Tub o' lard

After the University of Kentucky Wildcats lost an overtime game in the pouring rain to the University of Louisville Cardinals to start off the 2000 season, then-Head Coach Hal Mumme caused a lot of waves by stating that the U of L game was not that important, it was the Southeastern Conference schedule that mattered. Mumme screwed up a lot during his tenure at UK, but he was right on the money with this call. Beating U of L is great; who doesn't love to stick it to those guys, but unless UK wins games in the SEC, it is not going anywhere. That is why this past weekend's loss to South Carolina was painful. This was a game at home, UK was favored, and they had an extra week to prepare. They should have won this game and they did not, instead falling to the Gamecocks 16-12, being shut out on offense in the second half. One of the steps to being a good football team is winning the games you are supposed to win, and for the most part that is what UK did on its way to a 4-1 record. This game should have put them at 5-1 and jumped them into the AP Top 25. Instead, the sold out crowd at Commonwealth Stadium left unfulfilled, with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths and trying to figure out what went wrong.

The play calling and the coaching are two things a lot of fans are pointing to, but the real reason for the offense's struggles may not be either of these. The real reason UK's offense is having trouble producing points could be because UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen is fat. Really fat.

That is not exactly a news flash. If you follow UK sports even casually, then you realize The Hefty Lefty, or The Pillsbury "Throw"-boy, or Fat Bastard, or whatever you want to call him is the biggest quarterback in the history of the world. He is at least 300 pounds and this does not seem to bother anyone. Sure, his stats are nice this season, 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, but it could be the little things that are starting to slip. During the games against the three bigger conference schools, IU, Florida, and USC, he has averaged less than 200 yards passing and a mere 5.4 yards per pass. Kentucky's ineffectiveness late in games against Florida and USC, when they were trying to rally for a score, could be because the quarterback is tired from dragging his 300+ pounds all over the field. When he ran for the first down in the closing seconds of the USC game Saturday night, he was completely out of gas. This could be a factor in why the offense was unable to get into the end zone for the win. The nimbleness that was seen so much last year, such as rushing for 61 against Georgia or 52 against Tennessee, is gone and the fact that he weighs 25-30 pounds more this year than he did last year could be the big reason.

The best period of Lorenzen's career was when he reclaimed the starting job during the 2001 season, after relieving in the LSU game and almost pulling off the upset. For the rest of the year he was whipping passes all over the field, running for first downs, making big plays, and putting points on the board. It was not his fault that the defense time and again betrayed them by giving up too many points, the fact is, that is the best he has played in a UK uniform. Last year was the season that Coach Morris demanded he lose weight and made him compete with Shane Boyd for the starting job. Lorenzen lost the weight, getting down to the 265-270 range, and after initially losing his job to Boyd, came back with a vengeance.

You would think that seeing how well he played and how well he moved without some of that extra weight would have motivated Lorenzen to keep it off during the off season. You would think that the prospect of one day playing in the NFL would inspire him to keep his playing weight at a reasonable level in order to impress scouts. You would think the coaching staff would have demanded he keep the weight off if he wanted to play. You would be wrong. Coach Morris has said many times this season that no matter how hard they tried he just did not lose weight, and Lorenzen has stated that he is just a big guy and no matter what he tried he could not keep weight off. Am I the only one with memories of the 2001 season? I know they went 2-9, but has that caused everyone to block it out completely? The fact is Lorenzen has lost weight before and has been more effective at a lighter weight. If you want to compete at this level of college football and put your team in a position to win game week in and week out, you have to play your best players, and Lorenzen is the most talented quarterback on the roster. But, if he will not cut out the trips to McDonald's during the off season, what kind of dedication does that show the coaches or the team?

UK has an intelligent and a demanding fan base. I would hope that others would see how much brighter UK's and Lorenzen's future could be if he was able to lose weight and really get in shape. The nicknames and songs are funny, but it is almost like we are all enablers for this problem. If a UK basketball player was this fat and out of shape and the coaching staff showed little to no interest in fixing the problem there would be riots in the street. We should demand the same from the football staff and players. Nazr Mohammed was a big fat kid when he arrived in Lexington to play basketball, but he worked hard for Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith, lost the weight, and now makes millions in the NBA. I assume Lorenzen would also like to make millions playing professionally some day. I also assume UK fans want to improve on their 1-18 record in the last 19 games against SEC teams. If any of this is going to happen, then Jared Lorenzen needs to lose weight. He needs to show his teammates and the 70,000 that fill up Commonwealth that he is a quarterback, and not just a joke.