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Oct 21

Kentucky vs. Jax St. Preview

Posted by: Ralph Lee at 2:04 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

This weekend, the University of Kentucky (2-4) football team will begin the 2nd half of its 2011 schedule when they host Jacksonville St. (5-2) out of FCS Division. For the Cats the season started off 2-0 although there were early concerns about the anemic offense. Those concerns would only be heightened over the next four games, all losses and all but one by 4 touchdowns or more. In all 4 losses the Cats were held under 250 yds of total offense and not since the U of L game have they put up more than 1 TD in a game. So with two weeks to basically get ready for Jacksonville St., it will be interesting to see what, if any changes Joker Phillips and his staff have made.

They have to get the offense going because State will not be easy to defeat, regardless of the division they play in because they are an athletic team that will not be intimidated. They also have former Georgia RB, Wasuan Ealey on the team…….that would be the same Ealey who ran for over 130 yds and 2 TDs last year against the Cats when he as playing for the Bulldogs. So while the “O” line at J’Ville St. may not be the Georgia offensive line, Ealey has proven skills and UK will have to slow him down early.

The defense may have to carry the load (i.e. WKU & Central Michigan) if the Cats are going to win, but if that is the case and the offense has not improved “one single iota”, then this will be the last game they will win all season. I would like to think I know better than that and I expect better than that from Joker and his staff. So I will say UK gets the “W”, but it may not be real pretty… give me the Cats 28 – J’Ville St. 20.

Oct 15

The Off-Week Blues

Posted by: Ralph Lee at 2:06 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

With the weekend upon us and the Kentucky Wildcats on a bye week, you have to find other games of interest. That will not be hard to due as some of this weekend’s match-ups will play a pivotal role in the BCS poll as well as conference races. There are still several undefeated teams that will get a stiff test Saturday and those should make for some thrilling contests. With that being said, let me tell you the games worth keeping an eye on.

#11 Michigan (6-0) vs. #23 Michigan St. (4-1) – In recent years this game has had little or no impact in the National scheme of college football because one or the other has been on the downslide; well this year is different. Michigan comes in, winners of the first 6 games of the Brady Hoke era, and they have done it in a variety of ways. On offense, they boast one of the most dangerous players in all of college football in Denard “Shoelace” Robinson and a defense that is seemingly improving each week. In fact, the Wolverines are near the top in defensive statistics in the 2nd half of games; in fact only 3 of their 6 opponents even dented the scoreboard after halftime. For the Spartans they have had week off to prepare for this game. Last year, they forced Robinson into 3 INTs and knocked him out of the game late in the 2nd half as the Spartans routed the Wolverines. Spartan’s QB Kirk Cousins must be sharper than he was in their 10-7 victory over Ohio St. 2 weeks ago when he threw 3 picks and missed a ton of open receivers.
#6 Oklahoma St. (5-0) vs. #22 Texas (4-1) – The Cowboys are fresh off of a 70-28 wood-shed game against Kansas and their offense does not appear to be slowing down; they led 56-7 at the half last week! QB Brandon Weeden is thedirector of this potent offense and unless you can put pressure on him, he will pick your defense apart all game long. The Longhorns will have to try and pull it together after they were destroyed by Oklahoma last week. Mack Brown knew his team would be young but a 4-0 start had Longhorn fans on “cloud 9”; but they fell hard to earth last week. The offense was exposed as not being very good, as was the defense. Texas needs to stand tall this week or risk possibly falling apart for the rest of the season.
# 15 South Carolina (5-1) vs. Mississippi St. (3-3) – At the start of the season this was one of the “prized” games circled on the calendar for both of these teams. Well the luster on this match-up has faded just a bit, mainly due to the troubles in Starkville, particularly with the offense. The Bulldogs offense has been non-existent as of late, in fact against the three SEC (0-3) opponents they have already played, they are averaging less than 2 TDs a game. They managed just 21 pts. against 0-4 UAB last week and they even benched QB, Chris Relf. For South Carolina, the past week has been turbulent due to the fact that QB Stephen Garcia was kicked-off the squad for what will be the last time. But the Gamecocks are fresh off of a good performance by QB Connor Shaw against UK last week so I would say Spurrier feels good with Shaw as the starter right now. The Bulldogs can’t afford to go to 0-4 within the conference and still maintain high hopes of going “Bowling” at the end of the season. South Carolina wants to maintain the leg-up it has on Georgia in the race for the SEC East, a loss here puts Georgia in the driver’s seat.
#18 Arizona St. (5-1) vs. #9 Oregon (4-1) – This game out west could be the most intriguing of all this weekends games, if you can stay up to watch it. The Ducks are anything but healthy as they will not have star RB LaMichael James (injured elbow / arm) and his back-up was even dinged up last week. Oregon at times does not look to have the same flow to their offense as they had last season. The receiving group is “suspect” at best and when you are without your RB that is not good. The Sun Devils are a possession or two away from being 6-0 (lost at Illinois) and they are a team that rides their defense. The defense is an attacking group that goes sideline-to-sideline as well as any defense in the nation not named LSU or Alabama. For Arizona St, this is a statement game and a chance to maybe get some national attention. For Chip Kelley and the Ducks, this game is about trying to keep their hopes alive for another shot at the BCS Title game.
Florida (4-2) vs. #24 Auburn (4-2) – Well this game may not impact the national scene as it typically can but it will impact the SEC race. The Gators are losers of two straight, both blow-out losses and now they will play their second straight road game without QB John Brantley. The Gators running game (Demps & Rainey) has been stifled for 2 consecutive weeks and the defense has not been good either. For Auburn, it is all about scheme and timing. Yes the Tigers were smashed in Fayetteville last week, but they are still 4-2 with a good chance to get win# 5 Saturday; most people were wondering if Auburn had enough to get 6 wins total this season. RB Michael Dyer has been on a tear lately and when he gets going, he is good for 100+ yds. The problem has been the below average play of QB Barrett Trotter, especially over the last 3 weeks. He seems to be more of a game manager than a vital piece and the Tiger faithful just don’t seem to be dealing with that well after having Cam Newton last season. The winner still stays in the race both in their division and within the conference. The loser may as well forget about a conference title.

