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BOYD STRUGGLES, GETS LITTLE SUPPORT IN OPENER

Date published: Monday, September 06, 2004

LOUISVILLE -- Trailing Louisville just 7-0 early in the third quarter, the Kentucky offense had finally crossed midfield.

Quarterback Shane Boyd play-faked and bootlegged to the right looking for room to throw, yet found U of L defensive end Marcus Jones breathing down his neck.

"As soon as I turned around, (Jones) was right there," Boyd said.

It seemed like whenever Boyd turned around, a Cardinal defender was right there, so the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, who has waited patiently for his opportunity to run the show, tried to heave the ball downfield.

But he was popped by Jones as he made his follow-through, and the ball fluttered in the air to Cardinal safety Kerry Rhodes, who took it 56 yards for a score and a 14-0 lead one minute and 15 seconds into the third period.

Listening to UK Coach Rich Brooks in his post-game press conference, Boyd's interception was a microcosm of a Wildcat offense that did next to nothing in a 28-0 whipping at the hands of Louisville.

First, the U of L defensive front manhandled UK's offensive line, giving Boyd little time to get anything going.

"Whether it was the run or the pass, Shane was running for his life," Brooks said. "They totally won the war in the trenches."

UK offensive lineman Matt Huff said he sought out Boyd after the game to apologize for the line's poor performance.

"I've already apologized to him personally that it's going to get better, that we are going to block better for him the rest of the year," Huff said. "It has to be frustrating for him to not have time to hit open receivers. Every play he was getting pressure."

Brooks also pointed to a handful of poor decisions and poor throws by Boyd, none of which hurt the Cats more than the third-quarter pick that shifted momentum back to Louisville after UK had managed to hang around for the first two quarters.

Brooks said Boyd's ill-advised throw was reminiscent of the interception thrown by Jared Lorenzen last year against Florida that allowed the Gators to take control in the fourth quarter of their comeback 24-21 win.

"That took whatever wind we had out of our sails," Brooks said. "It kind of reminded me of (the Florida game) when Jared was spinning around and panicked and threw the ball up. And it was a killer."

Boyd said he knew it was trouble as soon as he was hit by Jones upon the ball's release.

"The pass didn't have a lot on it," he said. "I was trying to make a play, but when in doubt, take the sack and play the next play."

Boyd, who finished 14-for-34 passing for 172 yards with two interceptions, also wasn't helped by several drops by UK's wide receivers and the Cats' inability to establish a ground game with their running backs. Starting tailback Arliss Beach picked up just 24 yards on 10 carries, only slightly better than Boyd's 17 yards on nine carries. And freshman Tony Dixon coughed up a costly fumble with UK near midfield halfway through the second quarter.

The Wildcats enjoyed their best field position of the day when Chad Anderson intercepted a Stefan Lefors pass and returned it to the U of L 30. But that field position was wasted after Boyd led a wide-open Keenan Burton too much on a sideline route on second-and-5 from the 25, and a holding penalty and a sack ended that scoring threat.

Brooks said if Boyd connects with Burton on that throw, it would have not only resulted in UK's first touchdown, but also would have signaled "a different ball game."

"That's a key situation, and you've gotta make those plays," Brooks said.

UK has a bye week before its home opener with Indiana on Sept. 18. When asked if he was confident Boyd could get the offense going, Brooks replied, "At this point in time, yes.

"But we have to help him more. We have to protect him more and give him a chance to let the passing game develop. He shouldn't have to run for his life as much as he had to today. We have to block better."

Boyd said that while he wanted the opportunity he's waited so long for to turn out better, he won't get discouraged.

"We can't dwell on this," Boyd said. "Obviously we've got a lot to work on, but we've just to go back to work and get better."

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