VAUGHT: UK offense must be a lot better in 2005

For Kentucky to be a better football team this season, the offense has to be better. Of course, considering how ineffective UK was most of last year, it shouldn't be hard to be better. But for the Cats to be successful, the offense has to be a lot better.

Yet don't forget that Kentucky's top two quarterbacks — Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley — have played in a combined seven games. Woodson didn't play in 2003, started one game last year and played behind Shane Boyd in six others. Pulley is a true freshman.

"That's just the reality of college football today," Kentucky quarterback coach Kurt Roper said. "We as coaches understand productivity is what wins games and what should be expected out of us. We would like to see this offense improve. That's the challenge. We all think we can do that, too."

Roper knows there is one other important reality the Kentucky offense faces.

"If you are coaching football in the SEC, the reality is finding a way to be successful against very good defenses every week," Roper said. "If you are not successful, then there is change at a lot of places. For us to be successful, we have to score points. That's our job. We believe we are good at our job and we can get a lot out of our players. We have talented players. We see great defenses each week, but we still have to find ways to compete and win."

Roper likes what he's seen from Woodson as the Cats prepare for the Sept. 4 opener with Louisville, a game that could well set the tone for UK's season.

"He is a guy who gets completions. He is going to take care of the ball," Roper said. "His work ethic is improving. You don't ever stop trying to improve yourself and that was an area he needed to grow. He has done that.

"His mental toughness is moving in the right direction. At this position if you are not a mentally tough football player and able to focus and push through the hard times whether it is in a meeting time when you are tired, doing repetitions on field when you are worn out or competing in a tough football game in fourth quarter against great team, then you are not going to succeed. You've got to be mentally tough to succeed, and he is."

Roper thinks Woodson's supporting cast also gives him an edge. "We do have playmakers. We have guys that if you get them in space, they have a chance to be successful getting yards and putting points on the board. That helps any quarterback."

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