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Big Blue Blueprint: A Statistical Path to the Postseason


blueprint-freddie

In just a few weeks, Nick Roush and I will be traveling to Birmingham for SEC Media Days. Throughout the summer I’ve frequently been asked, “How can the Cats win six games”? The answer is complicated. There’s no player that is elite enough or in a strategic position that can single-handedly carry UK to the postseason. Thus, this post will address six statistical categories that require improvement:

 

timmons-markzerof-usatoday

Scoring Offense

2015: 24.7 points per game.

2016 Goal: 29.7 points per game.

— One way to score more points is to eliminate dropped passes, especially those of the end-zone variety. With the vast majority of returning receivers having significant game experience, there will be zero excuse for this trend to continue. From Dorian Baker to Ryan Timmons, all eyes will be on the talented yet customarily unreliable group of pass catchers.

— Score touchdowns in the red-zone. Field goals keep you close; touchdowns win games. Do I really need to discuss the Vanderbilt debacle again?

— Lessen required yardage to convert on third down. Conversely, improve yardage gained on first down. On far too many occasions, the Cats played behind the chains.


 

boom-at-florida

Rushing Yards Per Game

2015: 162 yards per game.

2016 Goal: 195 yards per game.

— UK runners have to increase their endurance and stamina. Attrition is natural for the position, but the old adage rings true to this day, “can’t make the club in the tub.” Long runs from scrimmage need to finish in the end-zone.

— Eddie Gran inherits a position which I feel was mismanaged in previous seasons. Nonsensical substitution patterns coupled by the mid-season Boom Williams situation, there seemed to be turbulence within the running back corps. I don’t suspect this will be an issue in 2016.

— The Wildcats have four RBs with game experience including Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp, who have combined for 2,701 career yards. The two veterans provide a formidable one-two punch. OC Eddie Gran favors the power run. The Cats’ offensive line strength is at Guard and Center. Of all the categories, I’m most confident in saying that rushing for 195 yards per game goal will be accomplished.


 

drew-barker7

Passing Completion Percentage

2015: 54.9

2016 Goal: 62.5

— Let’s be perfectly honest, when talking heads and coaches say that UK’s pass completion percentage needs to increase, they are directly speaking of or at Drew Barker. Last season, Barker completed 50% of his passes to go along with 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 364 yards. Even with those suspect numbers, it quickly became obvious that Mark Stoops and staff felt that Barker’s ceiling was much higher than the departed Patrick Towles. Barker showed improvement during spring practice. However, the proof will lie within his results on September 3.

— Barker’s pocket presence and fundamentals must continue to improve. At times against Louisville, he appeared lost. In all fairness, the entire offense had the same facial expression and body language. Having a dedicated quarterback coach (Darin Hinshaw) should cure pocket deficiencies, confidence issues, and improve decision making ability. Again referencing spring practice, there were distinct instances of Barker’s enhanced technique.

— Patrick Towles and Drew Barker faced with far too many 3rd-and-Forever downs. These situations forced both to throw low percentage vertical or deep routes.

— Complete high percentage throws. With confidence comes accuracy. Accuracy initiates momentum. Momentum leads to touchdowns.


 

via UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Total Yards Surrendered Per Game

2015: 394.2

2016 Goal: 355

— In the 3-4 defense, nose tackles Matt Elam and Naquez Pringle’s obligation to provide interior push and occupy blockers are paramount tasks. If not successful in one or the other, offensive linemen will have free reign to get their hands on linebackers.

— By estimation, Coach House’s inside linebackers have less than 100 college snaps under their belts. Disciplined key reading and intelligent pursuit angles will come with trial and error results. Courtney Love needs to be who we think he is. In other words, Love needs to take control of the defense.

— 17 Quarterback Sacks and 53 Tackles for Loss were embarrassingly low totals. Forcing action across the line-of-scrimmage, or disruption plays, are principal.


 

Ware eyes down the running back, via Gary Moyer of The Cats' Pause

Ware eyes down the running back, via Gary Moyer of The Cats’ Pause

Quarterback Sacks

2015: 17

2016 Goal: 28

— Although young, Kentucky’s secondary is as talented and skilled as any UK grouping I can remember from the past two decades. But IF there is no pass rush, an average at best SEC quarterback will pick them apart.

— Southern Miss’ Nick Mullens will test the Wildcat pass rush in week one. Using Mullens as an example, if a 4,000-yard passer is given four to five seconds to dissect coverages, only bad things will happen.

— Courtney Miggins, Regie Meant, Kengera Daniel, Denzil Ware, and others will be called upon to influence opposing quarterbacks on a consistent basis. DJ Eliot may have to institute creative blitz packages if his defensive linemen are not successful. Cornerback and Nickel blitzes can only help, but also places defensive backs in precarious situations. Thus, the front three defensive linemen must win a higher percentage of one-on-one pass rush scenarios.


