Kentucky's best offense?

Kentucky scored points in bunches when Tim Couch was operating Hal Mumme's pass-happy ''Air Raid'' attack in the late 1990s. Still, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer thinks this year's Big Blue offense may be even tougher to stop.

''I think this is the best Kentucky team we've seen in some time for what they do,'' Fulmer said. ''Obviously, when they had Tim Couch and were throwing it all over the field, they were really good in the passing game. But their balance (this year) makes them much more difficult to defense ... along with the maturing process of their quarterback.''

That would be Jared Lorenzen. The Hefty Lefty -- all 6-4 and 280 pounds of him -- no longer relies on ''strong-arm'' tactics to win games. He's developed a better feel for the game, better decision-making skills and better touch on the finesse throws. In short, he's become a complete quarterback this year.

''He's really doing a good job managing the game, checks and those kind of things,'' Fulmer said. ''And it helps when you've got the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference (Artose Pinner) to hand it to.''

Pinner leads the SEC in rushing with 1,363 yards -- more than 400 yards ahead of runnerup Musa Smith (Georgia) at 952. Pinner, a 5-11, 238-pounder with speed and power, was a relative unknown heading into the 2002 season.

''Sometimes kids get their opportunity (and shine),'' Fulmer said. ''We've had a couple of those cases -- Travis Henry and Travis Stephens -- guys who have done well, then all of a sudden have a breakout kind of year. Pinner's certainly having one of those.''

Lorenzen leads the SEC in passing efficiency (141.1) and touchdown passes (24). In addition, he has thrown just five interceptions in 304 attempts. By comparison, Florida's Rex Grossman has thrown 16 interceptions and Ole Miss' Eli Manning 13.

The combination of Pinner's rushing skills and Lorenzen's passing skills has enabled Kentucky to lead the SEC in scoring at 35.0 points per game. The Wildcats have 19 rushing touchdowns and 24 passing touchdowns.

''In that era when they were throwing it so much, you're always sitting there as a coach thinking, 'If they could do that AND run the football, they would be really dangerous.' Now they do.''


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