4 Huge Things We Know After Week 2
There’s no doubt that UK fans are a little uneasy after struggling through the first two games of the season. While Southern Miss was expected to be a tough road test, everyone in Big Blue Nation expected an easy win over Eastern Kentucky, and that just didn’t happen. If you follow my twitter feed @businessraptor, you know I was a little frustrated Saturday, but now that some time has passed, I feel like things are about to turn up. Here’s what we know so far.
- The center position is a challenge. Nick Haynes is an excellent offensive lineman, but it is obvious he hasn’t had a lot of work snapping the football. We all knew Jon Toth was going to be missed, but we didn’t quite grasp just how much. Even though the depth chart still shows Bunchy Stallings OR Nick Haynes at center, it is certain that Bunchy will be snapping the ball. Drake Jackson is still an option down the road, but the coaching staff hasn’t made much comment on the possibility of bringing him into the mix at this point. The struggle with high snaps has caused too many busted plays during the first two weeks and it will for sure be a focal point by Eddie Gran while prepping for South Carolina this weekend.
2. The Wildcat must go. While we thoroughly enjoyed watching the wildcat in years past, it just doesn’t seem to work for this offense. At least not while the offensive line is still developing. It was somewhat surprising that UK couldn’t even get it going against an FCS defense on Saturday, but to me, the problem seems obvious. There’s no chance that Snell will pass and the defenses know it. EKU stacked the box and only had 1 defender guarding 3 receivers on the failed 4th and 1 play. If you never pass from Wildcat, and your offensive line is suspect, you have no chance at keeping the opposing defense honest.
3. Benny Snell is key. With Boom gone, Benny is going to get a lot of touches, and the run game is vital. Sihiem King will do a good job as a backup for Snell, but he doesn’t seem to have the big play capability we’ve seen from Snell. To get this going well, it comes down to the offensive line again. Their pass protection hasn’t been perfect, but their run blocking seems to be the biggest concern thus far. Defenses are going to continue to stack the box to stop Snell. It will also take a very good passing game to make them spread out and create opportunities for #26.
4. Stephen Johnson is our QB. Admittedly, I am not a football coach. I can’t pretend to know the depths of the sport the way Mark Stoops and his staff do, and I admire their intelligence. That being said, I don’t understand the plan to play Drew Barker in the 3rd series no matter what.
The game situation didn’t seem ready for it, and it seemed to really ruin the 1st half. I do think Barker is a very capable QB and if something happened to Johnson, he could handle the role. Johnson has earned the spot though. He has shown he is a winner, and he’s played well this year despite all the changes in front of him. If nothing else, Barker’s insertion against EKU should extinguish the ever-present QB controversy. It’s time for 100% of Big Blue Nation to step in and support Stephen Johnson as QB. If he starts playing poorly and making silly errors, by all means, fire up the controversy again. But as long as he’s doing his job well, we should let him enjoy a little security in his position with the Cats.
There’s of course issues on the defensive side of the ball too, but for now I am not as worried about that. They’ve got very good athletes and have shown improvement on stopping the run, so there’s plenty of reason for optimism.