 

Punting

2015: 39.60 yards per punt.

2016 Goal: 42 yards per punt.

— In 2015, Kentucky finished 14th or bad enough for last in the SEC.

— Inconsistent punting along with substandard kicks in crucial moments of critical games were highly influential in the season’s outcome. No sugar coating this one, the punt team has a great deal of work to do.

— As the only scholarship punter on the roster, true freshman Grant McKinniss has no other choice than to grow up in a hurry.

 

The goals provided above aren’t intended to place Kentucky at the top of the SEC’s statistical categories. The proposed numbers would rank the Cats in mid-pack. If these benchmarks are met, Kentucky will play in the postseason. If not, then for the fourth consecutive year, postseason narrative could again read “one or two plays away.”

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

54 responses to “Big Blue Blueprint: A Statistical Path to the Postseason”

  1. DelrayCat

    Good Lord, Elam sure is a big man. Somebody screwed up by not making him an offensive tackle. He is entirely to big to play D-line effectively. All the best ones in the pros are around six foot tall and 310-330. Elam is 6-7, 360. Too much leverage required for a man that size. That’s why his stance is terrible and has no interior push. Saban would have changed his position.

    1. Billy Hill

      Delray is as good of a coach as Nick Saban, ladies and gentlemen.

    2. Sentient Third Eye

      A six-seven offensive lineman make it’s really hard for a QB who is 6-2 to 6-4 (on average) to survey the field.

    3. BluKudzu

      As slow as Elam is off the ball, I would never have him protecting the QB, unless of course, you hate the QB. He can’t play defense, I would hate to see him try to block a LB or DE. Disaster.

  2. scorpiocard

    Big Blue Blueprint: A Statistical Path to the Postseason

    1. Go to ticketmaster.com
    2. Create an account
    3. Purchase tickets to bowl games other teams not named Kentucky actually will be playing in

    There…fixed it for you Freddie. No charge.

    1. Billy Hill

      Alternative method:

      1. Play in weak conferences that are now defunct
      2. Pretend you are a powerhouse in a powerhouse conference

    2. scorpiocard
    3. scorpiocard
    4. Billy Hill

      WHOA!! Watch out for FSU and Clemson!!!! :O

    5. Billy Hill

      So what you’re saying is, Louisville football is about third best in a basketball conference?

    6. UK Big Board Update

      I see VirgoTard is back for validation from BBN.

      He thought UL was such a power house that there was no way Charlie Strong would leave for Texas. Except, he did. And, for fear of losing to UK, they hired the biggest piece of scum not named Pitino back as their head coach. LMAO Only at Louisville.

    7. UK Big Board Update

      “scorpiocard says:
      December 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm
      No one! turns down Texas? How ridiculous. Cracks me up how simple minded folks always think they know what someones else’s career priorities are.

      Jim Tom you know what else comes with the Texas job? CRAZY fan base expectations. If a new coach had one bad season their life would become a living hell. *****Charlie Strong is also a devoted family man with two daughters in their final years of high school. He’s not going to move them for ANY job. He may leave after they graduate. Sure its possible. Before they do? No way.

      Your idiotic response makes me laugh.*******

      Yeah, he ACTUALLY BELIEVED that shit. And he expects us to take his ass seriously?

    8. UK Big Board Update
    9. scorpiocard

      LMAO!

      FSU and Clemson are national champion and national champion runner up in the last three seasons. Both are in every preseason top 5 ranking, with Clemson ranked #1 in several.

      Louisville is every top 25, and ranked in the teens in several polls.

      The NFL says Louisville is one of five schools expected to “dominate” the 2017 NFL draft

      http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000661123/article/five-schools-that-could-be-next-to-dominate-nfl-draft

      Ha Ha Ha..you don”t know much do you?

      a uk fan making fun of FSU and Clemson. That’s about as funny as it gets.

    10. scorpiocard

      Yeah Big Board I thought Charlie was smart enough to wait for the Florida job to open up. Now that his ass is firmly on the hot seat at Texas, how do you think he is feeling about his decision?

      Amazing how much pleasure you get from me getting a prediction wrong almost three years ago LMAO!

    11. Billy Hill

      You’re talking about past teams, right? Not current ones? Thats hilarious. Is Jameis Winston expected to start this year? And yeah, Clemson may be ranked number one, but that doesnt make you number 2.

      Thats like Auburn bragging about challenging UK in basketball in the SEC.

      Meanwhile, the rest of the country is laughing, or disgusted by, Louisville.

    12. scorpiocard

      oh…are btw

      I get all the validation I need from the preseason polls and predictions. I know you poor poor uk fans have no reason to look at those every year.

