On Monday, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops faced the media for the first time since the loss at Vanderbilt, and yesterday after practice, Shannon Dawson got his opportunity to discuss what went wrong in Nashville and also the change at quarterback.
The Meltdown in Music City
Kentucky’s loss to the Commodores largely hinged on the offense’s inability to score inside the five-yard line. Dawson offered some insight into his play calling on the heavily scrutinized drives, specifically two heavily criticized pass plays.
"A lot of stuff down there is just run/pass. So you call a run, and you can throw it if you see the leverage you like and not throw it if you don’t see the leverage you like."
While Dawson admitted he would like to have those pass plays back, he said that the other blown chances to score hinged on execution.
"Everything else really had a chance to score. It was just all about execution and hitting it hard."
He also explained why Boom Williams was in the game rather than Jojo Kemp in goal line situations
"Part of our game plan in those situations Saturday was to really go fast when we got down there, because when they get lined up they’re pretty good. So, when we got down there a lot of the times I was just trying to tempo run. It just so happens that when you tempo run you can’t sub. Probably an error on my part."
The New QB on the Block
Dawson spends more time working with Drew Barker than anyone on the staff and so far he is pleased with how the freshmen have responded to his recent promotion.
"He’s been good.He’s had a lot of energy, and he’s excited about the opportunity."
Even though Barker seems to be responding well a quarterback’s first start is always an event that needs to be handled with care. Dawson believes that making sure Barker is comfortable is the most important thing, but he also said Barker’s temperament will help.
"Just making sure he’s comfortable. And he doesn’t have an issue with that. He was calm Saturday when he got in there. He’s a calm kid. I’m not worried at all by his demeanor. I’m really not."
Dawson also said that the QB switch will not drastically alter the game plan against Charlotte since Towles and Barker are not that different as signal callers.
"They’re not different enough to change. Does that make sense? It’s not like they have two widely different skill sets."
Medicine for Losing
Losing five straight is a hard pill to swallow, and Dawson knows the best medicine for that is to just win.
"Well, the best medicine is this game is winning, and we haven’t won in a while. That’s probably why everybody feels like they do. So, ultimately, to answer the question, yeah, it would do a lot better than the alternative. Right? So, you’ve got to take it week to week. That one’s a frustrating one, no doubt, because that falls directly on me and on us. So, we had about four or five plays that cost us dearly and I wish that I could take them back, but I can’t."
As for facing a Charlotte team that's nothing compared to the SEC, Dawson is trying to stress to his offense how important keeping the foot on the gas against even a weaker team is.
"Yeah, I think we’ve just got to stress it and have that mentality no matter who we go against really. I mean, typically things that you stress you get as coaches. Obviously it’s something we’re going to stress.