WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Cats show improvement in passing game

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's loss to Louisville on Saturday
wasn't all bad for the Wildcats; it showed an improvement in the
team's passing game which had been near the bottom of the nation's
rankings.
Head coach Joker Phillips said it will have to keep getting
better if his team wants any chance at beating Florida on Saturday
night.
Kentucky's running game was woeful Saturday without starter
Raymond Sanders, running for just 35 yards on 32 carries. Sanders,
who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week, will also miss this
week's game.
It doesn't help Kentucky that the Gators rank first in the
country in rush defense - they've given up just 30.7 rushing yards
per game in three games.
Wide receivers coach Tee Martin, who is also the Wildcats'
passing game coordinator, says Florida's defense is challenging
because of its talent and speed among defensive linemen and
linebackers.
"When I played, you turned on film and you knew those front
seven were going to play in the NFL," said Martin, who played
quarterback at Tennessee from 1996-99. "That's what you see when
you turn on the film now. We're going to be challenged up front to
block them, and we're going to be challenged as receivers and
running backs to make an emphasis to compete in the passing game."
Despite Florida's abilities against the run and UK's futility on
the ground last week, Martin said the gameplan to attack Florida
isn't any different than usual; the coaching staff will go into the
game with a balanced pass/run approach. But against Louisville, the
staff saw that they weren't moving the ball on the ground so they
abandoned it in the fourth quarter in favor of the pass.
If the Wildcats want to go to the air more often, another
reliable target for quarterback Morgan Newton emerged Saturday.
Junior E.J. Fields had never caught a pass in his 13 prior games of
game experience, but he caught seven against Louisville for 57
yards, including his first touchdown.
Six of Fields' seven receptions went for first downs, and four
of those were on third down. Fields' only catch that didn't go for
a first down was his fourth-quarter touchdown catch that put the
Wildcats within one possession.
Phillips said having another option is critical because
preparing for Florida's team speed makes it difficult to prepare.
The more options, the better, he said.
"You could get a few cheetahs, a few hyenas," Phillips said.
"We could probably go to the track team and that still wouldn't be
that close."
Phillips said he has confidence in running backs Josh Clemons
and CoShik Williams against Florida, but he says it won't be an
easy thing against a defense that has been the best in the nation
against the run.
Both Phillips and Martin agree that if the Wildcats have any
shot of snapping their 24-game losing streak to Florida, a lot of
it will have to come via the passing game.
"We sped the offense up and moved down the field pretty good
with the pass against Louisville last week when the run wasn't
working for us at that particular time," Martin said. "If that's
how it turns out, that's how it turns out, but we don't want to
concede that from the start. Morgan is feeling more confident and
we're feeling confident in him if that's what we need to do."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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