    13. scorpiocard

      @Billy

      WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA???

      Clemson and FSU are both preseason top 5 teams THIS season?

      U of L is preseason top 25 THIS season.

      You’re just getting stupid now.

    14. UK Big Board Update

      To take a page from the UL troll books:

      All that talent and no national titles? LOL

      Are you going to hang a banner for winning the NFL Draft? LOL

      And yeah, I’m going to bring that comment up, because you were so certain Charlie was a #louisvilleman. Plus, it showcases how little you know about anything.

    15. Billy Hill

      That must be why you’re here all the time…..

    16. UK Big Board Update

      Cool. UK has been ranked in the Top 25 before. We also have a national championship.

    17. Billy Hill

      “you’re idiotic response makes me laugh” hahahah, thats the best part!!

    18. UK Big Board Update

      LMAO, RIGHT?!?!? 😂😂😂😂😂

    19. UK Big Board Update

      LMAO even UL fans hate scorpiocard. Search it on Twitter some time, sit back, and laugh.

    20. scorpiocard

      Ok well if you get that much of a charge out of it knock yourself out. I mean why get a life? Am I right?

      So one thing I got wrong means I know nothing? What is that? Stupid cayut fan logic.

      No you do not have a football national championship. Just no.

      http://www.ncaa.com/history/football/fbs

      Hmmm…there seems to be a name missing from the above list. (yeah LMAO)

      I wouldn’t talk about fellow fans hating me if I were you. I’m not here everyday, but obviously I have been here enough to know that you are despised on here. True there were several people on CC who didn’t like me speaking my mind on Pitino. Obviously I didn’t care what they thought.

    21. UK Big Board Update

      See, that’s where you’re wrong. I am despised on here by the UL TROLLS and haters, who I call out. There’s a difference. I don’t expect them to like me.

      Now, go jerk off to the latest “ACC power rankings” 😂😂😂😂

    22. scorpiocard

      Ha ha ha I have seen uk fans call you every name in the book on here, and talk about you on threads you were not even posting on.

      But whatever…

      Go cry over the latest SEC power rankings 😉

    23. scorpiocard

      GO CATS!!!

    24. UK Big Board Update

      Again, those are trolls and haters from other fan bases. I know it’s a difficult concept to grasp.

    25. Sentient Third Eye

      The good thing about when the Card trolls show up is that we all get to brush up on our roman numerals with all the replies.

    26. Billy Hill

      I have come to the realization that UK football sucks. I’m going to start cheering for Ohio State

  3. CB3UK

    Great write up Freddie. Not much to argue with there. Coach Elliot knows he’s got to squeeze the most out of this defense this season. A lot of high expectations for the offense this season.

  4. ekywildcat

    The walk-on from Johnson Central, Tyler Pack, can really kick the ball. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him in, if he gets a fair shot.

  5. ed.mueller

    Regarding the trolls, why bother?

    That said,
    Very informative piece Freddie. I like that Football has a voice here…great way to engage another audience.

  6. 2Dogs

    I just think it’s sad that 6 wins is the goal.

  7. BluKudzu

    Ignorance is bliss. Barnhart counts on it, to keep giving you, what he has taught you to accept.

    I totally agree with 2Dogs. 6 wins, or middle of the pack is a goal? At this stage, the 4th year? Something to hope for?

    No offense to Mr. Maggard, this article was well written and provides key performance indicators which must be improved in order to move forward.

    Moving forward to what though? That is the question that needs to be asked. Is it going to be a major hurdle, for this coach, to take this team to mediocre, at best? You better believe it. Stoops, and specifically DC DJ Eliot, are not the people to get it done.

    This is a trainwreck run by circus clowns on its way to a dumpster fire.

    If this is “Doing it right” please tell me about Tom Herman at the University of Houston, which went from a zero type program to bowl games, beating nationally rated teams (like the Cardinals on their home field at PJS) in only his second season, and getting a top 10 ranking on his way to a bowl.

    He was available. He was assistant coach of the year. I was hoping he would be considered.

    Don’t tell me it takes 5+ years to build a competitive program, that is just loser bullspeak, from people that lack football IQ. You are just repeating, what you have been told, by Mitch.

    For any and every reason you can offer to justify the job Stoops is doing, I will provide another example, of another coach that is either turning around the program, or has already done so in less than 4 years. Yes, BBN, it can be done.

    Anyone that accepts results, like we had last year, is neither a true fan of, and for, UK football, or knows absolutely nothing about the game.

    At this stage of the program, with a coach given a $12,000,000.00 guaranteed contract, accepting mediocre results, or less, proves you to be the moron Barnhart is counting on you, and the rest of BBN, to be. 12 wins in three years folks. That is pathetic.

