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Do Joker and Co. have play-calling tendencies?

I know one of the huge gripes with the Joker Phillips era so far has been what seems to be a more conservative, play to not lose, style of play-calling.  Whether that means more runs or less deep passes, fans have generally been disappointed in the gameplans.  But what did the WKU game show us?  Did Joker Phillips and the offensive staff have enough variety in their playcalling, and were they more successful in certain situations than others.  Below are plays broken down in down and distance (short or long) and then my interpretation of what it means. 

1st down (20 plays)
13 rushes: 24 yards 
7 passes: 2-6, 14 yards, 1 INT, 1 sack (-11 yards)

What this means: Well, it tells us a couple things.  First of all, the rushing attack was pitiful on first down.  It put UK in difficult 2nd down spots because they were getting less than 2 yards per carry.  Rich Brooks used to always say he wanted to avoid 2nd and 3rd downs and long.  UK did not accomplish that Thursday, and that was largely due to a poor rushing attack.  To be honest, I was surprised to find their were 7 first down passes thrown.  But, only 2 of those happened in the 2nd half, which is odd because the rushing was so bad.  You would think they would have tried MORE passes on 1st down to mix it up, but I guess there wasn’t much confidence in either unit.  For the time being though, I like a 65-35 ratio in run to pass on 1st down. 
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2nd down and 7 or less (3 plays)
3 rushes: 2 yards
0 passes

2nd down and 8 or more (14 plays)
7 rushes: 7 yards
7 passes: 5-6, 83 yards, 1 TD, 1 sack (-11 yards)

What this means: It tells us that 1st down play were horrible.  To have only THREE plays in the entire game of 2nd and 7 or less.  But, the one positive in all this was on 2nd and long, the passing game was very effective.  Newton hit his 2 longest passes on 2nd and long, and had his highest completion percentage was in these situations.  It was also the best run-pass distribution of any play situation.  This is where Joker and Co. had their bread buttered. 
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3rd down and 7 or less (8 plays)
3 rushes: 15 yards, 1 TD
5 passes: 0-4, 2 INT, 1 sack (-5 yards)

3rd down and 8 or more (5 plays)
4 rushes: 71 yards
1 pass: 0-1

What this means:  Taking away Newton’s 58 yard scramble, a total of 12 plays were run on 3rd down for a total of 28 yards, including Clemons’ rushing TD.  That just won’t cut it.  Of the 13 plays run on 3rd down, only 3 were converted for 1st down or touchdowns.  But of all the playcalling tendencies we see above, the one that bothers me the most are the 3rd and long numbers.  

Five times Kentucky faced 3rd and long on Thursday.  4 times they rushed the ball.  THAT IS CALLED GIVING UP.  That is disappointing.  I understand game situations dictate certain things, but to esentially concede to punting the ball 4 out of 5 times on 3rd and long is a poor attitude, in my opinion.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

30 Comments for Do Joker and Co. have play-calling tendencies?



  1. UKGoBigBlue
    5:23 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Can we please hit the fast forward button on the football season ! Why is everyone surprised that 1. we aren’t any good & 2. the fact that Joker offense is boring? This is the exact same boring & stiff offense that Joker called when he was the offensive coordinator. The offense is as stiff & as boring as Joker personality. If I remember right, this is the exact same reason why so many people didn’t want Joker as the future head coach when he was named coach in waiting. This was predictable & preventable.

    This is the reason why so many people loved Mumme offense; even though he took some stupid risk, you never knew what was coming.

    It’s not hard to setup a defense against UK when you already know the largest % of plays called will be running plays or even worse, running plays right up the middle.

    Could Joker just be head coach in name only, and let someone else run the team?



  2. lexslamman
    5:31 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Headline fail.



  3. stephen
    5:35 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    It doesn’t mean anything when your passing is so bad, they were making play calling decisions based on whether we could even catch the ball.



  4. Dr. Dick Fitzenbutts
    5:35 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    2- Exactly, ha.



  5. Trevathan
    5:49 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Anyone who has read my comments before know I’m a homer to the ultimate degree. That being said, this is great work by BTI to outline this and to bring to the table what I feel to be the single biggest issue with our team — the lack of creativity and courage on offensive play-calling. There couldn’t have been a single worse thing that could’ve happened besides those WRs dropping those passes because that will suck the confidence right out of Joker and his staff to throw the ball downfield. 4 out of 5 plays are runs on 3rd and 7+? Wow.

