Redshirt junior and graduate student Jan Johnson spoke to the media directly following the Citrus Bowl. He was asked about the decision late in the game to go for the field goal and then try to get a defensive stop.
“It was the coaches’ decision and I think it was a good choice. I think that we were stopping them pretty well, in that last quarter especially. I probably would have made the same choice.”
Johnson mentioned that the linebacker group was disappointed that Cam Brown, who left the game following a targeting penalty, was not on the field to try to get the stop on the final series.
“We knew that they were going to run the ball. We were trying to commit to just the run but we also had to look out, you know. It would be real easy for them to sneak the quarterback out on an RPO. We were trying to strip the ball and it just didn’t work out our way.”
Johnson summed up his feelings on the day.
Shareef Miller’s play on the field speaks volumes about the athleticism and tenacity that the big defensive end possesses as a football player. Unfortunately, he does not always speak with much volume in his voice. We were unable to get a good audio clip from Miller when he was asked about his intentions for next season.
Will he return to Happy Valley or try his luck in the NFL?
Miller replied, “I’m still in the moment. It’s kind of up in the air really, though, with this loss. I’m going to make my decision really soon, though.”
Blake Gillikin was asked to talk about the special teams struggles that the team experienced this year. “We had a lot of young guys playing this year. We lost a lot of veterans on special teams. So it takes a little while to kind of gel together and play well. As the year went on we started to clean stuff up, but it showed up again today.”
Gillikin spoke about the special teams play in the Citrus Bowl. “We struggled at times all year. That’s obvious, anyone can see that. Our job is to help the team win at the end of the day, and we didn’t do a very good job of that today.”
Tight end Nick Bowers spoke about the season that the team had and was optimistic about it. “I think start to finish we had a great season. I know that there were some bumps in the road. I think every team goes through that. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish. But we are excited for what’s ahead.”
There are many people in the fan base that agree with Bowers, in that the four-loss season was not what was hoped for but yet it was overall a successful campaign. Bowers talked about the process of completing the final game of the season, which also means that some players and friends will be moving on. His voice got filled with emotion when he spoke about not being able to hang out with some friends that he has made in recent years.
Safety Garrett Taylor will be a big part of the defense next season, likely starting alongside Lamont Wade. Taylor is a class act, like many of the young men that wear the blue and white. He first gave Kentucky the respect that they deserve.
“First of all I want to congratulate Kentucky. They’re a good team and they played hard. We played hard, too, obviously, but we had a few lapses here and there. But we fought to the very end and unfortunately I think we just ran out of time. The seniors that are on the team left it all out there.”
Speaking of some of the veterans, who completed their last game at Penn State, Taylor mentioned Trace McSorley, Amani Oruwariye, Nick Scott, and Koa Farmer and the legacy that they will leave.
Koa Farmer did not get the respect that he deserved outside of the locker room most of the time, from fans that didn’t understand what he brought to the team. There is no doubt that Farmer, a converted safety, did not have the stellar senior season on the field that he would have wanted. However, his leadership and knowledge helped many of the players, such as Taylor, who often get credit for their play. Players such as Taylor would be the first to point out the positive impact that Farmer had, and how it often transcended his play on the field.