Vaught's Views: Franklin says UK needs changes

September 12, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

While he won't dispute that Kentucky's talent level may not be where it needs to be in comparison to other Southeastern Conference teams, former UK offensive coordinator Tony Franklin refuses to believe that the Wildcats cannot be more productive than they were against Louisville.

"It's all about putting the players you do have in a scheme where they can succeed. That's what coaches do," said Franklin.

Franklin laughs when he hears that Hal Mumme inherited a talent-rich team when he came to Kentucky in 1997. He did have quarterback Tim Couch to ignite his pass-oriented offense, but Franklin says the team had other major weaknesses.

"We were not overloaded with talent in the offensive line, either," Franklin said. "But we compensated."

Franklin took exception to several things he saw the Wildcats do offensively in the 28-0 loss to Louisville. He remembers one third-down play in the Louisville game where the Cats needed seven yards for a first down. The play that was called had quarterback Shane Boyd fake a deep handoff and then try a naked bootleg to fool the defense.


"No lineman pulled. No receiver was in the flat like normal. There was no way Louisville was going to buy that fake since Kentucky had not had a running game. The play didn't have a chance," Franklin said.

Far too predictable about when they snap the ball

Perhaps his biggest complaint was that the Cats were far too predictable offensively in terms of when they snapped the ball. Boyd may have called audibles at the line 50 percent of the time or more, something offensive coordinator Ron Hudson expects his quarterback to do. However, that also usually meant the 25-second play clock was about to expire and the defense knew when the ball would be snapped.

"Kentucky did not have any offensive rhythm. Everything was predictable," Franklin said. "They broke the huddle with about 15 seconds on the play clock. They would either check the play at the line or wait and send someone in motion. The ball got snapped with about one second on the clock. The defensive linemen were waiting and their motors revved. They knew when the ball was going to be snapped and that makes it hard for any offensive lineman to get his block."

So what could be done differently to keep the play clock from almost expiring before the ball is snapped?

"First, call a play and stick with it. Don't always worry so much about adjusting to the defense. Make the defense adjust to what you are doing," Franklin said. "Kentucky is sending in plays the way it was done in the 1920's. Rather than signal in plays like the rest of college football teams do, they send a player in with the play, the quarterback looks at his arm (at the play chart) and then calls the play. That's archaic.

"Go no-huddle some. Break the defense's rhythm. Throw more quick passes that make the defensive linemen chase the ball rather than just tee off on the quarterback."

Want more?

"Put the quarterback in the shotgun more to give him more time if the offensive line is a problem," Franklin said.

He would also use freshman receiver Lonnell Dewalt more to take advantage of his 6-6 frame.

"I would play him every snap and let him learn as he goes. He's too big and good to be watching," Franklin said.

He would also go with freshmen running backs Tony Dixon and Rafael Dixon to try and upgrade the offense's speed.

UK needs Brooks to put his mark on the offense

However, what Franklin says Kentucky needs more than anything is for head coach Rich Brooks to put his mark on the offense and make sure offensive coordinator Ron Hudson does exactly what he wants done.

"Rich Brooks has to be hands-on with the offense before the Indiana game. He has to make sure things are being done the way he wants," Franklin said. "The offense has to be fixed. Can it be fixed? Yes. It might not be easy, but there are things you can do to give the players you have a better chance to succeed and that's what Kentucky has to do before it plays Indiana."

If not, a season that started with an embarrassing loss is only going to get a lot worse.|

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