WBN Roundtable: Kentucky Wildcat offense


On Thursday, a a panel of WBN writers and some of your favorite writers from other sites were asked about what they saw during Sunday’s game against Louisville.
September 2, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Maxwell Smith (11) tries to throw the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half of play at Papa John’s Stadium. Image Credit: Jamie Rhodes, US Presswire

What was one thing that really stood out for the Kentucky offense against Louisville and aside from defense, what can be improved upon?

Paul Jordan, WBN Founder Editor: I have to say that I was very impressed with the poise of Max Smith and the offensive line. Given time, Max is very effective and he literally picked the Cardinals to shreds. That said, I definitely want to see more of the long ball. He went deep twice on the opening possession and maybe one more time after that. Simply put, he needs to stretch the defense more. I think we have a solid corp of receivers and you have to give props to Aaron Boyd. Boyd has great size and while not a burner, can be a great possesion type receiver. Now that we have burned Dyshawn Mobley’s redshirt, let’s use him. It may be best to use a true RB by committee with Sanders, Williams, and Mobley. I know that may change if Josh Clemons comes back, but Mobley needs to be getting 5-7 carries a game.

I think Joker’s playcalling was improved and I like the fact he went for the fake punt, but hated the situation. It was at the wrong situation, but we also saw a flea flicker and an onsides kick. So he gets credit for that. This offense is on the way to being a fun offense to watch.

James Streble, WBN Associate Editor: Other than Max Smith and the wide receivers, the offensive line stood out to me. I think the big guys up front did a fantastic job of protecting Max Smith for most of the afternoon. In the first half it seemed as if Smith had all day to stand in the pocket and pick apart the weak middle of UofL’s defense. A quarterback is not able to connect with 11 different receivers if he doesn’t have time. He was sacked twice but both came in the second half. The running game was not much of a factor as Kentucky had to play catch up from the jump, but the holes the running backs were getting were large for the most part.

My big improvement (other than the D) goes to the coaching decisions. I still cannot figure out why a timeout was never called when there was over a minute left in the first half when Louisville had to punt. There was time enough left on the clock to possibly run some plays to put the offense in position to score to close the 22-7 gap. The offense was run in a hurry up scheme all day, so the offense is adept at moving the ball quickly. How the coaches never felt the need to call a time out for the entire game is confusing. Why not call a time out to try and slow down Louisville’s offense and make some defensive adjustments?

Also, I still don’t get that awful fake punt call when UK was in their own territory. And instead of having a running back or receiver (someone with speed) take the direct snap on the fake punt, the ball was given to the punter, one of the slowest players on the team.

The coaches need to put their team in better position to win the game.

Jason Marcum, WBN writer: The Kentucky offense shows vast improvement form last year. Receivers were getting much better seperation and appeared to be running their routes much more fluidly, allowing Max Smith to make every make able throw there was. Thats saying a lot, given the struggles Morgan Newton had just completing the easy throws. The running game was also very effective, and outside of a few inopportune fumbles in UL territory, the offense had a chance to score as many as 31 points against a good UL defense. Overall, this could have been one of the better offensive performances since the days of Woodson, Burton, Johnson, and Little leading one of the best offenses in the nation. The biggest difference is can these Cats cut down on turnovers?

Darren Durham, WBN Football writer:: The guys everyone is down on, Kevin Mitchell played a nice game, there was an Aaron Boyd sighting, and despite fumbling, Raymond Sanders did a great job rushing and in the passing game. Gene McCaskill looked healthier than ever before. Morgan Newton ran one play from the Wildcat and looked fast and shifty.

The offense needs to improve ball security. Sanders and Coshik Williams both lost fumbles on likely scoring drives. Although to Williams credit the defender’s knee hit the ball and Coshik may have been down. Still Newton fumbled but fell on it. Wide recievers La’Rod King and Aaron Boyd both lost control of the ball going out of bounds, so one can’t be sure if that would be a fumble in bounds or not. But Kentucky isn’t a team that can turn the ball over and expect to win many games this season.

Ken Howlett, A Sea of Blue: Although nothing really surprised me about Kentucky’s offensive output Sunday, it was reassuring to see Maxwell Smith play so well, and the running backs, CoShik Williams and Ray Sanders, more than make up for the loss (for now) of Josh Clemons.

Both positions were question marks coming into the year, and their combined performances (minus the running back’s fumbles) certainly gave me reason to expect, at minimum, a competent offensive football team in 2012.

Coach Phillips’ on-side kick to open up the second half probably qualifies as a stand-out moment from UK’s loss. In addition, the fake punt, although unsuccessful, was a pleasant surprise, and perhaps will portend a more offensively spirited Joker as it pertains to more frequently using “trickeration” techniques.

Hey, I’m a Les Miles fan, what can I say?

An area I would like to see improved upon (other than the obvious) is for the UK brain-trust to call more down-field tosses for Smith. Last season Smith showed good touch and arm strength on his deep passes, and hopefully that fact will embolden Joker and Randy Sanders to stretch the field with the wide outs and go deep, which will also serve to open up the already steady UK running game.

Speaking of the running game, although Williams and Sanders combined for 100 yards on 13 carries, the duo simply must hold onto the football. They both committed coach-killing, team-deflating miscues with their fumbles, costing UK points, something the Wildcats won’t generally be able to overcome.

Brian Eldridge, Kentucky Scout site: I liked that despite this being a rivalry game, Max Smith didn’t try to force the action too much. He’s took what the defense gave and made the most of it. He also made some throws that nobody at UK has made since Andre Woodson. That was a breath of fresh air for an offense that has be often inconsistent. The receivers also did a great job getting yards after the catch and holding on the the ball which was a big problem last year.