FanPost

Kentucky Football 2013: Green Shoots

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

A 2-6 record is somewhat of a disappointment to many of the Big Blue faithful who prior to the season had been riding high on a wave of football enthusiasm. After all, BBN had witnessed recording-setting attendance for a spring game. That success was quickly followed by Coach Stoops & Co. living up to their reputation as relentless recruiters, and UK ever so briefly had the top recruiting class in the nation. Historical trends were shifting, and for once UK football recruiting was a summer-time topic of discussion in the halls of Bristol, Connecticut; Columbus, OH; Atlanta, GA; and perhaps most importantly: within the Commonwealth itself.

Then the season happened. The talent disparity inevitably reared its ugly head. A schedule that at one point was rated as the 13th toughest in the country allowed for little margin of error. A first time head coach admits that he and his staff have made mistakes. A tough inaugural season for Coach Stoops and his staff was foreseen by many, completely understandable, but nevertheless frustrating. Success in the SEC is a high barrier to entry.

Yet, there is cause for hope in this autumn of our discontent. The offense's performance has improved across the board despite lingering quarterback and offensive line issues. The numbers bear this out:

2013












Name

Yr

Pos

Games

Att

Yards

Avg.

TD

Att/G

Yards/G

1

Jojo Kemp

FR

RB

8

72

390

5.42

2

9

48.75

2

Raymond Sanders III

SR

RB

8

77

370

4.81

2

9.63

46.25

3

Jalen Whitlow

SO

QB

8

63

351

5.57

5

7.88

43.88

4

Ryan Timmons

FR

ATH

8

11

89

8.09

0

1.38

11.13

5

Jonathan George

SR

RB

5

19

56

2.95

1

3.8

11.2

6

Dyshawn Mobley

SO

RB

7

12

54

4.5

0

1.71

7.71

Total




8

277

1298

4.69

12

34.63

162.25












2012











1

Raymond Sanders III

JR

RB

11

125

669

5.35

5

11.36

60.82

2

Jonathan George

JR

RB

12

108

504

4.67

4

9

42

3

Jalen Whitlow

FR

QB

10

68

206

3.03

3

6.8

20.6

4

Dyshawn Mobley

FR

RB

12

41

184

4.49

0

3.42

15.33

Total




12

403

1665

4.13

13

33.58

138.75

Comparing running back production between the 2012 and 2013 seasons demonstrates that overall UK has rushed on average for more yards per game despite having a tougher schedule and the graduation of NFL second round pick Larry Warford and NFL free agent signee Matt Smith on the offensive line. It also illustrates the diversity in UK's ball carriers as opposed to last season when Raymond Sanders and Jon George received the vast majority of the carries. Both JoJo Kemp and Sanders have the opportunity to rush for more yards than Sanders' team best mark of 669 yards last season.

2013














Name

Yr

Pos

Games

Att

Comp

Pct.

Yards

Yards/Att

TD

Int

Rating

Att/G

Yards/G

Maxwell Smith

SO

QB

7

129

70

54.3

873

6.8

6

1

124.9

18.4

124.7

Jalen Whitlow

SO

QB

8

103

67

65

690

6.7

5

1

135.4

12.9

86.3

Total



8

232

137

59.1

1563

6.7

11

2

129.57

29

195.4















2012














Maxwell Smith

SO

QB

4

150

103

68.7

975

6.5

8

4

135.54

37.5


Jalen Whitlow

FR

QB

10

161

87

54

801

5

3

2

99.5

16.1


Patrick Towles

FR

QB

5

40

19

47.5

233

5.8

1

1

99.68

8


Total



12

387

220

56.8

2115

5.5

13

10

108.67

32.3

176.3

These numbers also show an increase in averaging passing yards a game. Perhaps most importantly, compare this year's TD:Interception ratio with last year's. UK quarterbacks have only thrown for two interceptions two-thirds of the way through the season while last year the quarterbacks were responsible for 7 picks by the end of the year. Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow's performances leave their coaches frustrated at times, but this is evidence of better decision-making. Whitlow has also seen an eleven percent improvement in his completion percentage, and he is on pace to throw for more yards this season in 8 games than he did in the 8 games he played in last year. Additionally, his quarterback rating has improved by 30 points.

