Football is so often just a situational game. Getting your team in the right down and distance, field position, calling the right play at the right time. Certainly general talent works too but how a team like Navy ever beats Notre Dame tells you more than talent is involved. Navy wants to get you in certain situations and then execute. Kentucky is in a similar mold in the SEC. The talent has certainly increased but it will never be as deep as the elite powers in this league. So UK has to execute in the situations they want to be in.
Below are UK’s offensive numbers last year in each down and distance situation. Take a look at these numbers and then comment on where you wanted to see the offense improve in situations this year:
Pass: 55-99, 839 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT, 7 sacks for -50 yards (1 fumble lost)
Run: 255 rushes for 1,649 yards (6.5 ypc), 12 TD
It will be interesting to see if UK still runs the ball at a 2:1 ratio or close to it or if they move more towards a 50-50 split. Obviously it seems UK formed an identity in the 2nd half of the year running the ball. And you know what Benny Snell gets you and don’t yet know if Stephen Johnson can throw it consistently. So it would seem the safe play is to keep running it. But good defense have to be kept on their heels.
2nd Down and Long (6 yards or more)
Pass: 37-61, 476 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT, 8 sacks for -51 yards (1 fumble lost)
Run: 119 rushes for 726 yards (6.1 ypc), 1 TD
UK did a nice job most of the season getting themselves out of 2nd and long situations, often times with the running attack. Rich Brooks always said getting manageable 2nd and 3rd down situations was a HUGE key to a successful offense. It seemed UK did a nice job last year with that strategy.
2nd Down and Short (5 yards or less)
Pass: 9-15, 172 yards, 1 TD, 1 sack for -5 yards (1 fumble lost)
Run: 48 rushes for 246 yards (5.0 ypc), 4 TD
Here’s the way to look at this stat above. When UK completed the pass or ran the ball on 2nd and short (a total of 57 times), they averaged 7.3 yards per play. That’s a very good percentage. Only 6 incomplete passes all year on 2nd and long. They will need to continue to be this efficient on “easier” situations like 2nd and short.
3rd Down and Long (6 yards or more)
Pass: 29-67, 502 yards, 5 TD, 5 INT, 8 sacks for -65 yards (converted 20 of 75)
Run: 21 rushes for 172 yards (8.2 ypc), 2 TD (converted 5 of 17)
3rd down and long is a bad situation all around, even for great teams. But UK was just 25 for 92 last year. That’s really bad. They completed just 43% of their passes in this situation. They were sacked 8 times as well. If there is a glaring area in need of improvement, it is here.
3rd Down and Short (5 yards or less)
Pass: 14-27, 182 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks for -4 yards (converted 13 of 28)
Run: 39 rushes for 244 yards (6.3 ypc) (converted 27 of 39)
When you have a great rushing attack, these conversions should be pretty simple. UK did a nice job last year converting these “must convert” downs. 40 of 67 for the season is pretty good.