|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: Wildcats hope to hold the lines against surging Bulldogs|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2007 13:55|
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -Rich Brooks knows the play of his offensive and defensive lines have been just as important to No. 22 Kentucky's resurgence as quarterback Andre Woodson.|
Still, after watching both units struggle in a tough 27-20 win over Vanderbilt last week - a victory Brooks likened to a successful root canal - he wasn't in the mood to praise.
Blame it on an offensive line that allowed the Commodores to sack Woodson three times and a defensive line that gave up 239 yards rushing and let Vanderbilt control the ball for more than 35 minutes.
``On the whole it's the best offensive line I've had since I've been here, no question about it,'' Brooks said. ``We obviously wouldn't be sitting at 7-3 if they had not performed well. That doesn't mean I'm always going sprinkle the rose petals on them. ... They didn't play well last week and they know it.''
Both lines will need to be better - much better - on Saturday when the Wildcats (7-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) play at No. 8 Georgia (8-2, 5-2).
``Georgia is going to be a very severe challenge for our offensive team and our offensive line,'' Brooks said. ``We need to make sure that we don't beat ourselves by making mental mistakes.''
The Wildcats were able to keep Woodson's jersey clean in an upset over No. 1 LSU on Oct. 13. Since then, however, opponents have found a way to get Woodson to the turf, sacking him 12 times in the last three games.
Center Eric Scott blamed part of the problem on the way teams are attacking the Wildcats now after Kentucky got off to a 6-1 start.
``I think teams are scheming a lot more,'' Scott said. ``The further the season goes on, the more in-depth the looks are going to get. ... Teams are throwing new looks at us and we've got to adjust.''
For a unit that was relatively inexperienced at the beginning of the year, Scott said the line has played well. But he knows that after playing 10 games, being inexperienced is no longer an excuse.
``We need to give Andre the most time he can so he can make something happen,'' Scott said. ``That means we've got to get back to fundamentals and do a better job in the days leading up to the game.''
Brooks is careful when it comes to critiquing the Wildcats. After an arduous stretch in Kentucky faced South Carolina, LSU and Florida in consecutive weeks, Brooks knew there was bound to be a letdown.
``Sometimes you don't play at the same level every week,'' Brooks said. ``Obviously you don't beat the No. 1 team in the nation if you don't play pretty well. Would I like my team to play that well every week? Absolutely. Do I expect it to be a reality? Probably not. But we certainly have to play better than we played last week.''
That goes for the defense too.
While the Wildcats have made significant progress after being one of the worst defenses in the country a year ago, they're still 10th in the SEC yards allowed and don't rank in the top five in the conference in any major statistical category.
It'll only get harder on Saturday against the surging Bulldogs, who have scored more than 40 points in each of their last three games as running back Knowshon Moreno has evolved into one of the best freshman backs in the country.
``He's got great vision, great feet, he's everything you want in a running back,'' said defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon.
STILL STARTING: Casey Dick is still Arkansas' starting quarterback after being pulled during last weekend's loss to Tennessee.
Coach Houston Nutt said the junior will remain at the top of the depth chart for Saturday's matchup with Mississippi State. Dick was 12 of 22 passing for 140 yards and two interceptions in a 34-13 loss to the Volunteers. Nathan Emert came in and was 3-for-6 for 22 yards. He also had an interception run back for a touchdown.
Nutt said Dick needs to focus on avoiding mistakes and not try to do too much.
``Do what he's been doing most of the year, and that's handling the game,'' Nutt said.
Dick has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,205 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. With stars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at running back, Dick hasn't been asked to do too much.
Now Jones has a bruised thigh that limited him to 3 yards rushing against Tennessee. Nutt said Jones' outlook for this weekend is still unclear.
``He's improving,'' Nutt said. ``You just really won't know - probably another day or two.''
McFadden ran for 117 yards last weekend, but Arkansas fell behind early. Trailing 27-3, Dick went 3-for-5 on a drive that ended in a field goal. On the following drive, he helped the Razorbacks into field goal range again, but with the team facing a three-touchdown deficit, the Razorbacks went for it on fourth down and turned the ball over when Dick's pass for Peyton Hillis fell incomplete.
Emert came in on the next drive.
The previous week against South Carolina, Dick kept mistakes to a minimum. He was 8 of 10 passing for 86 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't have to attempt a pass in the second half as Arkansas held on for a 48-36 win. McFadden ran for 321 yards in that game.
``IRON BOWL: Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville isn't a fan of the decision to move the Iron Bowl to Thanksgiving weekend, leaving the Tigers with an open date Saturday.
The game was pushed back a week when Southeastern Conference athletic directors voted to require all teams to play on the holiday weekend. Auburn and Alabama both had scheduled an open date after the Iron Bowl since 1993 to provide an extra week before the SEC championship game.
With both teams struggling, that's not an issue this season. But Tuberville wishes the state's big rivalry game didn't have to compete with so many others, like Florida-Florida State and Tennessee-Kentucky, which actually has SEC title implications.
``I wasn't a proponent of this at all,'' Tuberville said. ``I think it brought down the interest in the game because there's so many other games on that Saturday. We don't have control of that. The SEC office says you play it, you play it.''
It's the first time Auburn has had an open date before playing Alabama since 1992, when the league started the championship game. Before that, both teams traditionally had an extra week to let the statewide hype mount.
HURTING DB: South Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn could be out of the season with a sprained left foot. Munnerlyn sprained his left foot two weeks ago against Arkansas. He was in on just one play against Florida last Saturday.
The sophomore started every game before he was injured. Munnerlyn has 47 tackles and leads the team with three interceptions.
HONORS: Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who accounted for seven touchdowns in the Gators' 51-31 victory over South Carolina, was the SEC offensive player of the week.
Mississippi State defensive back Anthony Johnson won defensive player of the week after returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in a victory over Alabama.
Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin made four field-goal attempts, including two from at least 50 yards, to win special teams player of the week.
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