Stopping the Wildcats' wildcat

Kentucky may not be winning games but their offense, for the most part, is not the reason. Kentucky's "WildKemp" offense has been a big part of their success but as you'll read, Tennessee coaches are more concerned with another Kentucky player running the football.

Trailing by 14 to South Carolina in the fourth quarter, Kentucky stormed back to beat the Gamecocks for a huge SEC win. Sound familiar?

The Wildcats do have a mobile quarterback in Patrick Towles but he isn’t the kind of dual-threat Joshua Dobbs is. So the Cats’ offensive coordinator, Neal Brown, went to JoJo Kemp and the Wildcat offense. Even when South Carolina was not fooled and knew Kemp was not going to hand it off to the wide receiver on the jet-sweep, Kemp picked up chunks of yards at a time before fighting into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown with just a couple of minutes to spare.

Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen has his guys prepared to face Kemp and all aspects of the Wildcat offense even the Wildcat offense.

“When JoJo’s in the game they’ll run their jet sweeps and the inside zone at the same time,” Thigpen said. "You just got to be able to fit the play and not let your eyes play tricks on you.”

Kemp has been able to get into the secondary within this scheme but not just him alone. Kentucky ran a double reverse out of the wildcat that ended with a long touchdown pass from Towles to Ryan Timmons. That means the secondary must be on alert as well when Kemp lines up at quarterback.

“It starts with the defensive line and our linebackers to be gap conscious,” secondaries coach Willie Martinez said about the wildcat offense Kentucky runs. “Obviously the secondary has got to do a good job of leverging plays.

Both coaches spoke very highly of Towles. Thigpen went as far as saying the Wildcat quarterback is going to be one of the better quarterbacks in this conference.

“Their quarterback is good enough where they don’t have to use JoJo Kemp,” Thigpen said. "The quarterback is a physical runner. So just by using him in the running game like they did against Georgia last week, they do a good job of running it.”

Willie Martinez was also praising the play that he has seen of Kentucky’s quarterback.

“Towles has been very effective,” Martinez said. “(Towles) has good command of the offense”

Because of Towles ability to run the ball and his arm Thigpen says that one player, having one let up on defense could lead to a scoring play for the team in blue,

“If he runs it one time,” Thigpen said. “Then guys don’t want to match routes anymore and then the quarterback is more deadly in the throwing game.”

The wins over South Carolina were Kentucky and Tennessee’s biggest wins of the season. Never mind the Wildcats have lost their last four because a win on Saturday would make them bowl eligible and Tennessee should expect Neal Brown’s offense to pull out all of the stops to try to take down the Vols.

Thigpen says Towles will be one of the best in the SEC

Inside Tennessee Top Stories