Oct 13

Rumblin’ With Ralph: State of the Cats

Posted by: Ralph Lee at 2:42 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

With this week off, the Kentucky Wildcats are officially half way through the 2011 football campaign and the first 6 games have been somewhat of a disappointment (2-4). When the schedule first came out, the thought was that UK would be 3-3 at worse with a distant shot at 4-2 should Florida not be as good as what some might have thought. The Cats were not expected to be able to “hold a candle” to either LSU or South Carolina so those were expected losses. The problem was UK was slow out of the gate against Western KY and Central Michigan, needing strong second half performances (shut-outs in both games after half-time) by their “D” to win both of those games. The issue in both of those games was all offensive, particularly the line play and the lack of a passing attack. Those two problems would only get worse when they played U of L (24-17 loss) and since then it has only been magnified by the last three losses 48-10, 35-7 and 54-3, all games in which UK managed less than 200 yds of total offense. In fact, in almost every offensive statistical category (SEC and NCAA), UK ranks either last or near the bottom. So with another week to go before they take the field again against Jacksonville St. (FCS opponent), what if anything can the Cats do to stop the bleeding in terms of their lack of offense and try to get themselves bowl eligible.

For beginners, they can try and make some adjustments on the offensive line, especially in terms of line blocking assignments. I know it may seem crazy for a team that has been horrendous thru the air, but the Cats will need to spread things out and try to create mismatches on the outside. My suggestion would be to use the TE more, possibly even two TEs; they would mainly be in there to bolster your blocking and not so much as pass catchers. The next thing would be to put your QB (Newton or Smith) in the shotgun formation unless you are in short-yardage situations. Newton has struggled mightily whether it be dropped balls, over-thrown balls or whether he has been sacked or hit in the pocket, he has had “zero” success as a passer (10 completions in his last 40 attempts for 72 pass yds). By putting these guys in shot-gun, you give them and extra couple of seconds to see the field and go thru their progressions. The next thing is to realize that with your best RB, Clemons out for the year now, they will either need to go with 1 TE and 1 RB (mainly a blocker or safety valve on pass plays)& 3 WR , 1 TE, 4 WR & empty backfield or 2 TE & 3 WR & empty back field.

With these types of sets, what you want and need from your QB is rhythm passing which will be predicated on the pre-snap reads they make. The main cog in the passing game when you spread the field is a slant route. The reason why is because you can use the inside WR to clear out (set an inadvertent pick) not only his man but the corner on the outside receiver thereby leaving the outside WR some room to operate after making the catch. This also gets the ball out of the QB’s hands quickly thereby cutting down the pressure he will come under. Other passing routes that you generally run out of a spread are bubble screens, quick outs to the sidelines and comeback routes (8-12 yds). Occasionally you can take a shot deep down the field because of all the short stuff being run, but you have to pick and choose your spots. There will be times that you have to run draw plays out of the spread or maybe even toss sweeps but the running game would not be primary.

