On his weekly radio show, Mark Stoops pretty much confirmed what most had believed exiting the ugly performance in Columbia, South Carolina. Lynn Bowden, Jr. will be working at quarterback this week and there is a good chance that the Youngstown native will start behind center when Arkansas rolls into town a week from Saturday.
With Bowden playing legit quarterback and not the gimmick wildcat stuff, it gives the offense a chance to be much more wide open. Yes, UK is going to see some crowded boxes, but there are ways to scheme around that. Expect to see more four wide receiver sets with plenty of jet and orbit motions. Eddie Gran will do his best to spread out the defense to create lanes for the ground game. It’ll help everyone out tremendously to have the QB run game back as a major force and one thing that will really help is the playmaking ability of Bowden.
In UK’s only touchdown drive against South Carolina, we saw some of that creativity from the slot receiver. The former blue-chip recruit passed on a wide open checkdown to his running back, but he was able to break contain and create a big play in the red zone. Part of the draw to having Bowden back there is the playmaking element. If he can consistently provide moments where he makes something out of nothing, he could become a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.
After a three-yard scramble on first down, Kentucky comes out in 10 personnel (one running back, four wide receivers) on this second-and-long just outside of the the red zone. Despite this pass heavy look, South Carolina remains in base defense and this should be an advantage for Kentucky. On the snap, the Gamecocks drop into Cover 3.
Field corner Jaycee Horn (No. 1) sprints backwards on the snap to cover the left third of the field while the free safety and boundary corner have the rest of the deep zones. The Gamecocks have three defenders underneath with five rushing the passer. Inside linebacker Rosendo Louis (No. 42) comes on a blitz that doesn’t look designed and that leaves Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. wide open. However, Bowden’s eyes are locked on Josh Ali who is running a dig route out of the slot on the top of the screen. He is well covered so the dual-threat quarterback decides to ad lib.
Once Bowden moves away from Ali, his eyes immediately go left. However, South Carolina loses contain thanks to some undisciplined pass rush. Strong safety R.J. Roderick (No. 10) loses Allen Dailey, Jr. in the field on the move inside and leaves a wide open running lane. Lynn Bowden, Jr. spots this and immediately takes off.
Bowden easily scampers for nearly 20 yards before a defender even comes close to tackling him. Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. does a great job cutting off the pursuit of the trailing defender while Akeem Hayes and Allen Dailey, Jr. get great blocks on the field corner and free safety respectively. This allows the quarterback to get inside the five and give UK a rare chunk play in scoring territory.
This type of play is exactly what Lynn Bowden, Jr. will bring to the table. Yes, he is going to miss reads that college quarterbacks should make. However, he has the ability to create a big play on every snap. Usually quarterback scrambles like this will have to happen when the defense is in man coverage, but because of one mistake by a South Carolina defender, it leaves open a wide open lane for Bowden to make a big play.
For every team remaining on UK’s schedule, Lynn Bowden will be the most athletic quarterback they see all season. He’s going to struggle reading zone coverage and he’s going to take negative plays, but just one mistake could turn into a game-changing play. There’s going to be some good and bad, but the playmaking ability is always going to be there.