    What I will defend is the idea Hal Mumme’s name should even be brought up as if he was the second coming of Paul Bryant. Mumme’s offense made our defense that much worse and get got us put on probation. Really?!! That’s the guy you want to bring up? Sure it was the most exciting brand of football I’d ever seen at the time, but I also wasn’t old enough to drive a car at that time. We’re a better program now, without a doubt and we don’t want to see him walking back through that door.



  6. Yroc53
    5:52 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Yes he has play calling tendencies. He tends to call terrible plays all game long. Especially on third and long. Whats with the screen for 3 yards when we need 10?



  7. ukfastkat
    5:59 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Can you say “bubble screen”?
    Let Tee Martin call the plays.
    Come to think of it, put him in Newton’s uni and get him on the field!



  8. BD
    6:08 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    The anti-Joker agenda being pushed by KSR is getting old. So is the attitude of most of the “basketball is the only thing that matters” segment of our fan base. A lot of you love basketball…..we get it, but your negativity is showing up in national stories and providing ammunition against a fan base that is already wrongly accused of not caring about football. I believe in what Joker is building here…..if you don’t, fine. But stop hindering the building process. No one wants to win more than Joker….he’s a alumni, which is more than most of you can say. And me????? UK class of 98.



  9. Mr Schwump
    6:10 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    People, Sanders calls the plays. Idiots.



  10. mike
    6:11 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Can you say play action??…can you say pump fake???. We have to be a pushover for a DC to gameplan against us with our vanilla and predictable attack. As many people have said….Joker’s personality is about as uninspiring as our offensive strategy.



  11. BravoBigBlue
    6:15 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Make QB change now and watch offense improve.



  12. Joker is Bill Curry
    6:18 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Joker sucks

    Morgan Newton sucks

    Our O-line sucks

    Our Receivers suck

    UK football sucks PERIOD.

    Bring on Basketball.



  13. KJ Choi
    6:21 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Amen Brother BTI…Amen!



  14. kaboom!
    6:22 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    8 – grow up. this isn’t “anti-joker agenda” stuff. it’s what every UK fan with ANY common sense is thinking. we have seen a pattern in the offensive play-calling over past couple of years. it’s why we’re having trouble competing against bad teams ie UGA, UT, UM last year & WKU this year.
    9 – sanders is OC. but that doesn’t mean he does whatever he wants. the 1st 7-10 plays are scripted & they all go over a lot of stuff together during the half.



  15. Sammydog
    6:23 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Actually, Joker was calling the plays during the peak of the Brooks tenure when Woodson was quarterback. We were a very exciting, productive offense at that time. That was when other schools (and the pros)were enquiring about hiring Joker and UK felt we should keep him by making him coach in waiting. How soon we forget



  16. UK Homer 2.0
    6:24 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    I feel queazy jumping on this boat, but apparently I’m not the only one wondering WTF? Trust me, I want to like Joker. But I, like others, just aren’t seeing the passion. I look around the country and see coaches coaching with fire in unexpected places (read: Bronco Mendenhall, Chris Petersen, Randy Edsall.) What’s it going to take to put Kentucky football on the map and get somebody in here that makes a difference?



  17. WildcatsDominate
    6:25 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    8) Come off it. If you watched the game on Thursday or know anything about football you would do exactly what everyone else is doing, which is wondering why some of the plays were called when they were called. And unfortunately this has been happening for some time now (Joker as the consistent factor). The fact is, watch ANY OTHER TEAM out there and they have coaches who call plays which allow for the players to be successful. We get upset when Raymond Sanders only gains 2 yards on 3rd and 8 but he’s not the one calling the running plays up the middle when our line hasn’t been doing anything productive all game. There’s no adjustment made to how our guys playing. I mean, how frustrating was it to see that SAME RUNNING PLAY (Sanders up the middle) called at least 20 times with no success (2 yds a carry is not a success) at all.

    I’m a true blue fan but any smart football fan should be raising these questions. The idiots are people like you who don’t know the game and get all upset when these questions are asked.