    I do have a few requests for the staff and team; shut your mouth, stay off of Finebaum, and prove it on the field. Stop embarrassing yourself, BBN, and quit feeding the trolls.

    Just one more thing; after four years, quit blaming Joker. He had as much to do with the team’s performance, last year, on and off the field, as you, or your Grandmother.

    1. Sentient Third Eye

      Remember that each of the last two seasons, we were literally ONE PLAY away from a bowl game. Two years ago, we were really just one missed call away (@Florida). This team has been better than their record indicates, and while making it translate to wins and losses is not easy, it is easier than collecting talent to begin with. Stoops has made great gains on the hardest part already.

    2. Sentient Third Eye

      And remember that if we had fired Rich Brooks at this point in his career at UK, we would have missed out on five subsequent bowl seasons.

    3. onsides

      There are 128 d-1 football school and there are 82 schools that will go to the 41 bowl games this year. At this stage of the Stoops regime, it’s pathetic that UKs goal is to go 6-6.

    4. jdarren1963

      I don’t think, at least I hope, that going 6-6 isn’t UK’s goal. It may be the goal of a lot of fans just to get to a bowl game but I don’t think that’s UK’s goal. UK’s goal should be 12-0 every year.

    5. BluKudzu

      Just curious, what does BBN consider a great season?
      I will start:
      4 years into the program: 8 wins.
      What say you?

    6. jdarren1963

      I think, at this point, 8 wins would be a great season, also.

  8. kentuckyrld

    Scoring more points is critical but I think if they can stay even with last year in this category it will be a miracle. The real problem is that this team very likely will not be able to stop my grandmother from running the ball. If you can’t stop the run the only game in the SEC that is winnable is Vandy.

    1. BluKudzu

      How did that work last year, you know, against Vandy?

  9. Leroy Bird - 00

    Hey all –

    Looking for an RV pass for Commonwealth for the Vandy game. if anyone wants to part with one, hit me up on the thread.

  10. Elwood BLU

    Great write up Freddie, really looking forward to the season! 6 wins this year with this schedule would be a really good season.

    1. BluKudzu

      Another example of years of lowered expectations for UK football.
      Accept what Barnhart has taught you to expect.
      .500 season, gets you fired in any sport, anywhere. HERE AT UK, it is considered good.

    2. Elwood BLU

      Hate to tell you but I cannot remember listening to much of anything Mitch has to say. I am a fan of the team and the coach. I do not pay any attention to the Administration like some of you guys.

  11. macsauce13

    Some of you people are delusional. How could six wins and a bowl be disappointing? Would that not be forward progress? Would it not be attractive to recruits to see us moving upward? We play in the SEC. We play the best teams in the country year in and year out. Six wins, during a year when we have a really tough schedule, would be HUGE.

    Take this from a fairly young fan who’s stuck with them from the get-go, we DO NOT need or want your negativity. It helps NOTHING. And if you think recruits don’t occasionally check a site like this then you’re naive. Stop talking crap about the program.

    If you don’t believe we’re progressing, then just be quiet. This is not the time to be trying to push Stoops out. Frankly, it just makes you look cranky and ignorant.

    LETS GO CATS

    1. Elwood BLU

      Completely agree! The expectations of some of these “fans” kill me. Go CATS!

    2. BluKudzu

      Macsauce13 and Elwood BLU, your comments only confirm what I have said previously, and you are too naive to know it. You have no idea how bad your comments make you look. I “liked” them both, hoping you will continue.

      Call me names like cranky and ignorant, all you want, blame me for making recruits decommit. It is all good.

      As I have stated, from day one, I do hope I am wrong in my observation in the program. I will be the first to admit I am wrong. I will even apologize to all I have offended.

      If you want better comments about the program and how it has been managed, win games. That is all it takes.

      Go argue with scorpiocard. I am not the enemy. I just ask what others are afraid to.

    3. Billy Hill

      Remember, folks, BlueKudzu was bitching about Stoops in his first year, too. Don’t let him try to fool you into believing he knows what the f**k he’s talking about. He strives to be negative.

    4. Elwood BLU

      First of all,I never called you any names or anyone else on this board, I am not in third grade anymore. You think I am naïve and my comments make me look bad because I see the glass half full not half empty when it comes to UK football, well ok, guilty as charged I am optimist when it comes to life and my teams. I have stuck with my Cubs for 30 years and always gladly looked forward to next year. I go to the games I cheer on these young guys and once I go home my week is not affected by a win or loss and I look for ward to the next one. Of course I want to see the team win but I am willing to give this thing time to develop.

  12. Kat 308

    I agree with Macsauce13 I just want to see progress, and I think I will. I believe stoops has done a great job taking over a high school team in the SEC. We will bowl this year.