December 01, 2013
Mark Stoops was asked, after the finality of his first season as Kentucky head coach had set in with a loss to Tennessee, how his team had improved since the beginning of the year.
"I know we're progressing," Stoops said. "It's hard for me to define that exactly."
Perhaps that's because it's hard to find any areas where Kentucky made concrete improvement.
The records (2-10, 0-8 SEC) were identical to the year before. And taking a deeper dive into the statistics reveals this: UK was slightly better on offense, and slightly worse on defense.
Here's a full chart of Kentucky stats from 2012 to 2013 (note that positive integers in the difference column means improvement, not necessarily a higher number in the latter year).
Perhaps most jarring is just how far UK's offense fell short of being what Neal Brown stated as his preseason goals.
He wanted 75 plays or more per game, and the offense actually took a dip in terms of plays per game.
He wanted a 40 percent conversion rate on third downs, and fell well below that (as well as well below last year's mark).
And very striking is that UK didn't improve from the beginning of the year, when some difficulties were expected, to the beginning of the year.
"I'm disappointed in our offensive output this year," Brown said. "I think our fans are disappointed. I understand that. What I can tell them is good news is, all the guys that made plays tonight will be back."
That goes for defense, too, where opponents sliced open Stoops' defense even easier (statistically speaking) than Rick Minter's defense last year. Teams had much more success both passing and running.
So Year One wasn't what Stoops wanted. He still sounded confident that things looked optimistic for the future.
"We know that we are laying a foundation in our program," Stoops said, "and everybody in that locker room knows that we are going to get back to work here real soon, like Monday, and be ready to go and push forward for the future."