It is clear that Randy Sanders offensive scheme is not suited for this team right now, especially based on the play of the line and the QB spot. So the best way to alleviate some of the issues is just go spread (i.e. NFL version of the spread, Patriots and Colts) and take your chances that way. The expectations or at least the hope for the next six games are 4-2 but to do that, you have to get the offense going. Starting with Jacksonville St., a win is a must here. After that, the Cats will see the likes of Ole Miss, Mississippi St., Vanderbilt, LSU and Georgia, just not in this order. So if they are sitting at 3-4 heading into the rest of the SEC schedule then you can start trying to figure where the wins would come to get them to bowl eligibility. Ole Miss (just 2 wins) and Vandy (been blown out in their last two) appear to be two good chances but neither are “gimmees”. If they were playing UT while Tyler Bray was out, then their chances of winning would go up. State seems to still be in a funk from their three early SEC losses and they look vulnerable right now. The only team that seems to have found themselves and is not playing injured is Georgia so that one may not be favorable, even if the offense got going. There is still plenty of football to play but if the UK offense does not find itself beginning next Saturday then the rest of the season may be even worse than the first half was.

Oct 11

Joker On Losing Clemmons and Where We Go From Here

Posted by: Ryan at 3:00 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Oct 9

That’s Going To Leave A Scar: UK Coaches On The 54-3 USC Haymaker

Posted by: Ryan at 8:33 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

http://youtu.be/VA2duFduli0

http://youtu.be/3D3dkWKyvDY

(videos courtesy John Clay Kentucky.com)

 

Oct 4

Joker On Who’s Going To Step Up And Make A Play

Posted by: Ryan at 4:57 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Oct 2

What Do You Think Is The Main Issue With Kentucky’s Offense

Posted by: Ryan at 9:22 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football


Losing sucks and the Kentucky offense has been putrid thus far this season. In Kentucky’s 5 games the Cats have struggled to get anything going and in the 3 losses you know the story. In reality, the defense has played quite well over this tough stretch of games, if we could score at all the outcomes would not look or feel as bad as they do. Its pretty hard to point the finger at just one thing that needs to be fixed immediately, it’s more of a collaborative thing working together to be this bad. But that’s me. What about you? What is the main issue with the Offense? Your comments are welcome.

Oct 2

Rick Minter Talks About the “X” Plays

Posted by: Ryan at 9:10 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

(Video Courtesy John Clay Kentucky.com)
Oct 2

Morgan Newton After Yesterday’s Loss

Posted by: Ryan at 9:07 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Sep 30

Kentucky vs LSU – Preview

Posted by: Ralph Lee at 10:41 am | Leave a Comment (2)
Category: Football

 

This Saturday the Kentucky Wildcats will travel down to Baton Rouge to face the #1 ranked LSU Tigers. The Cats are coming off of back-to-back losses (Louisville & Florida) and looking to find some sort of offensive fire power. For LSU, they are fresh off of their third win over a ranked team (Oregon, Mississippi St. & West Virginia) already this season, an accomplishment that allowed them to leap-frog Oklahoma in the polls. Kentucky was thoroughly outmanned against Florida as they were unable to slow down the Gators back-field and they could not sustain offensive drives to give their defense any rest. For LSU it has been a tenacious defense and a surprising offense that has propelled them to a 4-0 start. For UK to have any chance against LSU, they must be able to run the ball at least enough to slow down the LSU pass rush. If they can’t, Morgan Newton will be running for his life literally all afternoon. The best remedy to allow him any success in the passing game may be to put him in the “Shotgun” most of the afternoon to shorten his drop-back steps; screen passes and quick hitting routes may be the best shot the Cats have in the passing game. For Les Miles, it will be about his young team staying hungry and not getting sidetracked because it is Kentucky. The last time these two teams played and LSU was #1, the Cats pulled off the upset victory in Lexington, KY. In fact these two teams have played a couple of memorable games over the last 6 years or so including the “hailmary” touchdown victory by LSU in Lexington when it seemed that there was now way for the Cats to lose that game. The Tigers were installed as heavy favorites in this game (28 pts) and judging by the way UK was spanked by Florida that is understandable. But if the Cats are going to show that they are still trying to fight, it has to start this weekend. They have to embrace the role of the “underdog” and approach the game with an “us against the world” or “nothing to lose” mindset. However, the game is on the road and clearly the better talent and team is the home team…………I say the Cats may hang around for a quarter but in the end, talent trumps heart in this one……….LSU 37 – UK 6.