LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Kentucky coach Guy Morriss discusses his key's to Saturday's non-conference matchup with Ball State out of the MAC:
n Don't underestimate the underdog
Auburn rolled to a 30-0 victory over the visiting Cardinals last week, but the Tigers managed only two field goals in the second half.
"If there was one thing that stood out about Ball State, in the fourth quarter, they were still playing hard," Morriss said. "They were flying to the football. There was no quit in their guys. You have to admire that quality, and I think they'll bring that same mindset down here because they've seen our film, too, and they know we're struggling offensively. So they're probably telling their players, if we can get our offense cranked up, we've got a chance to beat Kentucky."
The Cats enter the game as a 10- to 11-point favorite in most lines, but shouldn't be carrying an abundance of confidence into this one. Ball State has won five of its last eight while UK is riding a nine-game losing skid.
"We can't let them come down here in our backyard and knock us off," Morriss said. "It's that simple."
n Don't be the team that continues to lag offensively
The Cardinals had an offensive performance at Auburn that nearly made Kentucky's futility against Louisville look somewhat appealing. The Ball State offense was not only shut out, but produced only five first downs, 92 total yards and failed to cross midfield.
"Looking at them, they were a lot like us last week," Morriss said. "They tried to establish the run, and that didn't work. They tried to pass, and that didn't work. They just couldn't get anything going, and we know exactly what that feels like. Defensively, they just kind of got wore down by Auburn, more or less the same thing that happened late with us.
"We've got to be the team that comes out and sets the tone, controls the tempo of this game."
Just who will be spearheading the offensive attack remains to be seen. On Thursday, Morriss said a starting quarterback would not be named for the Ball State game. Many believe backup Shane Boyd, a redshirt freshman who was 3-for-6 for 34 yards and led one successful drive in last week's game, will get the call. Returning starter Jared Lorenzen took nine of 12 series against Louisville. That ratio will likely be closer to 50 percent this week.
n Be prepared to be tested in the passing game
While Ball State is not noted for a prolific passing attack --- a la Dave Ragone and Louisville --- Morriss thinks the Cards will try to set up the run by looking pass first.
"We did a good job against the run for the most part against Louisville," he said. "They'll mix in the run, but I think they'll probably throw it more than they did at Auburn. We've got to be ready to make some plays in the secondary."
Talmadge Hill didn't have any luck with Auburn's defense last week, completing just five of 16 attempts for 32 yards. The Cards had just one catch from five different receivers. He did, however, lead Ball State to victories in five of their last seven games after earning the starter's role midway through the 2000 season. He finished the season 130-of-212 for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Kentucky figures to be without a couple of key players in the secondary, outside safety David Johnson (hamstring) and cornerback Jeremy Bowie (groin).
n Handle assignments up front
"They don't try to get very tricky, but they will blitz you," Morriss said. "They try to keep you honest, just to make sure you're taking care of your responsibilities. They'll run a lot of stunts. They did at Auburn, and that's indicative of what they did last year down at Florida (in a 40-19 loss). Geez, they stunted about 60 times in that one. So we've got to be ready for that kind of stuff."
After a poor showing by the offensive line last week, Morriss plans to spend more time with the unit on the sidelines Saturday.
"I'm talking to John (Schlarman) about the O-line constantly, but I only went over there and talked two them two or three times, nowhere near as much as I have in the past," he said. "I think that's probably an area I need to do a little more. This Saturday, and from now on, I probably need to be over there giving them encouragement or geting in their faces sometimes when they need that, try to get them pumped up."
The UK offensive line produced only 58 yards rushing on 28 carries last week and surrendered three sacks.