Brooks: UK will use best offense

October 31, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - While it may have looked like Kentucky's offense only came to life last week when the Wildcats used more wide receivers to spread the defense out, UK coach Rich Brooks says not to be fooled into thinking that's what the Cats will do Saturday against Arkansas.

"We are going to put the offense on the field that gives us the best chance versus a certain opponent," said Brooks. "If you play that offense against some teams, there would be a lot more quarterback sacks and negative plays."

Still, Kentucky did outscore Mississippi State 35-0 the second half last week when Brooks put quarterback Jared Lorenzen in the shotgun most of the time and used three, four or even five wide receivers to spread out the defense. For the first time this season, UK reached its weekly goal of amassing at least 400 yards of total offense.

Kentucky will face a far better defense in Saturday night's ESPN2 game against Arkansas even though the Razorbacks have lost their last three games. Last year, Kentucky beat Arkansas 29-17, but gained only 332 yards while giving up 515. Of those 332 yards, 253 were provided by Lorenzen's passing while Arkansas limited Artose Pinner, the Southeastern Conference's top rusher, to 67 yards on 26 carries.


Still, Brooks seemed to indicate that the Cats would try to run more even if Arliss Beach, last week's starting tailback, can't play because of a knee injury.

"We did not get much production out of the running game last week," Brooks said. "Every film I put on of teams in this league, you see a back that breaks tackles and makes long runs. If we get that, the spread or any offense would look better."

Brooks' players did not want to second guess the coach's offensive strategy.

"The coaches are not going to give us the second best game plan," receiver Derek Abney said. "They want to win just as much as we do."

However, the players don't think spreading the field would necessarily make it easier for teams to pressure Lorenzen and keep the UK offense from being productive.

"People may think they know what you are going to do by this point of the season, but there are only two things you do on the football field," Kentucky offensive lineman Sylvester Miller said. "You either run the ball or throw the ball. It's about the one-on-one battle up front either way. If you win it and your teammates do, then you can do whatever you want to a defense.

"But once you spread a defense out, it takes linebackers out of the box (at the line of scrimmage). Defenses won't walk the free safety up to play the run. It opens lanes for running and throwing the ball. Or at least that's the way I see it."

Abney, UK's top receiver, understands that most of UK's top offensive players were recruited to play in a passing offense and are going to be happier, and more comfortable, in a spread offense. However, he also thinks it can work.

"If you spread the field, you need defenders to guard those people and you have fewer left to rush the quarterback," Abney said. "We are used to that. We like that. Maybe we just are more comfortable with it and execute it better. It was certainly effective the second half last week and any receiver is going to tell you it can work any time.

"But I also understand that the coaches have to look at the big picture. They probably see and know things we don't. But we want to get at least 400 yards every game, and we've got to consistently do that the rest of this season to reach the goals we have set."

Yeast honored: Craig Yeast of Harrodsburg will serve as honorary captain for Saturday's game.

Yeast is the Southeastern Conference's all-time leading receiver with 208 catches from 1995-98 at Kentucky. He also holds school records for most pass receptions in a game (16); most receiving yards in a game (269), season (1,311) and career (2,899); most touchdown catches in one game (4), season (14) and career (28); most touchdowns scored in a game (4); longest kickoff return (100 yards); and most kickoff return touchdowns (3).

He earned first-team All-SEC and third-team All-America honors his senior season. He played with the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets before spending the past year playing with the Lexington Horsemen and in the Canadian Football League.

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