a bowl game. He seems to be crushing some records on the way to doing that, but I don’t think that goes past him. Whatever it takes to help this team win is what he’s done.
“And the way we were running the ball, the way our guys were competing up front, playing physical up front, I’m proud of our O-line. The way Anthony was running hard, we wanted to keep getting him the ball as much as he could take it.”
Q: Kentucky’s speed runners got to the edge some times but the defense made just enough stops. “Well, they’re heck of a players. I mean, looking at them; Cobb is a big-time football player to do it all for them out there on the field. And Locke, they’re big-time players. What I’m happy about, we were giving up some plays but we didn’t give up the big, the home-run. Even though it was kind of frustrating for me giving up plays, Locke’s longest run was 21 yards and Cobb’s longest run was 11 and longest catch was 20. When you don’t give up that home run play it gives you a chance to fight for another down and I was proud our guys continued to do that and the defensive staff did a good job to let that happen.”
Q: What is the schedule for the open week? “These guys have gone nine consecutive weeks, plus four weeks of preseason. That’s 13 straight weeks they’ve gone of having to deal with me on a daily basis. So we’ll do just treatments tomorrow and give them the day-off Monday. We’ll come back and practice Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday next week.”