Days removed from Kentucky’s second straight SEC loss, the offense is confident they can put the pieces together to finish possessions with points. The offensive players and coaches addressed a few areas of concern following the Mississippi State loss.
Make Bowden Efficient Again
Lynn Bowden was targeted 16 times on Saturday. It resulted in just seven completions. That’s incredibly inefficient. A few of the passes may have been force-fed, but some of them are on Lynn. A few drops were crucial. All are mind-boggling.
“We’re all shocked when that happens. It goes back down to discipline and focus. That’s all it is. He also made three great plays,” Eddie Gran said. “We’ve gotta put it all together, everybody. That’s it. You’ve got to throw and catch. You gotta block people. We got a couple people open, then it’s an o-lineman, then it’s a running back, then it’s a receiver, then it’s a quarterback. It’s our job as coaches to get that corrected and we have got to be more consistent, especially when we go on the road.”
Like the offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach Michael Smith shoulders some of the blame for playing Lynn too much. Bowden played more than 70 snaps in each of the last two games. Smith will be more cognizant early in the game to ensure Bowden is fresh for the finish.
“A tired Lynn is not better than a fresh Clevan,” said Smith. “At the end of the day we gotta do what we have to do to win football games. I think he understands that and we’re going to do a better job of that.”
Putting the ball on the ground is obviously a problem. Like managing his snaps, Smith tries to balance the criticism with a good short-term memory.
“I don’t want him pressing, but I believe in guys being their own worst critic. If you can take that criticism, understand it and use it as fuel for motivation, so be it,” said Smith. “But I also have to tell him, like anything else, after the play is over, move on to the next one because we need you. We can’t one loss turn into two and we did. We can’t let one drop turn into two drops and we did Saturday.”
Finding the right balance has been a big problem in the play-calling. It’s been a problem in the substitution patterns and in the trash-talking department. Playing with an edge does the team no good if players are committing 15-yard penalties.
A line was drawn in the sand this week. “It’s been addressed by a number of people,” Gran said sternly.
Chris Rodriguez Fights for PT
After Kavosiey Smoke’s fast start, A.J. Rose was the breakout star in the running back room vs. Miss. State. Gran doesn’t believe one player was ever doing anything more spectacular than normal. “Sometimes it’s the deal of the cards.”
One player who needs to see a hand is Chris Rodriguez. The redshirt freshman played vs. Miss. State, but did not receive a carry. He earned a few in practice today.
“Chris Rodriguez today, he had three runs that were phenomenal,” said Gran. “I gotta work him in, it’s just hard. It’s hard to get three guys in there. I want to get him in there because the kid is really talented and he’s done some really good things. He looks fresh. He looks fast.”
No More Tip-Toeing
Even though Gran didn’t see it, Rose blames himself for not living up to his own personal expectations early in the season. He finally got into a groove on Saturday, rushing for 105 yards on only nine carries.
“The offensive line was doing a great job opening up holes, so I had to just see it and hit it,” Rose said. “I said it before, but the first couple games I feel like I was tip-toeing through things. I wasn’t running how I usually run, so I had to get back to my ways. I feel like I’m getting back to my ways. It’s only up from here.”