Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Week in the Dawg House: Kentucky Offense



SHOULD this team beat us? No. Is their offense significantly better than Tennessee's or Vandy's? Yes. Are their players going to play like they're hungover like UT and Vandy? Hopefully, but I doubt it. The point is, we need not take this offense lightly. Of course the brains behind the offense is the Joker himself, which should cause SOME concern simply because of his name. (This is offset somewhat by the fact that Randy Sanders is their OC). Nonetheless, statistically they stack up quite well in the SEC: Total offense per game (429.3, ranks 3rd), yards per play (6.3, ranks 5th), scoring offense (35.3, ranks 2nd), sacks allowed (6, ranks first), and turnovers lost (6, ranks 1st). So as you can see, if you're a Dawg fan, there could be a lot of remote control replacing after the game Saturday. The Cats run a balanced offense but are typically more of a "throw first" team. They usually run out of shotgun but this year have shown a tendency to line up under center more than usual. Luckily for the Dawgs, it looks like UK might be without one of their top players -- more on him later. First let's break down the offensive position groups:


RANDALL COBB -- Yes, in case you are wondering, I'm dedicating an entire paragraph and position group to one player. Why? Because as Stuart Scott would say, "This dude is a flat-out BALLA!" He primarily plays wide receiver but also does the following things: takes direct snaps out of the "Wild Cobb" formation (speaking of which, I would like an explanation as to why Kentucky doesn't just call it the "Wildcat" formation since that is what the package was originally called....I mean it's on a silver platter....Kentucky WILDCATS...I guess this could just be Joker at his finest). He also runs back punts and kicks, he pisses off fans, he slaughters puppies, he cheats on his taxes...okay, I made those last two up, but the point is, he's pretty good.
(Wild Cobb, pictured left)

QUARTERBACKS -- If it is possible to win "Most Improved" AND "Comeback Player of the Year" in the same season, then #5 Mike Hartline (6-6 206) is the guy. Last year, he wasn't that effective and he struggled to find....basically he sucked. This year, he's been lights out throwing the ball: 158/230 (68.3%) 1791 yards, 13 TDs and 3 INTs. He's not the most nimble guy (14 att. 9 yds rushing) but his decision making, accuracy, and overall leadership have all kicked up about eight notches. And I think we all remember his backup, #12 Morgan Newton (6-4 235), who had, uh, 3 TD passes against us last year.

RUNNING BACKS -- This is where that "top player's absence" will come into play -- #20 Derrick Locke (5-9 191) is listed as Doubtful, so it's unlikely he'll have a huge impact even if he does play. Locke is 3rd in the SEC in rush yards per game with 95.67, and also leads SEC running backs in pretty much all receiving categories: 24 rec. for 225 yards. But, he also missed the last game against S.C., which the Cats won, so don't get too excited. If Locke can't go, his primary replacement will be #23 Donald Russell (5-11 208). Russell has 45 carries for 165 yards, and has caught 13 passes for 133 yards, so they like to use him the same way they use Locke. The third RB is freshman #4 Raymond Sanders (5-8 185) who only has 18 carries for 88 yards. The fullback is #30 Moncell Allen (5-7 232) who is used mostly as a blocking back.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS -- In addition to the aforementioned Cobb, UK has other capable receivers, such as #8 Chris Matthews (6-5 225). Matthews had a career day last week against the Cocks, hauling in 12 passes for 177 yards. On the season, he leads the team in receiving yards with 482, TD catches with 6, and is second in receptions with 33. The only other real threat from UK in the wide receiver department is #16 La'Rod King (6-4 202). He is the team's third leading receiver, and has 24 rec. for 249 yards and 3 TDs. The only tight end that has gotten serious action in the passing game is freshman #86 Jordan Aumiller (6-4 230). Aumiller has caught 11 rec. for 120 yards. As you can see, these receivers are big, and our corners are small...I'm a little bit nervous about this.

OFFENSIVE LINE -- As a unit, Kentucky's offensive line has been pretty solid this year. They have only allowed six sacks, and UK as a teams ranks 5th in the SEC in yards per carry. And unlike Tennessee, Kentucky has no significant injuries on their line. Here are their projected starters:

LT: #66 Chandler Burdon (6-4 296)
LG: #70 Stuart Hines (6-4 293, probably their best lineman)
C: #69 Matt Smith (6-4 289)
RG: #67 Larry Warford (6-3 335)
RT: #75 Brad Durham (6-4 310)

The durable offensive line concerns me, as you have to think they're getting better and better each week, and given Kentucky's quick passing game, it may be hard to pressure the QB.

PLACE KICKER: UK's primary kicker is #93 Chris McIntosh, who is 7/9 on field goals, and 15/16 on XPs.

Here is the depth chart for the UK offense:

QB #5 Mike Hartline
RB #23 Donald Russell (assuming Locke can't go)
FB #30 Moncell Allen
WR #18 Randall Cobb
WR #8 Chris Matthews
WR #16 La'Rod King
TE #86 Jordan Aumiller

LT #66 Chandler Burdon
LG #70 Stuart Hines
C #69 Matt Smith
RG #67 Larry Warford
RT #75 Brad Durham

PK #93 Chris McIntosh

The key to this game in simple...GET OFF THE FIELD ON THIRD DOWN!!!!! Their offense is predicated on the short passing game so our DBs are going to have to come to play. Oh, and stopping Randall Cobb....well, you can't stop him...let's just hope to contain him.

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