Vaught's Views: Backup steps up for Wildcats

October 20, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - The script had a lot of different, perhaps even unexpected, twists for Kentucky, but the ending was exactly what the Wildcats needed.

Kentucky overcame two early fumbles by quarterback Jared Lorenzen thanks to the relief work of backup quarterback Shane Boyd to beat Ohio University 35-14 here Saturday night.

Boyd ran for two scores, threw a touchdown pass on a trick play and turned a screen pass from Lorenzen into a 31-yard scoring reception in a game that Kentucky (3-4) had to win or the team would have to start using the word bowl only when it wanted to go to the local lanes for a night of fun.

While Boyd's touchdown trifecta may have been the first in UK history, his superb play was not the only different twist in this game.


While the Cats did not throw the ball deep often, they did make a concerted effort to get more touches for receiver Derek Abney. He had six catches for 63 yards and one touchdown, but also had four other passes thrown his direction and ran four times for 26 yards.

"That's what I would like to do a lot. To do it, we need to move the football more so we have more opportunities," UK coach Rich Brooks said. "We had 65 plays tonight. I would like to have 85 soon so we can get more touches."

Receiver Tommy Cook, all but forgotten by the UK offense this season, also had his most productive game.

He came into the game with only one catch - or 21 less than he had last season - and had also played only sparingly. However, he not only played more, but he also caught a 42-yard scoring strike from Boyd after the quarterback had handed the ball off to running back Arliss Beach and then taken a pitch back from Beach.

So much for the UK offense lacking any creativity, especially since the play had been designed for Abney but went to Cook because Abney was shaken up a play earlier.

"I'm just glad I could do more to help the team," Cook said. "It's been kind of a frustrating year for everyone, but this helps."

"It's a great call when it works," Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson said. "But the kids stepped up and made the play. That's what made the play work."

The defense also made sure there was no Big MAC attack in this game.

Mid-America Conference teams have pulled several big upsets this season, but the Wildcats defense forced three turnovers, made a goal-line stand and limited the Bobcats to just 153 total yards for three periods before giving up a total of 295.

"I was extremely pleased with the defensive effort tonight," Brooks said. "They score points on everybody they play. For us to perform with the discipline we did, that was outstanding. The takeaways were huge in the outcome of the game."

If that wasn't enough, sophomore special teams standout Andrew Hopewell partially blocked a punt early in period two to set up Boyd's first score, an 8-yard run that tied the game at 7-7 and made it a lot easier for Brooks to keep Boyd in the game.

"It was a big play and something we needed," Hopewell said. "I just wanted to make sure I didn't rough the punter and do something to take field position away from us because our offense had been having a little trouble."

Brooks noticed.

"Offensively, we started very shaky," Brooks said. "Jared started to scramble and fumble. Then lost another fumble after we drove down the field. I had made up my mind I was going to substitute Shane and give him a chance.

"After the second fumble, I brought Jared over and just told him I wanted him to settle down. Shane played very well and then Jared came back in and played very well the second half. We finally even hit a pass to Shane from Jared for a big play, which is what we thought we might get more of this year."

As well as Boyd ran and played, Brooks showed Lorenzen is still his No. 1 quarterback by putting him back into the game in the fourth quarter and he responded by throwing two touchdown passes.

"Jared is our quarterback. It was time to put him back in. He is our quarterback and he was not hurt," Brooks said. "We have a real change of pace in those two quarterbacks in their style of play.

"It was just good to get a win and give all you guys (in the media) something to write about."

What could make Brooks - and UK fans - even happier would be if the Cats could follow this win with more of the same.

UK should be favored over Mississippi State this week and may not be nearly as overmatched in two weeks here against Arkansas as it may have looked a few weeks ago, especially if the Lorenzen-Boyd duo can put the same pizzazz into the UK offense that it did the final three periods tonight.

"This is more what this offense should be like," Abney said.

"Shane really played great. He was running around and breaking tackles. Jared came back and threw the ball great.

"This is what we've been wanting to do. We did a lot of things and, most importantly, we went out there and had fun."

But can it continue?

"I sure hope so," Brooks said. "We're still waiting to play a 60-minute game. The defense got closer tonight, but if this team just hangs in there, more good things are going to happen."

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