LaRod King says it’s not hard to evaluate how Kentucky’s receivers played in Thursday’s 14-7 win over Western Kentucky or what lies ahead for that group.
“We have no choice but to get better. This was probably our worst game ever,” said King, who had two catches for 41 yards and one score, after the game in Nashville. “It was as simple as that. I can’t explain it or make excuses. We have to come out and take this as a lesson learned.”
Several UK¿receivers, including King, dropped passes. Both King and senior Matt Roark dropped passes that would have been about 50-yard plays.
“We have to find a group of wide receivers that can make plays,” UK¿coach Joker Phillips said Friday. “We had the necessary separation we thought to make plays. Guys just have to make plays. It was old guys we expect a lot out of (that didn’t). If we have to bring up a freshman, bring in a freshman ... we have to make plays. We want to throw the ball down the field and Morgan (Newton) did a good job throwing down the field.”
Newton finished the game just 7-for-18 for 97 yards and one score. He was intercepted three times and sacked three times.
Both Phillips and King insisted the receivers’ erratic play should not have impacted Newton.
“I hope it doesn’t hurt Morgan’s confidence. A quarterback has to understand you are going to have some drops.¿You hope you don’t have as many as we had,” Phillips said.
“It could hurt him a little bit, but that happens in games. You have to learn and keep going,” King said.
King says it is way too early after one game to panic about UK’s offense that generated just 190 yards and 14 points against a team it scored 63 points against in 2010 when Mike Hartline, Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and Chris Matthews were playing for UK.
“Don’t worry at all. This was one of those games where it was just a little fluke. We had some nervousness in our system with the first game. We were a little rattled. But that’s it,” King said. “After this game, we are going to go to work and solve the problems and get ready for Central Michigan (Saturday).”
King says there is plenty to work on, too.
“Just everything. Spend more time with Morgan, more film, more routes. Just learn how to manage the game better. When things don’t get your way, you have to learn how to adjust. We have to deal with that,” King said.
The receiver said offensive coordinator Randy Sanders and receivers coach Tee Martin were not overly downcast after the game.
“They said a win is a win. Throw this one out the window,” King said. “There were a lot more plays we could have made, but we left them on the field. That’s our fault. We have to make up for that.”
He says the receivers are much better than when they dropped numerous passes in spring practice despite the drops they had against Western.
“It is just lack of focus. That’s on my part. I didn’t get our receivers together. I was kind of off focus, too. It’s about going out and making plays and we can do that. I¿know we can,” King said.
Sophomore Brian Adams was expected to give the receivers a boost this year, but he had just one catch for four yards.
“Brian played probably 25 to 30 snaps. He just didn’t get any opportunity,” Phillips said. “Got one and one we tried to get to him was deflected and intercepted. Morgan went through his reads and threw the ball where it was called for. He just did not have many opportunities.”
Phillips made it sound like it was not a case of Adams not being open, but more Adams not being the first option on most plays.
“Morgan went through his reads and threw to guys the first read took him to. He just did not have a chance to get to his next read because he thought those guys were open and Brian just did not get any opportunity,” Phillips said.
True freshman DeMarco Robinson is a player Phillips would like to get the ball to more, starting with the Central Michigan game.
“I like DeMarco, too,” King said. “He is fast and knows what to do, but he has a long way to go to learn how to be a receiver in the SEC. There’s nothing compared to the speed of the SEC.”