UK announces Morriss will be back

UK announced on Sunday that Guy Morriss will be retained as head football coach...

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- The University of Kentucky announced Sunday that Guy Morriss will be retained as head coach of the football Wildcats one day after the team completed its season with a 26-15 loss at Indiana.

Morriss guided the Cats to a 2-9 record, but won the respect of UK President Lee Todd and Athletics Director Larry Ivy for the way he managed the team during a year which has seen an NCAA investigation and numerous personnel problems inherited from the previous head coach, Hal Mumme.

Guy Morriss makes his point with an SEC official (AllSport Photo).

Ivy, Morriss, and the University President, Dr. Lee Todd, will conduct a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. ET in the Wildcat Den at Commonwealth Stadium.

Morriss was hired on Feb. 6 following the resignation of Mumme.  At that time, Ivy noted that Morriss would be evaluated during the season and an announcement of Morriss' status would be made after the conclusion of the season.

Morriss has completed one year of a five-year contract as head coach of the Wildcats. But terms of the contract dictate that he can be evaluated at the end of each season and dismissed with no financial compensation if the school sees fit.

Kentucky was 1-7 in the Southeastern Conference.  The Wildcats posted victories over Ball State and Vanderbilt, with the win over the Commodores breaking a 15-game league losing streak.  The Wildcats lost by a total of seven points against SEC divisional champions Tennessee (38-35) and LSU (29-25).

The Cats' 2001 schedule is currently rated the most difficult in the SEC, and the 11th most difficult in the nation, according to the Sagarin computer rankings in USA Today.

The Kentucky offense showed great improvement during the second half of the campaign.  Since games of Oct. 20, Kentucky led the SEC in passing offense (376 yards per game) and was third in the league in total offense (456.2 yards per game).  The Wildcats averaged 29.8 points per game since Oct. 20 after averaging 18.3 points in the first half of the season.

The Kentucky defense had to overcome numerous obstacles in the 2001 season, including a lack of depth and inexperience at key positions.  Five starters from the 2000 defense signed NFL contracts, another returning starter became ineligible, and 11 defensive players missed a total of 47 games this season because of injury or other reasons, yet the 2001 defense still allowed fewer points than their 2000 counterparts.

Special teams also made some key contributions.  The team net punting average of 39.8 net yards per punt was the third-best in school history, just one-tenth of a yard short of the team record.  Third-team All-America punter Glenn Pakulak leads the SEC in punting and ranks fifth nationally.  Punt returner Derek Abney was among the national rankings for much of the season.  UK blocked a field goal against Ball State that was an important play in the win over the Cardinals.  In kick coverage, the Wildcats did not allow a kickoff or punt to be returned for a touchdown all season.

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