By Steve Daugherty
September 20, 2015
Random Musings On Saturday’s Disaster In Lexington
When the Cats hired the Offensive Coordinator away from West Virginia, it was promoted as a great hire, a guy that really knew the Air Raid offense but also was dedicated to the run. I remember thinking at the time I was a little concerned that although Dawson had been the Offensive Coordinator in Morgantown, he didn’t actually call the plays on game day. He was involved with the creation of the game plan but Mountaineer Head Coach Dana Holgerson actually called the plays on game day.
After watching Dawson in action for three games, I believe his inexperience with play calling is exposing its ugly head big time. The Cat offense looked good in the first half of its first two games but disastrous in the second half when adjustments have to be made on the fly. On Saturday, the Cat offense never looked good and it appeared Dawson was clueless as to how to make any adjustments.
When asked if he knew Florida would be tough to hold off in pass protection, he replied “Yeah, but you’ve got to have something else to go to. That’s my fault.” No argument here Coach. Even though the Cats were being whipped on the outside play after play, Dawson never did run any formations with a tight end or perhaps even two tight ends to help out the obviously overmatched Kentucky tackles.
Now I’m nowhere near to being at the point to say Dawson was a flop as a hire, but it is imperative to the Cat’s success the rest of the way that he improve in his performance.
I’ve been a huge fan of Patrick Towles since he looked good in a few appearances his true freshman year. I must admit though, he’s got to improve his play or this is not going to be the season Kentucky fans were hoping for. Granted on Saturday, Towles was under pressure quite often and suffered from a few drops, but he also missed some big throws that a redshirt Junior with a season as the starter under his belt should be making. Towles’ numbers against Florida, 8-for-24 with a total of 126 yards passing, were bad…really bad. Remember this is an Air Raid offense going against a Florida team surrendered 346 yards passing against ECU the previous week. Sure, the Gators were missing one of the best corners in the country in Vernon Hargreaves but still, there needs to be more "air" in Dawson's raid than that.
Towles throws way too many balls that seem to not hit the receivers in stride and way to many balls are overthrown. Towles has all of tools to be a great one, size, a hose for an arm, but the Air Raid is a precision offense and if Kentucky is going to be successful, Towles has to become more accurate.
Not to pile on Towles, but that decision or non-decision to throw the ball away while running out of the pocket on the next to last play of the game, was a crushing mistake. It pretty much tacked on about 15 yards to an already long 4th down play. A guy with Towles’ experience should not be making a mistake like that.
One final note, Patrick, cut the hair bro. You seem to be more preoccupied with making sure your hair is just right than making accurate throws. Start completing passes at a 60% clip and then you can look like you’re preparing for the lead in the sequel to Pineapple Express.
It’s no secret, Dorian Baker dropping that touchdown pass on the fourth play of the game, was a killer blow. If you want to compete in the SEC you just don’t drop those types of throws. While the Cat receivers are obviously much faster and more athletic, drops are still a problem and Kentucky is not good enough, especially offensively, to overcome mistakes like this. It isn't all doom and gloom for the young, talented Cats' receiving corps however, drops are a correctable problem. Repetition can improve a receiver's hands and many young wide outs have overcome early cases of the dropsies to go on and become reliable targets and even NFL hall of famers.
Watching Missouri earlier in the day, I was ready to pencil in 4-0 for the Cats heading into their game with Eastern Kentucky. I was not impressed with the Missouri offense at all as they struggled at home against a mid-major opponent. After Kentucky’s clunker later in the evening, I have serious concerns the Cat offense can score on the Tiger defense which appears to be stout once again. My other concern with Missouri is, that I believe, the best coach in the SEC is in Columbia, (and I don’t mean the Ol’ Ball Coach in South Carolina who I think may need to hang it up before he becomes irrelevant as some other great coaches have done in the past by staying too long) and that he’ll be slobbering after looking at the game film of Kentucky’s offense this season.
Perhaps even more harmful to Kentucky’s program with the loss Saturday to the Gators wasn’t the losing streak, or that they missed an opportunity to end it, or to go 3-0, but rather, almost all of Kentucky’s stellar recruiting class of 2016 was on hand to watch the Cats look bad. Hopefully, the poor showing by the Cat offense didn’t hurt their chances or maintaining their offensive commitments.
Quick Peak at Next Week
With all of this being said, I’m not completely down on the Cats and believe they will get things back on track or at least on track against Gary Pinkel and his Tigers. I predict the Cats bounce back at home, upset the 25th ranked Tigers, and take a 3-1 record into the EKU game.
Kentucky 21 Missouri 17.