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From the Pressbox: Pre-WKU notebook

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Sometimes, numbers don't tell the whole story.

Last season, Kentucky ranked near the bottom nationally in plays of 20 or more yards. Through two games, the Cats have moved up to 58th in the nation but if you move the "big play" defining line from 20 yards to 15, the stats look even better. Through two games, Maxwell Smith has completed 14 passes for a gain of at least 15 yards. That's only two short of UK's total for ALL of last season in that category.

Western Kentucky, by the way, is in the top 25 this season in plays going for 20 or more yards

Power running game still a WKU staple


WKU coach Willie Taggart comes from the Jim Harbaugh coaching tree and that means a commitment to a power running game.  Last season, the Toppers ranked 35th in the nation in rushing offense at just over 181 yards per game. That running game will provide a stern test to a UK linebacker corps still very light on experience.

Against Alabama, Western managed only 46 net yards on 28 attempts after piling up 244 yards on the ground in the opener against Austin Peay.  In a loss to LSU last fall, WKU ran it 45 times for 129 yards.  Against Kentucky, WKU ran for 141 yards last season.

Comparing new no-huddle attack to Air Raid offense

Think UK's up-tempo, pass-oriented attack is akin to the Air Raid offense of the late 1990s here. Not so fast my friend, as ESPN's Lee Corso would say.

On "The Leach Report" radio show this week, former UK signal-caller Dusty Bonner said this scheme is "quite different" than the one he directed to a Music City Bowl bid in 1999.

Bonner says this is "more of a pro-style offense" and that there's "not as much of a learning curve to the NFL as our offense was." One difference Bonner noted was that the tight end always lined up on the right side of the formation in Hal Mumme's system but that in this offense, you see the tight end on either side. He says UK is probably looking for a 60-40 pass-to-run balance while the Air Raid was "probably 85-15."

Joker Phillips has said it was important to him to keep the elements of multiple tight end and fullback formations in the playbook when UK made this switch. That enables the Cats to be less of a finesse team in short yardage and red-zone situations.

Recalling Abney on day of Hall of Fame induction


UK's latest Hall of Fame class includes one of the all-time great kickoff and punt returners in college football history in Derek Abney.  

He tied a national record during his senior season in 2003 with his eighth career return of a kick for a touchdown.  

Abney is alone atop the UK record book for career punt return touchdowns with six and he had four of them in one season, 2002.  Can you name the only other former Wildcats to have more than one punt return for touchdown in a single season?

Larry Carter (1978), Dicky Lyons, Sr., (1966) and Calvin Bird (1959) each had two.

Don't be surprised if Demarco Robinson gets his first one sometime this season.

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