Brooks: UK has to run

September 17, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Establishing a consistent running game is a priority for Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. However, it has been passing, not running, that has helped the Wildcats beat Indiana four of the last five years.

The Wildcats have thrown for 300 or more yards in four of those games and rushed for over 100 yards just twice.

Yet there's no doubt Brooks want to see his team's running attack, which is averaging just 79 yards per game, play a prominent role in Saturday's game at Indiana.

"Our offense has to do a better job of keeping our defense off the field," said Brooks. "We've started all three games very slowly on offense. We need to get some ball-possession drives, move the chains, get some first downs and get a little ball control time-wise. That would really help our defense."


The Cats showed more offensive sets with three and four receivers in last week's 27-17 loss at Alabama. However, Brooks says every opponent dictates a different game plan and that more receivers were used last week to create more gaps in Alabama's defense for Kentucky's runners.

"We only got 47 snaps, but we thought the best plan was to spread out Alabama's defense so we could create more running gaps," the Kentucky coach said.

Quarterback Jared Lorenzen threw for 169 yards and one touchdown by completing 15 of 24 passes at Alabama. He was 19-for-32 passing for 183 yards and three touchdowns in last year's 27-17 win over Indiana.

"He's a tremendous competitor and is very difficult to bring down," Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo said. "He has a terrific arm and has always been a good quarterback. He's started since his freshman year and knows how to run an offense."

Brooks says Indiana often will use an eight-man defensive front except in long-yardage situations to make it difficult for opponents to run. He hinted that Kentucky might counter with more screen and short passes to find gaps in the defense.

Indiana had 201 yards rushing last week

Kentucky (1-2) managed just 26 yards rushing against Alabama and gave up 266 yards. Indiana (1-2) rushed for a season-high 201 yards in last week's win over Division I-AA Indiana State. Freshman Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis had 107 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore Chris Taylor had 90 yards and one touchdown.

"But we still had too many minus plays, too many plays that put us in bad situations," DiNardo said.

"They run the ball well, which is not what we defend best," Brooks said.

Brooks said Indiana quarterback Matt LoVecchio, a junior transfer from Notre Dame, will present problems for his team. LoVecchio has thrown for 556 yards this season.

"They've got an active quarterback who can run and throw," Brooks said. "They've got a couple of good receivers and a big offensive line. They'll test our defense."

The Kentucky defense thinks it is making progress despite giving up 464 total yards at Alabama.

"We are improving every day," UK cornerback Earven Flowers said. "We're learning the system and getting more comfortable with things. We can still get a whole lot better, too, because we still haven't put everything into the defense yet."

"I feel really good about the way the defense is playing," safety Mike Williams, who had 11 tackles at Alabama, said. "We still made some mental errors (at Alabama), but those errors are correctable."

Lorenzen says that just because Indiana's crowd will not be as large as the one at Alabama doesn't mean that it will not be a hostile environment for Kentucky.

"They will still be yelling and screaming at us," Lorenzen said. "Guys sitting on our sidelines are always rowdy. It will be hostile and loud. We've just got to adjust and win. We've got to make plays to keep our defense off the field and get this win. It's not a complicated scenario to figure out."


* UK defensive end Vincent Burns is second in the nation in tackles for loss. He has 9.5 tackles for loss this season, an average of 3.17 per game. He's had at least one tackle for loss in nine straight games.

* Safety Muhammad Abdullah ranks 12th in the nation in interceptions with two - one each against Louisville and Murray.

* Derek Abney is tied for fourth on UK's career touchdown reception list with Quentin McCord, who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons, with 15 scoring catches. Aaron Boone is No. 3 with 16.

* Indiana has already played 12 true freshmen this season along with 10 redshirt freshmen.

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