September 30, 2013
For two weeks, Kentucky knew it would have to do something out of the ordinary to have a chance at an upset.
So they acted like an underdog: go for high-reward trick plays that, if you nail them, can swing a game.
"Yeah, out of respect for their defense, knowing that we were going to have a hard time moving the ball consistently," coach Mark Stoops said when asked if he knew UK would have to use some trick plays. "So we had to take some shots."
The first worked to perfection: kicker Joe Mansour danced into the end zone off a fake field goal attempt.
The second and third -- a reverse on 3rd-and-1 to open the third quarter and a wide receiver throwback in the fourth -- failed.
"We rolled the dice a couple times, which I felt like we had to coming into the game, just because of some of our matchups," Neal Brown said. "Backfired."
Let's take a look at why.
PLAY ONE: THE REVERSE
Brown said Kentucky had planned for two weeks to run a reverse on the first third-and-short situation they encountered. It came at an opportune time, on the first drive coming out of the half, with Kentucky down two touchdowns. A big play there creates an entirely new second half, in essence.
In theory, UK had two things going for it. One, they've been unsuccessful on third-and-shorts this year. Two, they've had two weeks to "grease up" a play, as Stoops said, for a situation exactly like this to catch Florida off guard.
"Thought if we could hit that, it gets us right back into the game coming out of the half," Brown said."
But it was a catastrophe from the start. Watch UK's right side of the line (specifically, right guard Kevin Mitchell, No. 79, and fullback D.J. Warren, No. 39) get blown up. That makes Blue have to veer even further into the backfield and away from that precious first-down marker. At one point, he's a full 10 yards away. By then, the left side has collapsed, forcing him to try and cut it upfield on his own. He got nowhere.
It's possible that it would have indeed been a huge gain had everything worked well. In this frame, you can see maybe enough action developing against the grain on the left side to where Blue -- had he been able to make it there -- could have gotten the edge. Instead, it was another failed third-down attempt.
"Didn't block it properly," Brown said. "So they got it right there."
PLAY TWO: THE THROWBACK
This was an interesting play, and one that I know UK has been practicing, in some variation, since the week before Western Kentucky.
They dialed it up in the third quarter, still trailing 14, on the Florida 22.
Wide receiver Daryl Collins (who the coaching staff has used extremely sparingly the last two weeks) went in motion before getting a pitch from Whitlow. He then stopped, planted and wheeled back around toward Whitlow, who had slid out to the left boundary. In front of him was two Florida defenders and four Kentucky blockers.
Collins went to throw before pulling it back down and taking an 11-yard sack.
"I was expecting it," Whitlow said. "I wish he would have. I guess he felt like somebody was in his face and he didn't want to make a bad play or a turnover, so he ate it. I wish he would have lobbed it over."
And from another angle:
"That was an opportunity to get some good yards on that play," Stoops said. "It was set up right like we wanted it to be."
That summed up both plays: good in theory, bad in execution.
Attribute some of that to Florida's defense. They're powerful and quick, and can disrupt plays in a matter of split-seconds.
I loved the approach. I think you have to be willing to take some risks if you're playing to win in Kentucky's situation. I also think you have to be ready to execute those plays, especially coming off a bye week in which you had plenty of time to prepare these exact plays.
"Any time you can't put points on the board," Whitlow said, "it's frustrating."