Just Big Boned?
BY KEVIN FARIS
The problem with the University of Kentucky football team is very simple, NCAA rules require that both teams play 4 quarters. If we can just somehow find a loophole to this rule, then perhaps UK can win the SEC East. Of course, that's unlikely , and UK cannot "technically" win the SEC East, because they "technically" sent a bunch of money down Memphis way, but that's not really the issue. The issue is that for the second time in three games, the UK offense has with Jared Lorenzen at quarterback, scored as many points in the second half as the UK offense with me at quarterback. And that number is zero.
First things first. The Georgia Bulldogs, winners over the Cats 52-24 this past Saturday, are very good. Undefeated and ranked #5. There's no shame in losing to them; in fact considering UK is 0-40 playing Top 10 teams, it is not even that big of a surprise. What is surprising is that an offense that was clicking on all cylinders in the first half, scoring 24 points on 174 yards passing and over 100 yards rushing, put up a big fat goose egg in the second half. J-Lo was 5-10 for 34 yards and Artose Pinner had 9 yards on 5 carries. The same culprits as the South Carolina second half shut out can possibly be named responsible. Not enough Artose, bad play calling, poor line play, and bad throws from the quarterback. However, a lot of credit has to go to the UGA defense and, of course, the fine folks at your local McDonalds. Because while the Bulldogs defense was responsible for getting into UK's backfield, McDonald's was the reason Lorenzen was not able to run away.
In college football, a quarterback's rushing yards are kind of skewed. For some reason, they count a sack as negative rushing yards. Taking that into consideration, Lorenzen's rushing yards for the first eight games have been: -12, 0, -12, 24, -5, -9, 0, and -13. Only one time has he been able to have rushing yards in the positive, and that was against IU. His total for the season is -27 yards. Compare this to last year, when an at least 30-pound lighter Lorenzen ran for, 28, 61, -23, 54, and -43 in the final five games of the season. Three out of the five times, he was in the positive, including the 61 yards he ran for against UGA last year. Lorenzen can protest all he wants that the 30 pounds of extra weight he's carrying is not affecting his play, but the numbers don't back that up. Is he in shape, as he continues to state? Possible, but unlikely. Can he play four quarters and seven overtimes, like he said after Saturday's game? Probably, but probably not well.
When he was not going down like a sack of potatoes, really fat potatoes, against the Bulldog rush, he was doing his best Saul Smith impression and bounce-passing footballs all over the field. A quarterback who is mobile enough to run away can counteract a good pass rush. Remember the UK-UL game that started the season? The only thing that kept UL in the game was Dave Ragone's ability to take off and pick up yardage and first downs after UK's defense burst through the line. Lorenzen is not giving his team the same opportunities. Taking all of this into consideration, it's time Head Coach Guy Morris gave back up quarterback Shane Boyd a shot.
Admittedly, UK is 5-3, a huge step forward from back to back 2-9 seasons. Yes, Lorenzen has a 19/3 touchdown to interception ratio and is completing over 50 percent of his passes. The point is, UK is not playing for a bowl and they are not playing for a chance to win their division, or conference. Maybe Shane Boyd does not need to start, but it's well worth it to put him in the game, in meaningful situations, and see what he can do. Boyd is obviously more mobile than Lorenzen-who isn't-and this aspect can bring something different to the Wildcat offense. Boyd has never finished any game he appeared in with negative rushing yards. He has a strong arm and experience, after starting five games last year. If nothing else, he can give Lorenzen a breather that might make him more effective in the second half.
A lot of people believe that you cannot play two quarterbacks. Although almost every other position is rotated in and out, including Team MVP Artose Pinner, for some reason they want to handle the quarterback with kid gloves. Well, all of the UK fans who watched the entire game Saturday, realized that UGA's 2-quarterback system of David Greene and D.J. Shockley seemed to work pretty well. Greene was 16-32 for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Shockley had 102 yards passing with 2 touchdowns and 38 yards rushing. Why UK cannot follow their lead is beyond reason.
Boyd deserves a shot. What can it hurt? Outside of renting the Rally Monkey from the World Series Champion Anaheim Angels, it's the best way to help UK's offense in the second half. It throws a different look at the defense, it rests Lorenzen, and it lets UK get another talented player on the field. If any other player on the team was 30 pounds overweight and putting up second half performances like Lorenzen has, this would have happened long ago.
Finally, hopefully everyone got an opportunity to watch the World Series this weekend. An exciting, offensive-filled series ended Sunday night as the Angels outlasted the San Francisco Giants to win Game 7. Although it was full of great moments, the final shot of Giants Manager Dusty Baker's 3-year-old son Darren bawling his eyes out after the game is the one that will stick. Everyone likes to say baseball is about men playing a child's game and that was no more clearer than in that moment. Crying on his dad's shoulder, that 3-year-old boy was channeling the emotions of an entire team.