FOOTBALL: Hudson falls on the sword

In the language of football coaches, Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson threw himself on the sword to save head coach Rich Brooks on Monday.

Whether that will be enough to save Brooks remains to be seen, but it's a start.

After Brooks and athletic director Mitch Barnhart came to a stubborn stalemate over staff changes last week, it appeared that Brooks might be on his way out as Kentucky's head coach if he refused to change his mind.

Instead, Hudson stepped up and stepped down, offering his resignation after two frustrating seasons at Kentucky.

"Because of the turmoil surrounding my future and the lack of production within the offense, I feel it would be in the best interest of the program that I relinquish my position at the University of Kentucky," Hudson said in a statement released by the university.

The Wildcats are 6-16 over the past two seasons and currently rank 115th in Division I-A in scoring offense and 114th in total offense.

"He felt that the negativity had become almost overwhelming, and he wanted the focus to go back on the team and the players," Brooks said.

While that appears to be take care of Brooks' future, for at least one year, it also presents the Wildcats (2-8, 1-6 SEC) with a more immediate problem as they prepare for Saturday's game at No. 15 Tennessee.

Hudson's resignation is immediate, so two assistant coaches -- Recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips and offensive line coach Paul Dunn will call the plays on Saturday against Tennessee.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Kentucky did come through with two fourth-quarter touchdowns when it really mattered two weeks ago against Vanderbilt, but this is still the same offense that ranks 115th nationally out of 117 Division I-A teams in both scoring and total offense, with 14.2 points and 270 total yards per game. The Wildcats also rank last in the SEC in another key category, with 24 turnovers. Add it all up and it led to offensive coordinator Ron Hudson announcing his resignation this week, effective immediately.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The expected progress the defense was supposed to make this season never materialized, due partly to injuries to key veterans and the suspension of FS Mike Williams, but the Wildcats did manage to hold Vanderbilt scoreless in the fourth quarter last week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We all envisioned that this would end up being a little better than it is right now. We knew it wouldn't be easy and that we would have some struggles, but we certainly didn't anticipate this, and I didn't anticipate this for Ron Hudson. I'm sick to my stomach about it. I don't think he forgot how to coach. Some situations just don't work out the way you want them to." -- Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Kentucky at Tennessee, Nov. 27 -- Tennessee has won the past 19 meetings in the series, dating back to 1985, and it's hard to imagine that streak ending without the Vols giving this game away. Kentucky could play for pride or to help embattled coach Rich Brooks, but it will take a whole lot more than that to win this game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QBs Andre Woodson and Shane Boyd -- Woodson has emerged as the better quarterback over the past month, but played a limited role last week against Vanderbilt because of a sprained ankle. Still, it was Boyd who stood up and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the 14-13 win over Vandy.

DB Muhammad Abdullah -- With senior FS Mike Williams suspended for the rest of the season, Abdullah has had to carry a heavier load. He carried it well against Vanderbilt with 10 tackles, eight solos, two tackles for losses, two sacks and a forced fumble. He ranks second on the team with 53 tackles and leads the team with three INTs and two fumble recoveries.

ROSTER REPORT: After last week's open date coach Rich Brooks is counting on the return of several key players, including DE Sweet Pea Burns (ankle), KR Dicky Lyons Jr. (shoulder), RB Tony Dixon (ankle) and, RB-PR Andrew Hopewell (thigh), DE Ellery Moore (ankle) and CB Earven Flowers (hip). ... The Wildcats, however, will not have freshman linebacker Wesley Woodyard back in time from a badly sprained ankle. Woodyard has been one of the bright spots in the second half of the season after moving from safety.

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