UK Football

UK football's Dorian Baker moving on from dropped passes: 'I don't let anything haunt me'

Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Dorian Baker (2) dropped a would be touchdown in the first quarter as Kentucky played Florida on Saturday September 19, 2015 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Dorian Baker (2) dropped a would be touchdown in the first quarter as Kentucky played Florida on Saturday September 19, 2015 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

As the ball fell from his hands and into the checkerboard patterned end zone, Dorian Baker could only shake his head.

A touchdown catch just four plays into the game against Florida on Saturday would've been a huge boost for the Kentucky offense.

Instead, two plays later, another Patrick Towles pass sailed over the outstretched hands of Baker and into the arms of an eager Gators defender.

It was like a déjà vu moment for Baker, who dropped what looked sure to be a big-gain catch to open the game at South Carolina the week before.

But offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson doesn't want anyone — especially Baker — connecting those dots between games or worrying about drops, no matter how pivotal they seem.

"You guys are making way too much of that," Dawson said of the drop versus Florida. "I'm just being honest with you."

The Kentucky coach pointed to Kevin White, his former wideout at West Virginia taken sixth in the NFL Draft.

"I've never known of a receiver that didn't drop a pass," Dawson said.

There was lots of speculation, even from the UK head coach, about what might be going on with Baker.

"He's one of those guys that's high energy," Mark Stoops said on Monday. "I've talked about him before: just bringing him back in, getting his attention with us all the time. He's one of those guys, he's erratic, but I love the way he plays. I love his energy. I love his passion."

Stoops wondered if maybe Baker was a "little too amped up" before the game, but noted that the sophomore who leads UK in catches with 11 for 139 yards (and no touchdowns) did come back and make big plays.

"We can't overthink the drops, because he doesn't drop many, honestly," the head coach continued. But he has two big drops at the beginning of two games in a row, so I'll get asked about it, and he'll get asked about it. So deal with it. Deal with it and move on."

Baker didn't deny that he might be a bit too amped up before the game, but said he doesn't want the drops to define him.

"You can't let one pass in the first quarter get you down for the rest of the game because then you're going to continue to not make plays if it's still in your head," he said on Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-3 wideout from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who had 19 catches for 199 yards in 10 games last season, said he knows fans are disappointed, but he's moving on from the miscues.

"Fans are fans," he said. "Sometimes they don't understand. I'd like to see them come out here and do some stuff like that. But it's hard, you know what I'm saying? I'm a receiver, so it's my job, but I drop a pass, I got to keep moving on. I don't let anything haunt me."

That's been the overriding message from Dawson to his entire offense coming off its worst performance of the season against the Gators.

He wants the players to watch, learn and correct the mistakes, to not dwell on things they can't change as they prepare for another big game against Missouri on Saturday.

It will be a challenge against the Tigers, who have the nation's third-best passing defense this season. They have held opponents to just 112 yards a game in the air. Missouri has allowed just two passing touchdowns all season, and it has picked off four passes in the process.

Quarterback Patrick Towles, who admittedly had his own struggles in the game against Florida, said he hopes Dawson will call a play to get the ball to Baker early against the Tigers.

"No doubt he missed some opportunities on Saturday, but I did, too; so did everybody," Towles said of the sophomore. "There's plenty of blame to go around. I'll shoulder most of it.

"But he's a great player and he made some awesome catches today in practice, so we're excited about him going forward."

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