Kentucky's Questions Could Turn Into Big Answers On Offense

Via aseaofblue.com

Kentucky's Questions Could Turn Into Big Answers On Offense

NCAA

Kentucky's Questions Could Turn Into Big Answers On Offense

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Via aseaofblue.com

The Kentucky Wildcat offense saw a tremendous rise in 2021 compared to years past under the direction of offensive coordinator Liam Coen. In 2020, the offense averaged 318 yards and 21.8 points per game. In 2021 those numbers jumped significantly, averaging 425 yards and 32.3 points per game. It didn’t take long for Coen to make an impact on the football field. Likewise, it didn’t take long for the big blue nation to get excited to see an explosive playing making offense as opposed to the one-dimensional ground and pound attack they had grown used to from years past.

Mark Stoops plan to move to a more balanced while at the same time explosive scheme was genius. It led to a ten-win season, more sold-out stadiums, and it caught the attention of more high-level recruits. So begs the question, what happens now? Coen is back in Los Angeles running second in command to Sean McVay. Wan’Dale Robinson, the Wildcats leading receiver and top play-maker is off to New York to live out his life-long dream with the Giants. Over half of the offensive line is gone to play on Sundays as well. Where does Stoops and the Wildcats go from here?

This question has however, several underlying other questions. The first being, how do you replace Coen? As previously mentioned, Coen made a massive impact during his one year in Lexington. He installed the most popular offensive scheme currently running in football, that being the McVay/Shanahan wide-zone west-coast offense. All recruiting efforts were geared towards this offense. There is a quarterback in place who excelled in this offense. How do you keep that continuity in place?

Stoops answered that question by dipping back into NFL and going back to that same tree. This time however, from the Shanahan side by nabbing 49ers quarterback coach Rich Scangarello. The new offensive coordinator comes with credentials as well. Scangarello has NFL play-calling experience and is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks, and he has a good one to start out with in Will Levis. Though Scangarello may throw his own flavor in the offense, the scheme and verbiage will be similar enough to make a smooth transition for the players already on the roster.

The next question is how do replace your All-SEC play-maker? Robinson will be leaving some big shoes to fill while also replacing your second leading receiver Josh Ali as well. That being said, the answer may be found simply in depth. Lead recruiter Vince Marrow and company have attacked the wide receiver position hard on the recruiting trail and it has paid dividends. The biggest and most immediate impact is through the transfer portal with Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson and Alabama transfer Javon Baker.

Robinson may not put up the same numbers as his predecessor playing in the slot, however, he will not need to and he is a proven play-maker in his own right. He is quick, explosive and also provides a punch in the return game. Baker is more unproven, coming in with limited snaps from the wide receiver factory that is Alabama. That being said, the former high four-star recruit has every trait you are looking for in an x-receiver. He’s big, physical, and even though not necessarily a burner, does have good deep speed. With snaps and opportunity, Baker could develop in to the deep threat the Wildcats have been lacking for a few years.

Kentucky also has a tremendous crop of freshmen both redshirt and true, that will be seeing the field early this year. Both Barion Brown and Dekel Crowdus have track level speed and big-time explosiveness and Dane Key provides another x-receiver who shined in the spring game and looks like a future star. Of course, were talking about un-proven commodities here outside of Robinson, however, the potential is very high in this young group of receivers.

Now we come to the offensive line. Stoops brought in a new offensive line coach with Zach Yenser who, like Scangarello is coming from the 49ers. Yenser has ties to program and has experience in the wide-zone scheme and looks to be a perfect fit for the program. As far as personnel, the losses of Luke Fortner and Dare Rosenthal are big, however, the Wildcats are returning Eli Cox and Kenneth Horsey. You also have players like Jeremey Flax and Jagar Burton coming up the line and Kentucky hit gold in the portal with Auburn transfer Tashawn Manning. You also cannot count out five-star freshman Kiyaunta Goodwin either. The big blue wall has become a staple for the Wildcats, and it doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Conclusion

Yes, Kentucky came into this off-season with questions. Replacing NFL players and coaches, though a good problem to have, is not easy. However, Kentucky still has a stable of running backs returning as well as a stud quarterback. If, the players and coaches mentioned today reach the potential their traits suggest they are more than capable of, than the answers provided by the work Stoops and his staff have done should leave little doubt just to how good this offense can be in 2022.

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