Rundown of what Kentucky did on 3rd down Saturday:
3rd and 4: Cobb rushed up the middle for 2 yards
3rd and 5: Hartline complete to King for 20 yards, underneath crossing pattern
3rd and 3: Locke rushed up the middle for 0 yards
3rd and 8: Hartline complete to Cobb for 4 yards across middle
3rd and 7: Hartline incomplete to King on underneath crossing pattern
3rd and 2: Locke rushed over right tackle for 3 yards
3rd and 8: Hartline incomplete to Cobb on underneath crossing pattern
3rd and 10: Locke rushed fover left guard for 1 yard (END OF HALF)
3rd and 3: Hartline complete to Cobb down middle for 13 yards
3rd and 10: Hartline incomplete attempting short middle pass
3rd and 11: Hartline incomplete to Aumiller on short pass
3rd and 6: Hartline complete to Roark on crossing pattern for 6 yards
3rd and 10: Hartline complete to Roark in middle for 12 yards
3rd and 10: Hartline complete to King on crossing pattern for 4 yards
Now, those plays highlighted in red are times when Kentucky passed on 3rd down and failed to throw the ball past the first down marker. Seven out of nine plays when Kentucky threw on 3rd down did they fail to throw the ball enough yardage to get the first down.
I understand that in 3rd and long situations (7 yards or more), you can’t ALWAYS throw the ball more than the yardage needed. Sometimes you hope your guys can make a play and get the yardage after the catch. But I would argue that AT LEAST half the time, you should attempt a pass past the first down marker. Even if you are forcing a ball more than normal or throwing it up to a Chris Matthews, the odds of actually getting a first down have to increase over throwing it to a guy underneath and hoping he can gain the needed yardage. Out of those 7 times Kentucky tried short passes, only twice did the receiver actually get the first down.
My only other problem is that Kentucky seemed to be running nearly the same play on each third down. Slot receiver comes underneath, hoping to get paired up with a linebacker, and then catch and run for the first down. Unfortunatly against Florida, their players were fast enough and good enough tacklers that that strategy wouldn’t work. It works against Akron, but Florida is just too quick.
Like I said yesterday, I was actually OK with the offense on Saturday. They attempted to get the ball in it’s playmakers hands (besides a lack of WildCobb), and generally had some success in the passing game. But the lack of creativity and variety on 3rd down was worrisome. Clearly Florida had Kentucky figured out and did not respect the deeper passes (10 yards and more). But I don’t think its that Kentucky doesn’t trust Mike Hartline to throw it deep, I think they simply ARE NOT RISK TAKERS. Which was a nice strategy to get to 6 and 7 win seasons. If you want to get to 8 wins and beyond, a risk will have to be taken occasionally. And maybe we can start on 3rd down.