2013










Name

Yr

Pos

G

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Rec./G

Yards/G

Javess Blue

JR

WR

7

28

345

12.32

2

4

49.3

Ryan Timmons

FR

ATH

8

27

295

10.93

2

3.4

36.9

Jeff Badet

FR

WR

5

11

173

15.73

1

2.2

34.6

Demarco Robinson

JR

WR

7

12

140

11.67

2

1.7

20

Alexander Montgomery

FR

WR

8

16

137

8.56

2

2

17.1

Anthony Kendrick

SR

TE

5

7

120

17.14

0

1.4

24

Jordan Aumiller

SR

TE

7

8

70

8.75

0

1.1

10

Total



8

137

1563

11.41

11

17.1

195.4

2012










La'Rod King

SR

WR

12

48

488

10.17

4

4

40.7

Demarco Robinson

SO

WR

12

28

297

10.61

0

2.3

24.8

Aaron Boyd

SR

WR

12

24

233

9.71

2

2

19.4

Jonathan George

JR

RB

12

21

223

10.62

1

1.8

18.6

Daryl Collins

FR

WR

12

17

171

10.06

0

1.4

14.3

Gene McCaskill

SR

WR

12

18

153

8.5

2

1.5

12.8

Total



12

220

2115

9.61

13

18.3

176.3

The most dramatic transformation may be by the wide receiver corps. The 2012 season saw La'Rod King receive the vast majority of receptions, but just like the 2013 running backs, a plurality of wide receivers are being targeted. Javess Blue and Ryan Timmons lead the team in receptions despite Blue missing the game against Alabama State and Timmons having some difficulty as of late catching the ball. They are followed by a now healthy Demarco Robinson and the now injured Alexander Montgomery. It's possible that Blue or Timmons surpasses La'Rod King's leading total of 48 receptions last season despite the increase in their teammates' competition. With Montgomery now injured it's also possible that Jeff Badet, Robinson, and our tight ends all catch roughly 20 receptions. Finally, notice the average reception yards per game and average yards per catch have increased across the board. This demonstrates how much better this team's wide receivers are at making yards after the catch. Even if Blue or Timmons don'y surpass King's reception total from last year they will likely surpass his total receiving yards due to their abilities to create after catching the ball.

Looking through the CFB Stats database, reiterates the improvement of this offense over previous UK seasons 8 games in. The 2013 team averages 357 yards of total offense a game, and that places it ahead of every UK offense since 2007 with the exception of the 2007 team (featuring a cast of Andre Woodson, Jacob Tamme, Rafael Little, Keenan Burton, and Stevie Johnston) and the 2010 team (Randall Cobb, Mike Hartline, Derrick Locke, and Chris Matthews). Nonetheless, the 2013 team still rushes for more yards per game than either of those teams ( 2013: 162 yards/game; 2010: 158 yards/game; 2007: 155 yards/game). The 2013 team's offensive production is putting up these numbers without the benefit of talent the 2010 and 2007 teams had.


Total Offense (per game)

2007

443


2010

427.8


2013

357.6


2009

331.5


2012

315


2008

299


2011

259.8


A modest increase of one to three more victories per season may be closer to achievement than superficially believed. The special teams play has improved field position, converted field goals, and cut down on costly errors. The offense has performed admirably despite lingering personnel issues and a tough schedule. The infusion of new coaching and talent has improved these areas of the team fairly quickly while the defense is surprisingly lagging behind. The 2014 Class currently has commits from four defensive players from the JUCO ranks who will be expected to contribute immediately; meanwhile, two of this year's freshmen defensive tackles redshirted and will come in next year with more experience and be physically better prepared. If the 2014 defense makes the improvements the 2013 offense and special teams have made, then next year could be the start of exciting developments.

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