UK Football

UK offense seeks redemption

UK's La'Rod King dropped a long pass from Morgan Newton in the first quarter against Western Kentucky. King had as many drops (two) as catches.
UK's La'Rod King dropped a long pass from Morgan Newton in the first quarter against Western Kentucky. King had as many drops (two) as catches.

Reset.

Reboot.

Redeem.

It was hardly shocking that Kentucky had some offensive misfires in its season-opening victory over Western Kentucky University. It was UK's first game without veteran quarterback Mike Hartline and two of the most explosive playmakers in school history, Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb.

Yet how much the Cats' offense struggled against a Sun Belt Conference defense in UK's 14-3 victory — 97 yards passing, 93 rushing for a puny 190 yards total offense — was jarring.

So when Kentucky opens the 2011 home football season against Central Michigan on Saturday at high noon in Commonwealth Stadium, the UK offense will be on a mission of redemption.

The Kentucky receiving corps will be out to make a point. Against WKU, Wildcats wideouts and tight ends had exactly as many drops (seven) as catches.

"You hear all these questions I'm getting asked now about catches? I don't want to hear all that," said junior wide receiver La'Rod King, who had two catches and two drops last week in Nashville.

"It's very motivating. It's something you keep in the back of your mind, (you think) 'all right, I'm going to prove them wrong. I'm going to prove all my critics wrong, I'm going to prove you guys (the media) wrong, the fans wrong, everybody wrong.'"

The Kentucky offensive line will be out to prove a point. Expected to be the team's strength, a veteran albeit injury-ravaged UK line got pushed around by Western. The Kentucky O-Line allowed three sacks and could not open enough holes to allow UK to even rush for 100 yards as a team.

"People are now thinking our offensive line is bad," says pre-season All-SEC right guard Larry Warford. "We have to come out Saturday and show what we can do. We need to be physical, take over the trenches."

The Kentucky quarterback will, presumably, be out to prove a point. Morgan Newton didn't get a lot of help against Western, but the junior quarterback threw for only 97 yards, had three interceptions and again seemed hesitant at times in the pocket.

In 10 career starts, the Carmel, Ind., product has now thrown for less than 100 yards in a game six times.

Newton did not speak to the media this week.

"He looked better this week," Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips said of Newton's practice performance. "You kind of worry about guys, how they are going to react the next week.

"But Morgan is a guy who understands it, he understands how important 'presence' is. He knows those guys will feed off of his body language. I think his body language has been good this week."

For the UK offense, the mission against Central Michigan is clear.

Reset.

Reboot.

Redeem.

Says Phillips: "We've got to play better, especially, offensively. And I think we will."

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