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In recent seasons the University of Kentucky offense has had about as much versatility as a set of snow tires. Weeks away from the season opener, head coach Mark Stoops knows the Wildcats need to change gears if they plan on plowing through the always competitive SEC.
The scheme is changing, but the overall philosophy is staying the same. Kentucky is a point of attack team that wants to operate with a run-heavy approach. The Wildcats just need to get the play-action pass game up and rolling to create balance. #SECMD21 https://t.co/dQpJBzmIW5
— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) July 21, 2021
“That’s the simple answer that everybody understands, that we need to have more balance,” Stoops said during SEC Media Day. “We ran the football extremely well for years, and we want to continue to do that. But we want to take advantage of that as well and be able to be efficient in the play-action pass and getting the ball down the field. I feel like we certainly improved in that area.”
In the offseason, Kentucky nabbed Liam Coen, formerly of the LA Rams, to run their offense. Coen’s the Wildcats’ fourth different offensive coordinator in Stoops’ nine seasons in Lexington. He’ll be tasked with continuing to successfully run the ball, while improving a passing attack that’s thrown for just 30 scores over their last 37 games: “Also, there’s some versatility in the run game that we can continue to add to,” Stoops said. “…I feel good about it. It’s going to be different, but I always want to have a strong physical presence and want to be able to run the football,” said Stoops per Kentucky Sports Radio.
Led by standout running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. , who averaged an SEC-best 6.6 yards per carry last fall, Coen and the Wildcats will still lean heavily on their running game. “Me being a defensive guy for years and years, you always feel that threat, it’s always very aggravating when teams can run the ball on you,” commented Stoops. “So we want to have a strong physical presence but, again, get the ball down the field and create explosive plays.”
In other words, there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell that Big Blue is going to abandon the run. But with a little offensive versatility, the Wildcats could find themselves playing for an SEC title for the first time in the Stoops era.