UK offense must be productive

August 29, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Scoring points has not usually been a problem for the winning team in the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry.

The teams have combined to average 58.1 points per game since the series resumed in 1994. A team has tallied 30 or more points in seven of those games, including 68 by Kentucky in 1998 and 56 by Louisville in 1999. Last year's 22-17 win by the Cats was the third lowest scoring game since the series resumed.

"I think there is a lot of pressure on our offense," said Kentucky senior tackle Antonio Hall. "We have a young defense with a lot of new players. We have a lot of guys on offense that have been around the block a few times. It's our job to go out and do all we can to take the pressure off the defense."

Kentucky will start only two seniors on defense. However, Louisville is scheduled to start just three - tackle Scott Lopez, linebacker Rod Day and cornerback Josh Minkins.


"They probably are going to have different packages from last year because they have a new coaching staff, too," Hall said. "We really can't tell exactly what to expect, but we know they are bigger, stronger and faster. I guess we'll see Sunday exactly what they have, but I'm expecting them to be a lot better than last year."

Or at least more emotional.

"It seems like they have been more emotional leading up to the game than us," Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen said. "Maybe it's because we beat them last year.

"But that's great and it just helps get us even more ready to play. We know how important this game is to everyone and there's no way we will come out flat just because some people are saying we are the favorite. We know Louisville's defense wants to make a statement against us, and we can't let that happen."

Holt hopes to make his own statement

Kentucky sophomore receiver Glenn Holt hopes to make his own statement. Derek Abney and true freshman Keenan Burton will start at receivers, but Holt expects to make a much bigger impact than he did in last year's game when he was a true freshman.

"Last year I really didn't think it was as big a game as it was," Holt said. "I knew it was our first game, but that was it. After the game, I realized this is a big rivalry. I found it is the biggest rivalry. Winning that game does a lot for the team, the fans and the whole town. It's that big.

"I am so pumped up for Louisville. It's my first game back from my freshman year. Last year I didn't play that much in the Louisville game or get that many balls. But this time I'm ready."

He has even spent time leading up to Sunday's game studying media guides and preseason publications to learn more about the Cardinals' secondary.

"They seem pretty decent from what I have read and seen. They have a lot of good players back there," Holt said.

Both defenses have focused on creating more turnovers this season. Last year, Louisville forced only 15 turnovers. The Cats were much better protecting the ball in 2002 than they had been the previous year as Lorenzen threw just five interceptions on 327 pass attempts and star running back Artose Pinner seldom fumbled.

First-year Kentucky coach Rich Brooks says two keys for his team Sunday are getting turnovers and not making any of its own. The team that has won the turnover battle is 7-2 in this series since 1994.

"We have a four-linebacker alignment and you never know which one is coming (after the quarterback)," Brooks said. "Zone coverage is easier out of the 3-4 alignment, too. I just like what I've seen from the defense as far as getting to the ball, hitting and reacting. One thing we've gotten better on, too, is our ability to catch the ball in the secondary when it is thrown to them. We can't give up turnovers when we have a chance to get one."


* Lorenzen is 47-for-92 for 638 yards and four touchdowns in three games against Louisville. He's also thrown four interceptions. He threw for 322 yards and three scores in a 40-34 loss in 2000, but was 13-for-27 for 195 yards and one score in last season's victory.

Louisville starting quarterback Stefan LeFors is 8-for-16 passing for 112 yards and one score in his career. Sunday will be his first start.

* Derek Abney caught two passes for 10 yards and returned a punt 47 yards for a score against Louisville in 2001. Last year he had four catches for 26 yards, returned one punt for 11 yards and returned three kickoffs for 70 yards.

Louisville return specialist Broderick Clark had a 100-yard kickoff return against the Cats last season and was second in the nation in kickoff return average. He returned 31 kicks for 897 yards in 2002.

* Louisville senior placekicker Nate Smith has 30 career field goals and needs just seven more to set a new school record.

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