Cats Looking to Build on Early-Game Offensive Success
The Kentucky offense has gotten off to good starts the last three games. Now, offensive coordinator Liam Coen is trying to get those good vibes to continue further into the game.
The Cats have scored a touchdown on their first drive in each of their last three games. Coen thinks he knows why.
“Scripting, having some of that stuff scripted and ready to go,” Coen said. “That’s something that we’ve done over the last few games. Going into it, we tell the kids what the openers are, we practice them Thursday, Friday and then go in the game Saturday and execute them. That’s probably why we’ve had that early success.”
Another thing that has hurt the Cats as the games have gone on is turnovers. UK had three more miscues at South Carolina last week, costing themselves not only possession but the chance to run more offensive plays.
“If you add all of that up, that’s 12 plays, at the least that we left out there,” Coen said. “That’s hard to lose out on those possessions. You kind of get out of rhythm.”
Coen and the UK offensive staff are trying to emphasize ball security without making the issue too big. However, he also refers to a statement that his head coach has made.
“Coach Stoops says all the time, when you have the ball in your hands, you have the program in your hands,” Coen said. “It’s that important. It’s not just another play.”
And it’s getting more important as the schedule gets tougher, beginning this week against No. 10/9 Florida.
“Trying to emphasize how important it is, especially when we get into these caliber games,” Coen said. “We cannot give these teams extra possessions and we’re taking ourselves out of the game.”
Outside of the turnovers, Coen liked what he saw from his offense.
“From an execution standpoint, our jobs, the responsibilities and playing physical, there were not any issues there,” Coen said.
This week, Coen will match wits with Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, a veteran defensive coordinator who Kentucky has faced many times. Coen has seen a lot of film on the Gators already and has a description of them.
“Aggressive. He likes to try to move the front a bunch,” Coen said. “Gives you a ton of different looks in the back end, specifically on third down. He gives different looks each week, which makes it harder to prepare for.”
The other thing about this game is that Florida has run the ball very well so far this season and has the ability to control the clock. That might lead an offensive coordinator to try to take more shots, although Coen is not sure that is the best plan.
“You’ve got to stay patient,” Coen said. “We know they’re going to run the ball, they do a great job. It’s more so, for us it’s like, let’s do what we do, be us and be smart about our times to be aggressive so we don’t put our defense back on the field.”
And what can the Cats do to try to keep the ball away from the Gators?
“I think trying to mix up some tempos, to get them on their heels a little bit when you do have a little bit of momentum,” Coen said. “And get them on their heels and playing downhill to try to create some explosives that way.”
The Cats are hoping to get off to a fast start and to carry that momentum further into the game on Saturday against a very good Florida squad.