Kentucky’s run game never got going against Southern Miss.
After averaging 234 yards on the ground in 2016, the Cats opened the season in Hattiesburg with just 78 rushing yards. The blame does not fall on one player’s shoulders. It was a combination of errors between the running backs and offensive line, most of which can easily be resolved.
“Some things are easy fixes and some things are not so easy fixes. There are some things in there that are easy to fix.”
Mark Stoops said some of the fixes are easier than you may think.
“It’s not natural to the naked eye just to look at and see what’s going on because you see some things disrupted on our offensive line, but it could be as simple as a guy going the wrong way. It’s pretty important for everybody to go the right way. So when one person goes the wrong way, it can make a play look very ugly, very quickly. That should be an easy fix.”
Even when every lineman was going the right way, sometimes the running backs did not hit the hole because they weren’t patient enough for them to open.
“Our backs were too impatient. I tried to head that off all last week, for two weeks, about being patient and doing your job and letting things come to us. Some guys get so amped up, they want to make things happen immediately and that’s where the patience of the run game and the running backs will definitely get better.”
Much of those mistakes can easily be corrected in the film room. Others however, can only be solved with additional practice reps.
“There’s other issues. We’re not as deep as we have been on the offensive line. Certainly we did miss Jon Toth and how steady he was with just our operation wasn’t real clean early in the game.”
Stoops added: “We got thin there for a minute when Bunchy went down, we weren’t as deep as we’ve been. Some of that shuffling didn’t help us in that game. We have to learn to be able to do that because we have to be versatile. We have to do that because we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. We always go in with a gameplan and things happen. We have to be able to adapt.”
The bad snap on the second play of the game certainly did not help Kentucky’s cause. That was just one example of how the Cats got caught behind the chains. Luckily, they adapted enough to overcome early setbacks. Now they have an opportunity to learn after a win, the best time to teach.
“It’s really good to go back to work and learn from this and get better and improve between week one and week two. It’s really nice doing it after a victory.”