Vaught's Views: Hudson says 'there are no quick fixes' for Wildcats

October 05, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson wishes the Wildcats could score on every possession. He would like for Jared Lorenzen to be able to throw long touchdown passes to Derek Abney or other receivers. He would love to see one running back establish himself as the next Artose Pinner.

However, Hudson also has to remain realistic about Kentucky's offense.

The Cats will reach the season's halfway mark Thursday when they play at South Carolina. While the Kentucky defense has perhaps played better than expected, especially the last three games, the offense has not matched last year's numbers when it averaged 32 points and 347 yards per game.

"In my mind, we are doing just fine. For where this program is, five games into the season, we are fine," said Hudson, the former Kansas State offensive coordinator who came to UK in January to join Rich Brooks' staff. "We are 2-3. Everybody wants to be 5-0. It ain't going to happen. You would like to think it would, but it won't.


"The scholarship limits (because of NCAA sanctions) are not an excuse, just a reality. People have to understand that. A lot of our backup kids are walk-on players.That's something we have to live with. But we understood that coming in. We just have to work with what we have and go recruit. Those things take three or four years. It really does, even though no one wants to hear that. There are no quick fixes out there. It just doesn't happen. Right now our kids are still excited and that's all we can ask."

UK averaging 311 yards a game

Kentucky is averaging 115 yards rushing and 195 yards passing per game. That's 311 total yards per game compared to 376 yards that five opponents have averaged against the Wildcats. However, UK is outscoring its opponents 26.6 points per game to 22.8 despite its 2-3 record going into Thursday's game.

"We are not running the ball as well as we thought we might," Hudson said. "We are getting better. The players are learning the system. We are getting into the right schemes. We just are not blocking like we need to. We have to get better movement up front. Our pass protection has improved. We are making progress. But we are behind where we thought we would be with the running game."

It's not surprising that UK has not had a dominant running back emerge. Tailbacks Draak Davis and Arliss Beach are averaging 2.6 and 3.5 yards per carry, respectively. Fullback-tailback Alexis Bwenge is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt, but has only 28 carries in five games.

Considering the success Hudson's offense had running the ball at Kansas State and that UK returned five starters in the offensive line, more was expected from the running game. Of course, that might have been unrealistic considering Pinner gained numerous yards last year by breaking tackles and Kentucky lacks an efficient blocker at tight end.

Still, Kentucky has run the ball 173 times while throwing it only 130. Even factoring in that some of the runs have been when quarterback Jared Lorenzen either was sacked or ran to avoid a sack, the Cats have still run the ball more than the productivity would seem to indicate they should have.

"It might seem that way, but we have to run to keep our defense off the field," Hudson said. "If you continuously throw the ball and are in second or third down and long, then the defense has the advantage and the clock gets stopped.

"We have to be smart. We are not just looking at one side of the ball. We have to do what we can to help our defense. But we have made big plays and we've had chances for more."

No complaints about Lorenzen's play

Hudson has no complaints with Lorenzen's play. He's 76-for-123 passing for 928 yards and nine scores with four interceptions, including costly picks late in the losses to Louisville and Florida.

"In his defense, he's getting better every game. The option is not his forte, but that's part of our offense," Hudson said. "We've also not been able to throw deep for several reasons. We are getting better at the underneath routes and as we progress, that will lead to more deep balls.

"It takes time. I am not saying that we are not getting better, but it takes more than four or five games. These kids have been in the offense for about 60 practices, not three or four years."

Hudson says there will not be wholesale changes in the final seven games. The Cats have tried to add more variety in recent weeks. They threw a halfback pass with Shane Boyd against Indiana. They've used more quick screens to wide receivers. They unveiled the shovel pass at Alabama. They ran Abney on a reverse against Florida and also had receiver Tommy Cook throw a pass off a reverse.

"You might see some different things, but basically it still comes down to blocking and tackling and making sure we do the things that work," Hudson said.

Sounds easy, but it has been much harder than expected so far for Kentucky's offense in Hudson's first season.

Larry Vaught can be reached at

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