One trope football coaches and fans at traditionally powerless programs too often cling to is the myth of offensive balance. While there is a certain value in making your opponent protect the line to open up passing lanes, or vice versa keeping the defense on its heels by passing occasionally, as this edition of the Wildcats proves, sometimes you can overfocus on balance.
It's true that Kentucky has a luxury in Rafael Little, an honestly talented scatterback. But Little's value is not maximized as part of a punishing ground game. Like his predecessor Artose Pinner, Little is a multi-purpose back, and as such is most dangerous catching passes from the backfield. This is especially true given that -- against most teams -- the UK offensive line can't consistently create and hold open the holes necessary to really spring Little free.
As this piece piece in the Herald-Leader posits, the UK air game has been the team's most effective constant.
Thus far, the Wildcats' 'balance' is in passing's favor by a tidy sum. Offense through the air has contributed 485 yards to 200 for the ground game. Additionally, of the Cats' 10 touchdowns, 6 have come in the air (all off the arm of sophomore starter Andre Woodson), just 3 on the ground (the other was Keenan Burton's 100-yard kickoff return against UL).
Two games into the season, Woodson is 12th in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 172.2. This may surprise some, but not me.
The reason? UK has talented skill players in Woodson, Burton and Little. Its strength lies in its deep threat, in Woodson's pedigree and in taking the game to the opponent. For some reason, this has seemingly been the case since forever. Only trickster God Hal "Loki" Mumme fed the beast, turning the Cats into the gridiron version of Pitino's Bombinos of the 1990 season -- a ragtag anomaly that captured the attention of UK's beaten-down fanbase and the national media with his fast break offense.
While each coach is different, what I am suggesting is that the Kentucky staff quit trying to turn the offense into a mini-Tennessee or mini-Alabama. Let's face the truth: the Cats cannot beat SEC teams, even the other bad ones, by trying to outclass them. Not yet, anyway.
Play to your strengths and air the ball out.
Obviously, there are caveats. There is a time for prudence, and for keeping the defense guessing. But if two games tell us anything (an arguable point, to be sure), they tell us that this year's Cats will win via pushing the passing game and supplementing it with a running threat in Little and Tony Dixon, not the other way around.