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The LEACH REPORT: UK vs Florida


–photo courtesy Victoria Graff

As always on Sundays, Tom Leach joins us to give his thoughts on what occurred the day before:

It didn’t take a genius to understand how difficult it was going to be for Kentucky to get wins during this brutal four-game stretch against nationally-ranked oponents. I continue to say that UK’s goal is to emerge from that Alabama game on October 12 with three important factors in place–stay positive, be relatively healthy and develop an offensive identity–and the second half of the schedule offers better opportunities for wins. Number one and two are looking good at the moment but the Wildcats have some work to do on number three.

You can take issue with certain play calls but against a defense like Florida’s, it’s hard to avoid losing the chess match a few times. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown must feel like a pitcher that isn’t sure which pitch he can count on when he needs a big out. The Wildcats need to get good at some things, so they can count on those types of plays at crucial times. Quarterbacks always get too much credit and too much blame but it’s also clear that Kentucky MUST get better at that position. Brown told my radio show audience in an interview this summer that if you have to pick one quality that is the single most important for a quarterback in this offense to possess, it would be accuracy of throws.

In the last two games, against two of the nation’s highest-rated defensive units, UK has reached the opponent’s 30-yard line or better 10 times and only one of those drives was the result of forcing a turnover. From those 10 drives, UK has managed only 20 points. Eliminate the breakdowns at the ends of those kinds of drives and things will look a lot better.

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It wasn’t so much one play as a series. Late in the first quarter, with the game tied 7-7, UK got a defensive stop and after a missed field goal, the Wildcats took over at their 36. In a stat that is equally shared by both sides of the ball, Kentucky has not led for a single second in any of its three losses but this was an opportunity for UK to capitalize on good field position and get in front of the Gators. On first down, Smith completed a pass to Sanders but for a seven-yard loss. An eight-yard run on second down made it third-and-nine and Demarco Robinson got inside position against Florida’s tight coverage, only to have the pass thrown low and behind him for an incompletion.

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1/8 on third downs. And that makes UK 1-for-21 in the last two games. Part of the problem is getting “behind the chains” on first down and in five of those eight third-down situations against Florida, the Cats needed eight or more yards. But on the all-important first drive of the second half, facing a third-and-one at its own 34-yard line, UK went for a misdirection play and Javess Blue was tackled for a loss. By my count, Kentucky is now only 3-for-8 on third-and-one plays this season–and all five failures to convert came in losses. That is a stat that UK can and must improve.

47 plays run by Kentucky. The goal is 75 plays per game but Kentucky can’t get reap the benefits of its uptempo style when it is unable to sustain drives. Field position is so important against a conservative offense like Florida’s so even just a first down or two before a punt has great value.

8 TFL’s (5 sacks) by Florida. In Kentucky’s three losses, the opponents have combined for 24 tackles-for-loss for 109 yards worth of lost field position (90th in the nation). This stat goes hand-in-hand with the lack of third-down success.

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Joe Mansour/Jarod Leet. UK’s placekicker and holder executed a trick play to perfection. Leet carried out his fake of setting the ball before quickly tossing it back and hitting Mansour in stride. And then Mansour showed us his legs aren’t just for kicking as he sprinted to paydirt and put a game-tying charge into the Big Blue Nation.

Blake McClain. An early hand injury prompted a decision to hold him for the rest of the game but McClain lobbied to play through the pain. Once it was determined that he could be wear a cast and not risk any further damage, McClain was clearly to return, depending on how much pain he could tolerate. McClain played throughout the second half and denied a Florida touchdown with perfect coverage on a fade route to Trey Burton.

Alex Montgomery. The freshman wideout had four catches for a team-best 47 yards and he displayed SEC-caliber toughness, too. In the third quarter, a pass thrown behind him set up the Florida safety for a “kill shot” for which he should have been penalized at the least. Montgomery was wobbly when he finally got up off the turf but on the next drive, he made three of his four catches for the night.

–listen to Tom each weekday morning at 9:06am eastern on “The Leach Report” radio network; and follow him on twitter @tomleachky and via “The Leach Report” page on Facebook

–check out for more of Tom’s coverage of the Cats

Article written by Matt Jones

11 Comments for The LEACH REPORT: UK vs Florida

  1. LeitchfieldAlex
    5:34 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Hey Matt, with the QBs not doing anything good right now, I say give Towles a try. With Barker coming in he’s not going to get much playing time next yr. if Barker is as good as everyone thinks. We have to try something defferent. We’ve been through this the last 3 yrs.and longer. The Defence is doing alright so far. I don’t see the air raid do you? Talk to you tomorrow on radio about this. Go Kats!!!!

  2. I'm So Glaring That My Shades...
    5:36 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    In the last two games, against two of the nation’s highest-rated defensive units, UK has reached the opponent’s 30-yard line or better 10 times and only one of those drives was the result of forcing a turnover. From those 10 drives, UK has managed only 20 points. Eliminate the breakdowns at the ends of those kinds of drives and things will look a lot better.

  3. Captain Obvious
    6:23 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Tom Leach is obese.

  4. boonesbutchershop
    6:36 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Leach is fat but a good radio man. Still hoping to see improvement, haven’t yet except maybe defense. I don’t think Towles is the answer but something needs to be done on offense. I’m still hoping for this coaching staff. Not going to jump ship like some already have. Come on BBN give this football team the love. I’m sure they are trying hard.Also sure Stoops is learning too. Keep th faith BBN. Go Big Blue.

  5. Jon gruden
    6:45 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    The cats need to keep smith in as qb. The offense can’t get any rhythm switching qbs all the time. Don’t blame the qbs blame brown n stoops. The cats r getting better n time will tell… But let’s try to win now!

  6. UK Freshmen
    7:23 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Fat? Have you seen our coach?

  7. jaws2
    8:31 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Penalty? Jeez, this is still football Matt. With another 10 years of whining, they’ll be playing flag football !!

  8. ChemCatUK
    8:43 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Matt, I was shocked when I moved up and saw your name on the byline. I figured it was some 19 yr old intern.
    You’re better than this.

  9. Cool Daddy
    10:15 pm September 29, 2013 Permalink

    Good write up Matt. On another note chill this Wilder Tredway guy out. Is he going for some record of posts or is he on coke?

  10. goUKats
    12:00 am September 30, 2013 Permalink

    The offensive line play has been offensive.Miller blew at least three blocks resulting in Smith getting hammered by Floridas’ defensive end.

  11. Common Sense
    12:56 pm September 30, 2013 Permalink

    I actually don’t think that the Florida safety should of been penalized on the play. If Max had thrown a catchable ball that was in stride, the safety would of hit him in the back. The play was too fast for the safety to correct his approach. I don’t believe it was targeting, I think it was the safety making a play.