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SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Five Good Takeaways From UK Football


What a time to be alive, right?

Not only do the Cat fans have the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the country and they’re playing out of their collective minds, but our football team is 7-5, winning four games in the SEC and including the Governor’s Cup championship after defeating hated rival Louisville in the Pizza Box with perhaps the Heisman Trophy-winning QB. And Kentucky is going bowling for the first time since 2010. Good times in the LEX for sure!


And they haven’t declared ourselves Life Champions yet like the football team to the south! (Here’s looking at you, Butch.)

So we are going to look at this page- turning season for Kentucky football through the eyes of both a former teacher and a former football coach. The first part of this series of articles will deal with the offensive side of the football.

If anyone knows me, they know I love to study offenses. Just my favorite, I guess. But the way we will look at it is through the eyes of a rubric. Some of you are asking, a rubric? What in the world? Let me explain right fast. A rubric has point values and gives a general grade for the topic. So our rubric will go like this:

4- Distinguished

3- Proficient

2- Apprentice

1- Novice

We will rate each group on the offense and give a rubric grade for the group. It’s just the teacher in me, I guess. So let’s get rolling!

1. Quarterbacks: The Cats started out with sophomore Drew Barker behind center for the first two games. After posting pretty good numbers in the upset loss to Southern Miss and getting beat down in a debacle at Florida, Kentucky stood at 0-2. After getting injured against a lowly New Mexico State team and the Aggies playing out of their minds, Barker gave way to little known commodity Stephen Johnson. All he proceeded to do is lead Kentucky to a 7-3 record the rest of the way. Johnson did it with quiet confidence and leadership when the Cats needed it the most, consistently getting better each week and culminating with a performance for the ages against Louisville.

Rubric Score- 3

2. Running backs: The Cats combo of junior Boom Williams and Freshman Benjamin Snell Jr. have lit up the field this year, giving the Cats two 1,000 yard backs in the same backfield. They put the Cats on the map with a SEC-level rushing game. And they both come back next year. Beautiful!

Rubric Score- 4

3. Wide Receivers: The Cats have a load of size, speed, and talent on the outside, but they have been a little overshadowed by the power running game the Cats have established. But Jeff Badet, Ryan Timmons, Dorian Baker, and Juice Johnson have all made huge plays recently. This group has gotten better as the passing game with Johnson has gotten stronger.

Rubric Score- 2.5

4. Tight End: I love C.J. Conrad. He will be playing on Sundays someday. Great hands, smart, deceptive speed for his size, and a willingness to put the needs of his team first by choosing to be a great blocker first instead of pouting wanting the ball. Kudos!

Rubric Score- 3.5

5. Offensive Line: Simply put, the best collection of linemen I can ever remember at Kentucky. Led by senior Jon Toth, this group paved the way for all of the Cats success on offense period. In my opinion, they are this team’s MVP.

Rubric Score- 4

So let’s recap:

QB- 3

RB- 4

WR- 2.5

TE- 3.5

OL- 4

So the group average is 3.4, which is a very solid proficient. Not too bad!

The next column will cover UK defense.

Shane Shackleford is a retired teacher and coach living in Cumberland Gap, TN with his wife Elizabeth and three dogs Molly, Bear, and Lady. You can contact him by e-mail at coachshack50@gmail.com, follow his blog at https://notesfromthebackporchblog.wordpress.com/, on Facebook, or Twitter @coach_shack_1.


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