Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger have nothing on Eddie Gran’s offense. The offensive execution (or should I say, lack thereof) was the scariest thing I saw during All Hallows Eve this year. Not that Kentucky had been lighting up the scoreboard in recent weeks, but call me crazy for thinking that the best offensive line in the history of the school, an emerging superstar at running back, and a top 50 recruit at quarterback could put up more than 3 points against anybody in the country. But if you’re an optimist, it was more than the 0 points we put up against Georgia last year, so I guess it was an improvement. Maybe next year we can actually score a touchdown.
This probably wasn’t what Joey Gatewood had in mind for his first college start. The highly touted sophomore completed 15 of 25 passes for a paltry 91 yards through the air, and 16 rushes for 23 yards on the ground. In his defense, getting your first start against a defense as good as Georgia’s is a tall order for any quarterback. In 1996, Tim Couch got his first start against Florida in the Swamp, and proceeded to complete 6 of 18 passes for 13 yards in a 65-0 loss to the Gators. And things turned out alright for Couch.
But if Joey Gatewood, or Terry Wilson, or Beau Allen want to accomplish anything close to what Tim Couch and the Air Raid were able to do, there are a lot of things that are going to need to be fixed. Kentucky didn’t even attempt to throw the ball downfield today and relied exclusively on short passes and bubble screens. The longest pass play was an 11 yard catch by Allen Dailey. Kentucky’s Senior running back AJ Rose, averaged 2.3 yards per carry. The Big Blue Wall offensive line can’t seem to get its pass protection down, allowing 4 sacks today. Our receivers continue to drop passes that hit them right in the hands. For the fourth time in six games the offense was held to under 300 total yards…So other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
The ONLY bright spot right now is Chris Rodriguez, who continued to average over 5 yards a carry for the season with 20 rushes for 108 yards against Georgia’s stout defense. But he isn’t Superman (even though he looked like he might be when he seemingly dragged the entire Georgia defense for extra yards on a first half carry), and can’t lead this offense by himself. With all of these issues on offense, there seems to be plenty of finger pointing going around from the fanbase. Some are ready for the Beau Allen era to begin, some are calling for AJ Rose to be demoted to 3rd or even 4th string at running back, some are blaming the wide receivers who don’t even seem to have the ability to catch a cold. But with this amount of disfunction, the blame should fall upon one man: Eddie Gran.
Let me be clear, I’m not calling for Gran to be fired (although his seat has to be getting at least a little warm). What he has accomplished since he started at Kentucky in 2016 has been impressive. He took a team that was supposed to be led by a pure pocket passer in Drew Barker in 2016 and completely redesigned it for a Junior College transfer named Stephen Johnson who was more comfortable out of the pocket. That season ended with Kentucky going to its first bowl game in 6 years. He did it again last year when every quarterback on the roster was hurt and Gran redesigned the offense with a wide receiver to take the snaps and created perhaps the most dominant rushing team in the history of the program.
Because of that history, I’m willing to give Coach Gran an opportunity to right this ship. Kentucky has a bye next week, meaning we have 2 weeks to fix the funk we are in before taking on Vanderbilt at home on November 14th. If you haven’t watched a Vanderbilt football game this year, they are awful. If there is a struggle to move the ball and score points against them, then we will all have to accept the fact that the only way we are winning any more games this season is if our defense can return multiple interceptions for touchdowns.
The schedule after Vanderbilt: at Alabama, at Florida, and South Carolina. If you thought today’s performance on Halloween was frightening, it could get worse. We need to see major improvement, or there will need to be some serious discussion on whether to cut ties and look for a new Offensive Coordinator after this season.
Time to earn your paycheck, Eddie.