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Kentucky Football: Analyzing and Charting Wildcats' Passing Game

We break down the Kentucky passing game and where the most success is being found compared to where the Cats desperately need to improve upon.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After the hapless loss to Florida, I decided to take a look at where the Kentucky Wildcats' version of the Air Raid attack was striking at the defense.

Mainly I was curious as to where and to who Towles was making his attempts. I wanted to look at all passing plays regardless of outcome (complete, incomplete, intercepted or occurring on plays where unrelated penalties negated the play).  I also excluded Red Zone attempts since  the offensive aerial attack shifts into a different mode with the reduced receiving zone. While the aftermath of the Florida game piqued my interest, I went on to also include data for the Missouri game.

Since the results lend themselves to graphical representation I'll show the results in pretty graphs instead of tabular format as some folks get glassy eyed when looking at tables of numbers.

The first graph shows all of Towles pass attempts through the first four games. The line of scrimmage is towards the left and each symbol on the field indicates the location on the field where the attempt was intended. Yards after catch (YAC) is not included in the play if it was a completion. Draw your own conclusions.


Next, I wanted to look at two critical play scenarios - 1st and 10, 3rd and Long. On first down UK is passing about 60% of the time. Below you can see where Towles has spread the distance pretty well except for a greater concentration of passes a bit shy of first down yardage where the receiver is expected to make up the difference with his YAC.

And where are these passes going? Towles is distributing the ball well with Dorian Baker the most used target, but enough other receivers are being involved on 1st down plays to keep the defense honest. While more passes have been thrown towards Baker, Blake Bone has actually performed better by only having one incomplete pass when involved and if memory serves me correct; that was a bad pass by Towles during the Florida game.

Then we move on to 3rd and Long, that miserable down that has proven to be UK's Mt. Everest. The air attack has whittled the problem down with a number of options that will only get better with experience. Most notable in this being the fact that NOT throwing to Jeff Badet, Baker, Boom Williams or Garrett Johnson has been UK's best completion rate. Six of seven completed among Bone, Mikel Horton, Charles Walker and Jojo Kemp.

Lastly was a quick look at overall targets and productivity. Below are three quick bar charts showing the number of times each receiver has been targeted then the comparative completion rates and finally the yards/completion, which DO include the YAC.

That's all I got for now but if there's something you'd like to see generated, just ask.

UPDATE: Per request here's the last three graphs in table form