Archer - 'This is as low as it gets'

October 05, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Kentucky's offensive woes this season may have been worse than anticipated, but the UK offense was not supposed to be the team's strength.

Instead, the Kentucky defense was expected to be the team's best unit based on the improvement it made last year, the players it returned, and new players that were brought in to fill holes and provide depth.

However, going into Saturday's game with Alabama, Kentucky's defense is last in the Southeastern Conference in total defense (420.5 yards per game) and rushing defense (197.2 yards per game) and next to last in scoring defense (27 points) and passing defense (223.2).

"This is as low as it gets," Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. "I want guys that are going to practice and play the game hard. If you want to do that, fine. If not, I don't want you.


"At times, we did absolutely nothing (against Ohio in a 28-16 loss Saturday) and just went through the motions. You can't do that. It should be a fistfight every play. Until we learn how to practice that way, these things are going to happen. The players have to understand they are accountable and responsible, too."

Kentucky will face an Alabama team that is limited offensively after losing quarterback Brodie Croyle to an injury three weeks ago. However, the Crimson Tide leads the SEC in rushing offense (227.4 yards per game).

"Alabama doesn't really care about our problems. They are going to come after us," Archer said.

Threatening to make personnel changes

Archer is threatening to make major personnel changes Saturday if his top players don't practice better this week. He cites the lack of competition at some positions as a problem and noted that when he demoted linebacker Chad Anderson to second team, he immediately got elevated back to first team when Dustin Williams broke his arm. Anderson missed a tackle on Ohio's 89-yard touchdown pass that broke open last week's game.

"We are going to make some tough decisions that we will play guys, but if you don't produce, you are done," Archer said. "If guys don't want to play hard, then we are going to play the ones that do whether they are first team guys or not."

Anderson ranks seventh in the SEC with eight tackles per game. However, his inconsistent play has frustrated Archer and Anderson knows he faces a rough week of practice.

"If the coaches say we are not practicing hard enough, then we are not practicing hard enough," Anderson said. "They have more experience at this than I do. They are going to up the script this week. We will find out who wants to play and who doesn't.

"When you play a team (Ohio) that by all rights that you should be able to handle and you get beat like we did, then you obviously are not taking it serious enough. I don't know if it is the result of not practicing hard enough or not playing to our potential. But something has to be changed."

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks joked Monday that this was "job swap week," saying he intended to let a different media member coach each quarter against Alabama and that he would then write about their coaching.

"This is probably a good week to do that," Brooks said.

Once he turned serious, he made it clear he needed better leadership from his players.

"I shouldn't have to tell them to get motivated," Brooks said. "It's about the team, not the individual. Sometimes they listen, but they don't hear. I might try different listening devices this week.

"I would like to have somebody that is not afraid to tell someone he is not aligned right or doing something right. Most players are afraid to tell a teammate that because they are afraid they might not do something right. Leadership grows slowly, but we need more leadership."

Missing kicker: Junior kicker Taylor Begley probably won't forget the field goal he kicked against Ohio in the second half Saturday.

The Wildcats were set to try the field goal when holder Anthony Thornton noticed the unit was missing one player - Begley.

"I looked up at the scoreboard and they had not changed the down to fourth yet," the former Boyle County High School kicker said. "I thought it was still third down and all of a sudden they started hollering for me. Coach Brooks asked what I was doing. Obviously, he was not pleased."

Begley did make the kick. Earlier, though, he missed a 31-yard field goal after a penalty nullified the 26-yard kick he made one play earlier.

"Sometimes that can throw off your rhythm when you have a penalty," Begley said. "That's no excuse, though. From that distance, you should make 10 of 10. The snap was high on the second attempt, but I still have to get it through and I didn't do it. It's very disappointing when that happens."

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