UK Football

UK football's receivers have room for improvement

Kentucky's Demarco Robinson (9) caught a pass in the second quarter of the Kentucky at LSU football game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rogue, La.,, on Oct. 18, 2014. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff
Kentucky's Demarco Robinson (9) caught a pass in the second quarter of the Kentucky at LSU football game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rogue, La.,, on Oct. 18, 2014. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff Lexington Herald-Leader

Many of the players hanging their heads after the loss at Louisiana State on Saturday were sitting up a little straighter in their position meetings this week.

Sometimes it takes seeing your mistakes on video, slowed down and sped up over and over again, for them to really sink in.

None of Kentucky's wide receivers was happy about his play after the Cats' 41-3 loss at LSU.

"Normally in our meetings, I try to be locked in as much as possible, but this week, as you saw the results, it kicked up a notch," freshman wide receiver Garrett Johnson said on Tuesday as Kentucky gets ready for No. 1 Mississippi State.

Senior Demarco Robinson, who had the best game of any UK wideout with just three catches for 52 yards, said wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord had every player's undivided attention.

"Just the little things, all the stuff Coach harps on that we don't really think is as important as it is, but after we come back and watch the game film on Monday, we always see it, that Coach is right," Robinson said.

Every wide receiver left his position meeting knowing that there were multiple things to work on. Kentucky's 146 yards passing against the Tigers were a season low.

Every wide receiver walked away knowing that he had some individual things to work on: what most of them called "the little things" that can make a huge difference.

For Johnson it was discipline in route running and trying to play at the right tempo.

For others, it was playing at pad level and using their hands, especially against the big, physical cornerbacks at Louisiana State.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown never thought his wideouts adjusted well to the size of LSU's secondary.

The wide receivers coach agreed.

It was all over the game tape.

"When you play against great competition, sometimes all the things you're not great at really highlight and show out," Mainord said. "And because those guys that are big and athletic and strong like that, they can find your faults fast and that's what happened some."

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops hopes that when that group met on Monday it came up with more effective ways to get open against press coverage.

"That's a physical bunch that doesn't give you a lot of space," he said of LSU. "You have to beat 'em, you have to make plays. We can compete at a higher level. We need to be more detailed on some of our routes, and there is a lot of things we can all do better."

On paper, Kentucky's wide receivers will have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend against Mississippi State, which is the nation's fifth-worst passing defense, allowing 308.3 yards a game.

The Bulldogs, who have allowed 11 touchdowns through the air and picked off 11 passes this season, haven't held an opponent under 200 yards passing this season.

They've allowed three foes — LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama-Birmingham — to throw for 340 or more yards. For UAB it was 435 yards and three touchdowns.

But those stats can be a bit deceiving, Brown noted.

"They've jumped on teams in a hurry," he said. "They got up on LSU quickly. They got up on A&M quickly. ... They got up on those three teams really quick and those teams had no choice but to throw the ball."

Against what Brown called the "best front seven that we've played all year," though, throwing the ball might be the Cats' best chance.

That means UK's quarterback and wideouts have to get some confidence back quickly.

"Anybody watching the game saw that the receivers weren't making as many plays as we're capable of doing," Johnson said. "We're focused on that this week, working much harder, focusing on the smaller things, but we'll get that right."

Quarterback Patrick Towles was confident on Tuesday that UK has put a bad loss behind it.

"As you play better people, the sharper you have to be and the less you can get away with," he said. "So I have to be sharper, our line has to be sharper, everybody has to be sharper. And today was a really good step toward that."

No updates on 'Boom'

Stanley "Boom" Williams, a key playmaker for the Kentucky offense, did not practice on Tuesday after suffering a head injury against LSU on Saturday.

"He did not practice today," Brown said. "We're — you know, I'm hopeful — but we'll see on that. I leave that up to the doctors."

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