Kentucky Wildcats offense taking less-is-more approach

Hoping to find solutions for a six-quarter power outage, the Kentucky offense is using a less-is-more approach this week in practice.

When the 0-2 Wildcats began preparation for this week's game against New Mexico State, the UK staff significantly scaled back what it had been trying to do the previous two weeks.

"We've got to go fast," Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said after Tuesday's practice. "Coach (Mark Stoops) is talking about executing, simplifying it, to play fast. That's what we're doing.

"And I say playing fast, meaning just get lined up, you have your job, and just do it fast. It's not necessarily going and trying to run a hundred plays. That's not going to do you any good if only 25 of them that are detailed. If we have 50 of them, 50 of them need to be detailed. If we have 75, 75 need to be detailed. And that's what we're doing."

The Kentucky staff re-evaluated its approach upon watching film Sunday night from the Cats' 45-7 loss at Florida. Gran noted the gameplan for New Mexico State will depend on what he sees in practice this week. As an example, he said if the Cats run 29 plays in practice and 10 of them are not "detailed," then the gameplan would only include 19 plays.

Gran said Monday's practice was "great" in terms of fundamentals and technique. "I thought they came out and responded."

He praised the unit for its "sense of urgency" on Tuesday.

All of that is required in a hurry as the Cats attempt to snap out of an offensive funk which has seen them score only one touchdown over the last six quarters of play. Kentucky has only 23 first downs through the first two weeks of the season compared to 60 for the opponent. UK has been outgained 1,084 yards to 558.

Despite the poor results, Gran insisted the unit is not hurting for confidence.

"No," he said. "They had confidence in the first week (scoring 35 points in the first half against Southern Miss). We got hit in the chin. We got hit in the mouth. Now, what are we going to do? That's the bottom line."

"I know we can be explosive," added UK starting quarterback Drew Barker.

A big part of Kentucky's problem has been turning the ball over. The Cats have seven turnovers in the last six quarters of play, all committed by the quarterbacks. Barker has been picked off four times in only 34 pass attempts. He has also lost two fumbles. Backup Stephen Johnson fumbled on his second play Saturday against Florida.

"We can't have any more turnovers," Gran said. "At the end of the day, we've got to protect the ball. That's our baby. That's inexcusable."

The turnovers have forced the UK defense to play far too many snaps in the first two games of the season. Opponents have run 179 plays; the Cats only 98.

"We've got to continue to work on third down because we've got to keep our defense off the field and sustain drives," Gran said. "... I want to see us go down and have a 12-play drive, you know. Let our defense drink some dang Gatorade."

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