Hudson getting ready for unknown

August 28, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Because he's not sure exactly what to expect from Louisville's defense, Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson isn't positive about what will work best for the Wildcats Sunday.

"We don't know what they will do, so we have a lot of packages in," said Hudson, the former Kansas State offensive coordinator who came to UK this year to join Rich Brooks' staff. "We want to give our players the best opportunity to succeed. A lot of what we will do depends on the defense and we're just going to have to wait and see what Louisville does."

New Louisville defensive coordinator Mike Gillhamer expects Hudson to take advantage of quarterback Jared Lorenzen's experience and passing abilities. He's also counting on seeing backup quarterback Shane Boyd not only taking snaps, but also lining up at other spots.

"What Ron does is put his best players in position to make plays," Gillhamer said. "He fits his system to the talent and gives his players a chance to do what they do best. We know stopping Kentucky's offense will not be easy."


Still, Hudson is far from overconfident going into Sunday's season-opening game at Commonwealth Stadium.

First, center Nick Seitze missed practice Wednesday after waking up with a stiff neck. It is not expected to be a serious problem, but Hudson does not want to go into his first game with an inexperienced center. If Seitze couldn't play, either junior Daniel Burnett, who is No. 2 on the depth chart, or guard Jason Rollins would replace him.

"That would be a major problem if Seitze couldn't play," Hudson said. "You would have to worry about the center-quarterback exchange and the snap in the shotgun. But I don't think Nick's injury will be a problem."

Second, Jeremiah Drobney, scheduled to be the starting tight end, lost weight at practice Tuesday and became ill. He missed practice Wednesday.

The Cats will also use Win Gaffron and walk-on Bruce Fowler at tight end.

"That's not one of our strongest positions," Hudson said. "Having Drobney miss a day of practice right now is not good."

Then there is Derek Abney's hamstring problem. He's is Kentucky's top returning receiver, but has practiced just three days because of the injury.

"He's just getting his sea legs back," Hudson said. "The mental part of actually playing in our system is a lot different. He's struggled a little bit recalling all that is required of him. He's trying to learn all three receiver spots and that's not easy to do. But it does help to have him at least back playing."

Kentucky also goes into the game without a proven running back. Alexis last year's backup tailback, has added 15 pounds and now is a 230-pound fullback. Junior college transfer Draak Davis will start at tailback with sophomore Arliss Beach running No. 2.

"We are just going with what we have," Hudson said. "We want to get our best personnel on the field. Arliss and Draak do things at tailback as good, or better, as Alexis. With Alexis at fullback, it gives our offense an added dimension and gets our best athletes on the field at the same time."

Hudson says Kentucky will need to be at its best against the Cardinals' defense.

"We are going to be playing a good Louisville team," Hudson said. "Our kids have to respond to the way I know Louisville is going to play. They are really going to come after us and we have to match that intensity."

UK Notes: Lorenzen is one of 26 players named Wednesday as a candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award that is presented annually to the nation's top senior quarterback. ... Hudson will be in the pressbox during Sunday night's game but said he "has a separate telephone line to communicate directly with the quarterbacks" on the sideline. ... Former Danville standout Andrew Hopewell, a sophomore, will be on the punt return, kickoff return and kickoff team. .... Receiver Tommy Cook, who had surgery to remove a bone spur on his ankle, will dress for Sunday's game and would be available as a backup holder on extra points and field goals if needed.

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