With the Kentucky Wildcats on their bye week, we gathered our staff to get their picks for who the offensive MVP has been through the first five games this season.
We did so with the notion that this could be a player, unit or coach/coordinator. Here's what we came up with.
I'm going with Dorian Baker. He's been money when the Cats needed him most as he's made big play after big play with UK trailing or looking to put away opponents late in recent weeks. After not scoring in his first three games, Baker has scored three times in his past two games, two of which coming to tie and then take the lead against EKU last week.
Against Missouri, his fourth-quarter score effectively put the game out of reach for Mizzou as UK scored one of their biggest wins of the Mark Stoops era. I still can't get over how tough and clutch of a catch he made on 4th-and-3 against EKU to send the game into overtime last week.
Baker is only a true sophomore with only 13 games under his belt, but he looks like an SEC receiver, something UK has had few of since Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews left in 2011.
I have to go with Boom Williams. He’s averaging 7.3 yards per carry, and even though he didn’t have a great game against Missouri and sat out last week, he’s been a dynamic offensive force.
Even though he has been shaky at times and had a bad game against Florida, I am going to have to go with Patrick Towles. So far this season he has thrown for 1,153 yards, eight touchdowns, six interceptions, has a passer rating of 132.9, and he's completed 61.5% of his passes. He's also rushed for three touchdowns. Towles is the most valuable player on offense because if he is on, the entire offense runs as efficiently as most offenses in the country.
Take into account the first half of the ULL game, the first half of the South Carolina game, and the entirety of the Missouri game, and you can see how good this team can be when Towles is at his best. Shannon Dawson is new and he continues to figure out his starting QB and what makes him tick. If the two of them can get on the same page, and a little more blocking from the offensive line, then the sky is the limit for the offense.
Going Boom Williams here. With the exception of the last game against Missouri, Boom has been UK's most consistent offensive threat. Averaging over seven yards per carry, including the 75-yard explosion on the first play of the season, Boom has been one of the SEC's best backs in a conference stacked with great backs.
Can you vote none of the above? It is tough to pick one guy, we have had struggles at times and it is not limited to just one or two people. I would go Garrett "Juice" Johnson at this point. He leads the team in yards (278), and yards per Game (55.6) while being second in catches (19). He seems to be the only guy who has not dropped a ball and he has been electric every time he has gotten in space.
I'm going with center Jon Toth. While I can't cite chapter and verse, he has easily been the most consistent UK lineman, and more importantly, he has been able to avoid injury and provide some stability for a group that has needed it badly. The o-line was touted for its experience prior to this year, and Toth is one guy who you can say has played like someone with 23 career starts under his belt coming in.
Honorable Mention: Boom Williams, who will undoubtedly get things straightened out and be a force going forward and Garrett Johnson, who should be an All-SEC receiver before all is said and done.
For my offensive MVP, I am going with the running back group. Boom Williams, JoJo Kemp, and Mikel Horton have each come up big late in all four of Kentucky's wins this season. Horton's touchdown run to take the lead over UL-Lafayette, Boom running the clock out against South Carolina, and JoJo doing the same against Missouri. Just a couple of years ago, Kentucky would not have been able to put games away by running the ball late to pick up first downs and run out the clock. A portion of that credit should go to the offensive line, but Kentucky's running backs have been valuable early this season.
Since it was offered as an option I'm going to go with a coach - Shannon Dawson. Entering the season we had a new OC that seemed to be enthusiastically accepted by his players, engaging to the press and vetted to be an Air Raid disciple. In addition, there were glowing reports of our offense and its evolution; then reality of actual games appeared to somewhat overwhelm someone five years removed from play calling.
Perhaps it's a bit premature to declare he's "got it" but the Missouri game showed he's constructively self-critical and raising his game. Even in the Florida game he was already showing acuity with glimpses of some exceptional calls that caught Florida flat-footed.
My offensive player MVP season to date? Jojo Kemp. I don't think anyone who looks at his numbers will be confused as to why. If they can't figure it out from the stats, have them check in with Steve Spurrier....he just LOVES seeing Jojo on the field. ;-)
So who is your pick for offensive MVP? Let us know in the comments section.