UK Notebook: Wildcats still lack speed of top teams

September 15, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Rich Brooks feels better about his University of Kentucky football team today than he did before the Wildcats played at Alabama Saturday night. However, the 27-17 loss at Alabama also verified one of Brooks' biggest worries.

"I feel better about our ability to be competitive, play hard and get after people. We played like we care and played like we wanted it," said Brooks Sunday. "But the game signifies the difference between the speed level of our team and the upper echelon teams in our league.

"The speed factor was a major factor in their making plays to get us off the field (on offense). (Tailback Shaud) Williams' speed was a definite factor in them not getting off the field."

Alabama amassed 464 total yards, including 174 rushing by Williams, and held Kentucky to 195 yards. The Wildcats were so inept offensively early in the game that they did not get their initial first down until midway of period two.


"Defensively, we have not given up the 50-, 60- or 70-yard play. That's the good news," Brooks said. "The bad news is that we are not doing a good job on first and second down. We gave up too many big runs. Many were caused by our missed tackles, then Williams made us miss some. But we just need more speed."

One tackle that wasn't missed came on a third down and inches play at the Alabama seven-yard line in the third period. Kentucky had cut the lead to 13-7 and had a chance to take the lead.

Quarterback Jared Lorenzen called an audible because of the Alabama defensive formation. He ran the option to the left and pitched the ball to Draak Davis because he expected Alabama's cornerback to cover a receiver in the end zone. Instead, the cornerback made the tackle for a loss and Kentucky had to settle for a Taylor Begley field goal.

Brooks said Lorenzen was right to call the audible, but was wrong to pitch it to Davis.

"All Jared had to do was cut up the field. There was a soft spot in there where he could have gained yardage," Brooks said.

Lorenzen was 15-for-24 passing for 169 yards and one score. He slightly sprained his knee when he was hit and spun around in the third quarter. Brooks said Sunday he had some swelling in the knee, but should be fine for this week's game at Indiana. He also said that cornerback Bo Smith (hamstring) and offensive guard Jason Rollins (turf toe) should also be recovered for the Hoosiers.

Brooks would not directly criticize the officiating in Saturday's loss. An Alabama fumble on a punt was negated by an inadvertent whistle, several times receiver Derek Abney was hit late when he was out of bounds with no call being made, and a Williams' fumble at the goal line was ruled a touchdown. Abney also was ruled to have touched his knee on the ground when he caught a pass with a big opening in front of him.

Brooks said he heard the whistle blow as Williams called for a fair catch and then had the ball go through his hands.

"That's all good and wonderful that it was an inadvertent whistle, but that's hard to explain to a group of players," Brooks said. "I heard the whistle blow as he was catching the ball. There's no question it was an inadvertent whistle, but why was it being blown."

Brooks said questionable calls will be sent to the Southeastern Conference office for review.

"My only comment is that we review film and send in plays that we have questions on and there are numerous plays we have questions on about calls that were made, or not made in several cases," Brooks said. "But we just have to move on."

The Kentucky coach said his team's season could hinge on the outcome of this week's game at Indiana. Both teams have one win in three games this year.

"We desperately need a win. If we can come through these first four games 2-2, then we have a chance to have a decent year," Brooks said. "If we let this win slip by us, then we are going to be in a major hole.

"Indiana is in the same boat. It will be two hungry dogs with one piece of meat out there."

Central Kentucky News Articles