Kentucky is 6-3 to this point in the season – a four-game improvement compared to the same time a year ago. The Wildcats nearly pulled off an upset of LSU with Lorenzen coming into the game for Shane Boyd in the third quarter and giving his team the lead.
Saban credits Lorenzen's improvement over the years with helping Kentucky lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring (34.9 points per game). The 6-4, 300-plus pound passer is the league's top-rated quarterback in terms of pass efficiency (144.0) and 17th overall in the country.
As a freshman in 2000, Lorenzen was 31-of-55 passing in a 34-0 loss to LSU at Tiger Stadium. The Wildcats out-gained LSU but could not deliver any telling blows in what would be the first career shutout for head coach Hal Mumme at Kentucky.
"The first year, I think that when you play pretty vanilla against him he was pretty effective," said Saban. "He sometimes had trouble handling pressure even though he was still hard to sack. He had trouble finding his receivers."
Lorenzen only threw eleven passes against LSU last season, and he's still sharing some of the playing time with Boyd. But through nine games, he has only three interceptions in 255 attempts.
"I think his biggest now is his ability to take advantage of the defense, the understanding of it," said Saban. "He throws the fade very well when you play any kind of bump-and-run against him. They've hit people on that and he's checked to it quite a bit."
Lorenzen is currently in the top 15 in SEC history in four categories; 11th in passing yards (7,736); 9th in completions (636), 9th in touchdown passes (58); and 10th in total offense (7,938).
One of his highlights in 2002 that stands out to Saban was against Georgia when Lorenzen was being brought down for an apparent sack. Before the Bulldogs could stop him, he switched the ball from his left throwing hand to his right and still completed a pass.
LSU nearly had him down for a sack on a two-point conversion play last year in Lexington, but Lorenzen managed to get rid of the ball and find tight end Derek Smith in the end zone.
"It really amazes me how many plays he makes under duress," said Saban. "That's a big difference now in him as a player as opposed to a couple of years ago."