Kentucky fans became spoiled after watching Andre Woodson put on a show for the two years prior to Michael Hartline taking over the offense as a redshirt-sophomore. The tendency was to forget that Woodson, himself, struggled mightily as a redshirt-sophomore. Still, many of the offensive problems that the Wildcats had were placed on the shoulders of the young quarterback from Ohio.
Now with new-found confidence in himself and his teammates, Hartline has an opportunity to show that he is capable of a much better season than last year. "It's the most comfortable I've felt since I've been here," Hartline said. "Last year were kind of short-handed because of the young guys, one being myself. Now we have big strong targets. Guys that know what they are doing. Guys that just wanna make plays and get the football," said Hartline.
It's clear that there is a difference between 2009's Hartline and 2008's Hartline. Last year, there wasn't an abundance of passes thrown down field partially due to lack of confidence in the receivers and then there was the thought that Hartline couldn't get it down there. But this year that's not the case. : "We completed throws down the field in the vertical passing game in spring and fall practice. You'll see it this year more than last year," said Rich Brooks.
"I've been really working hard fundamentally. I'm not trying to overthrow it. I've got plenty of arm to make the throws that I need to make. Sometimes I just grip too hard or try to overthrow and it comes out crazy," said Hartline.
Trust had become a factor for Hartline and his teammates at one point last year. Many people thought that he had placed blame on the offensive problems on the young receiving corps. However it appears that those problems are solved, as Hartline is depending on his teammates and believing in them. "I'm just trying to relax, be confident and trust my guys," he said.
Hartline has done a better job this fall in getting the ball down field and his receivers have done a better job catching the ball. "Hartline threw the ball very well. He threw the ball accurately deep and short, and over the middle in every situation," said Brooks after the first scrimmage of fall camp.
"He has always been great at managing the offense. Now we've got guys outside making plays," said Joker Phillips, Kentucky's Head Coach of Offense and Head Coach-in-waiting. "Mike Hartline is just so much better. He's getting a lot more help. The balls are being caught. I think one or two passes were dropped by the second (team) and third (team)," said Phillips of the scrimmage last weekend.
It appears that Hartline has done what was asked of him this spring and this summer. Now can he do what is required over the brutal twelve game schedule?
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