Bill Curry showed Kentucky football fans in the early 1990s, that trying to run the ball in Lexington is not an option (punny right?). Since then success has came from the pass, with the best years featuring a running back that can pick up enough yards to keep the defense honest. Most of these running backs are of the small/speedy variety (excluding Artose Pinner). Speed, Speed, Speed is all you hear in the SEC, but most of this speed has not been properly utilized. Attempting to run inside the tackles frequently fails, leaving playmakers without the opportunity to do great things in the open field. Joker loved to use the bubble screen to give players the ball in the open field, but we all know how well that worked.
The obvious next solution would be to go to the running backs, something the old staff never did. Last season Raymond Sanders only caught 18 passes at the RB position for 111 yards; Texas Tech had 3 RBs catch over 16 passes for 330 yards, tripling the Cats’ production. RB Coach Chad Scott is already in the process of getting his players ready for the Air Raid system that will force them to use their hands not just to carry the ball, but catch out of the backfield as well.
“The way the old guys improve is by doing the things that we’ve been doing since workouts started. Catching tennis balls and footballs, EVERY SINGLE DAY before or after workouts. They have to continue to do that because no matter what kind of offense you have, even on Sundays, you have got to be able to catch it out of the backfield.
The guys we recruited moving forward, that’s what you try to evaluate. Does he has to have the ability to do what you want him to in the offense? Can he catch the football out of the backfield? Is he tough enough to pick up the blitz out of the backfield?”
If Coach Scott cannot get Joker’s players to step up and perform, the acquisition of JoJo Kemp should help. Kemp was praised highly by Coach Scott on Signing Day, marking him as a player that could possibly see the open field of the SEC this fall.
“He’s good between the tackles. He catches the ball well. Believe me, he’s one of the few RBs in the country that has film sticking his nose in there on the blitz. He can also make you miss and hit the homerun. If the kid can stay healthy and come in and learn the system then he can play for us.”