We’re just two games into the season and Kentucky currently is second in the SEC and 11th in the FBS in rushing yards per game. The Cats are currently putting up 301 yards per outing after eight quarters as they are averaging 7.2 yards per carry. That ranks ninth in the FBS.
The ground game has been lethal to this point of the season and it was a significant reason why the Cats knocked off Florida. Benny Snell, rightfully, gets the lion’s share of the credit as he’s running behind an experience, talented, and physical offensive line. There’s a lot of good things going for this rushing attack but the x-factor happens to be at quarterback.
With Wilson taking snaps, the dual-threat from Oklahoma City provides a different element to the offense. He’s, perhaps, the most dynamic athlete to ever play the position in program history and the scheme of Eddie Gran’s offense is setup to take advantage of this athleticism.
In the victory over Florida, Wilson used his elusiveness on scrambles but was also used quite a bit on designed runs. UK used him on a play where he follows a pulling guard into the hole and that was the play he lost a fumble on. There is obviously the zone read element where he has the option to pull the ball and keep it on numerous plays.
But the most effective designed run from Wilson happened in the third quarter when he scored his first career rushing touchdown. The play ended a 90-yard drive where the Cats scored six coming out of the locker room as Wilson bounced back after a brutal interception to end the half. This was a packaged play where UK flashed all three options in the last five quarters. They setup the defense and then struck when in scoring range.
Let’s go inside the play.
Before we get started on the play that went for six against Florida, we have to look back to the Central Michigan win.
In this play, Kentucky has a first and ten near midfield and are in 10 personnel (one running back, zero tight ends four wide receivers). CMU comes out in a 4-2-5 look and since the defensive end is lined up head up with the right tackle, Wilson’s read becomes the Will linebacker who is lineup inside the slot.
Wilson makes the read as the linebacker is frozen by the toss action and allows Clevan Thomas to to gain inside leverage. Therefore, Thomas becomes wide open as he hits in the middle of the field and he sits to show the quarterback his numbers. It’s an easy first down for the offense. Just by this look there is the toss and the pass element.
Now we head to week two and look at the second play of the first drive of the second half as UK faced a 2nd and 6 inside their own 15. With a manageable down and distance, UK went to a similar read look for Terry Wilson.
In this play, UK is running two plays in one as the wide receivers and the right side of the offensive line are blocking like this is a sweep to the right side. Left guard Logan Stenberg wraps around like you will see on a typical power play. For the quarterback, Terry Wilson is reading the end man on the line of scrimmage (#99). If he crashes down it’s a toss and if he doesn’t Wilson will keep it. For the pre-snap, if UK has a number advantage outside to the left, the option will be there for Wilson to throw it to Bowden.
Here Wilson makes the right read but it’s just a half second late and the Florida edge defender does a great job recovering. It was a bad toss by the quarterback and UK was fortunate that it went forward for an incomplete pass.
Through film study and in-game action, Florida has now seen two different options when faced with 10 personnel with a running back aligned to the side of Terry Wilson in the shotgun.
Now we find Kentucky inside the Florida 25 as they are just a few feet from reaching the red zone. This time UK comes out with 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) in a bunch formation. UK has all 11 players inside the hash marks but that is by design.
The biggest is difference here is that UK runs the sweep to the wide side of the field. That creates room for the cutback.
The eyes of the linebackers failed the Gators as each of them bit on the toss action. Bunchy Stallings wraps around to just get enough of the Will linebacker while the Mike linebacker (#44 runs himself out of the play. The defensive end is all over A.J. Rose for the expected toss.
Drake Jackson and Logan Stenberg both do a terrific job defeating their men in isolation situations. This allows left tackle E.J. Price to get the key block to spring the run. Price climbs to the second level to eliminate the backside safety who had creeped into the box.
That blocks creates an ally for Wilson after he makes the correct cutback. Then it’s a one-on-one with the backside corner and Wilson beats him to the edge for six.
In the RPO game, each of the actions serve a purpose and it is vital for your offense to be able to hit on each part of the triple threat.
In this package, we’ve seen UK use multiple formations as they utilized the toss, the quick pass, and the finally hit big on the quarterback run. Without the first two, Wilson does not run into the endzone to give UK a two-possession lead over Florida in the second half. Get ready to see different types of packaged plays like this one as UK tries to take advantage of their new QB’s speed, athleticism, and arm talent.