  18. Thor God Of Thunder
    6:31 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Playing afraid to make mistakes on offense rubs off on the guys and they play scared, it looked like our guys have so much fun together in the weight room and at practice together on the ALL-ACCESS ESPN did and none of that carried over to the field, zero. Also Morgan Newton doesn’t have Kennan Burton, Stevie Johnson, Jacob Tamme, Raffy Little, Derrick Locke, Chris Matthews, or Randall Cobb, hell there’s not even a Glenn Holt or Tommy Cook on this team. LaRod King has potential to be very good but the fact is right now he’s not playing like it. We have had a very nice run of skill position players come through UK in the last 6-7 years and we just don’t have it at the moment. I like the depth we are building at running back but at reciever and tight end it’s just not there right now. Hell, we can’t catch a cold right now.



  19. SEC Defensive Coordinators
    6:35 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Thanks, BTI. We would have never figured out UK’s offensive playcalling without you. Damn, they are pretty lame, aren’t they?



  20. ebell55
    6:35 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Joker and staff made Hartline the number 2 passer in the SEC last year. We have been in the upper half of offense production 4 of the last 5 years. We didn’t throw one screen pass against WKU which I think we should have. It should be no surprise the offense is struggling with the personel we lost. We may struggle this year but Joker given time will increase the talent level and the win total. We have never been a very successful program it can’t be done over night! This is not basketball our football players give us 4 years of hard work at least support them we are undefeated until we lose be some what positive!!!



  21. Joker's Problem
    6:37 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Is that he is playing the game not to lose it seems like. Needs to play to win. Big difference. The 3rd down and long stat is a great example. The draw play only is going to work if the defense is respecting the pass in the first place. And as far as the QB situation, Joker is the only one to blame…he ran off Mossakowski who could’ve at least provided a viable alternative. Idiot.



  22. Hey
    6:42 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    #8: Joker may be an alumnus but he’s not “a alumni”, in much the same way that he’s not a they. And I didn’t know attending UK was a prereq. to being a fan. I’m glad you graduated in ’98. I bet you had some good times. Why don’t you tell some of the current students who attend UK to come to the games and show support before you get angry at fans for being angry w/ a subpar performance. No one will be complaining when the team plays better; and just about everyone on this site wants to see that.



  23. chris
    7:23 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    BTI-
    Not passing on 3rd and long means newton had fewer opportunities to throw interceptions. He was already looking uncomfortable. Why give him a chance to throw more int’s? We won the game- ever think that’s what joker was trying to accomplish? He realized getting the win is most important, not taking chances on third and long with a shaky QB and trying to blow them out. If we lose by 3 td’s to Florida and he has the same playcalling characteristics, then you have a point, but not now.



  24. bung
    7:53 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    joker to off coord to qb = delay of game



  25. bung
    8:07 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    calling coach Couch…



  26. chris dido
    8:10 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    BTI-
    Of course the playcalling is going to be vanilla in the opening game. Less footage for future opposing teams to scout. Even HS teams don’t open the playbook up against non-district opponents.



  27. catsfan
    8:38 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    WKU Coaching Staff Salary = $ 560,613 Game Outcome: W 14-3 Spread: around 19 for UK
    CMU Coaching Staff Salary = 1,018,235 Game Outcome: ? Spread: UK favored by 12
    Joker Philips’ Salary = 1,700,000

    I love UK football and am a Joker fan…but they really need to step it up. Especially for amount of money we are paying him. Right now he shoud be earning about half of what he is making and that would be decent Sun Belt money.



  28. gcat4496
    9:17 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    Lay off Joker. If this were Rich Brooks after a 1-0 start you would be naming a field after him, but when it is Joker, everyone is ready to fire him. Are you guys seriously expecting 12-0 at UK when we have had about 5 seasons in the past 100 years with 7 wins or more. Joker is class act, support him and stop whining. Who finally beat Steve Spurrier? Who came within inches of beating defending Natl. Title contender Auburn last year. That’s right Joker baby. And it will be Joker that takes this program to the next level in the SEC.



  29. 2020
    11:48 pm September 6, 2011 Permalink

    “THAT IS CALLED GIVING UP.” Players had no fire. Neither did coaches. Looked like an exhibition game. Too bad we were promised a regular season game.



  30. BCO
    9:04 am September 7, 2011 Permalink

    I think we should just cheat our ass off in football and hope we dont get caught, personally. Not really worked out for us in the past, but hey, gotta do what ya gotta do.