Three areas of improvement for Cats in week 3

By Cody Porter

Saturday’s game against Central Michigan began much like the Cats’ previous game against Western Kentucky. To put it simply, it was a struggle.

The offensive problems continued early on before it seemed to click in the second half.

In addition to the offense, the performance by the defense in the first half resembled a lost defensive unit from 2010, but much like last season, the defense, just as the offense, got its act together in the second half to shut down the Chippewas.

Heading into week three against the Louisville Cardinals, here are the three areas the Cats should look to improve.

1. Wide Receivers

It may have been a new week, but it was the same old story, or at least during the first half. Junior quarterback Morgan Newton finished the game completing nine of his 18 pass attempts. All but a couple of those incompletions can be blamed on Newton, as his receivers seemed to have a case of butterfingers. Senior wide receiver Matt Roark appeared to have been on the receiving end of a textbook touchdown catch from Newton when after a few moments, the referees ruled it an incompletion, resulting in only a field goal. Roark never saw the field again following that drop.

Junior La’Rod King was another one of those receivers early in the game before he began hauling in the big passes from Newton, finishing the game with 100 yards on five catches. Midway through the third quarter it became evident that the run was going to become the primary offense for the Cats, further limiting opportunities for other receivers to be able to showcase themselves.

If King, along with another hopeful receiver, can become consistent threats to the opposing defenses, then UK should be able to find the balance to help each aspect of its offense and begin to resemble the offense that fans had expected before the season began.

2. Pass Coverage

Can the Cats stop the run? Check. Can they prevent the pass? That is still a work in progress. As I indicated last week, Western Kentucky wide receivers were able to get open down field, but lacked a quarterback that could get the ball to them. This week gave the Cats defensive backs the opportunity to put their skills to the test against a pocket quarterback that could spread the ball around the field, and he did so successfully. Chippewas quarterback Ryan Radcliff finished the game 24-45 for 295 yards and one touchdown.

Once again, senior linebacker Danny Trevathan and senior safety Winston Guy were on top of their game, each finishing with 13 total tackles. Trevathan also had one of the team’s two interceptions for the game; the other was a pick by senior defensive back Randall Burden that came near the end of the game when the Chippewas were getting desperate.

In comparison, the Cats gave up more passing yards to Central Michigan than its prior opponent, South Carolina State, did during the Chippewas’ win in week one.

3. Fan Participation

New video boards, digital ribbon and sound systems were all installed in Commonwealth Stadium over the summer. The audio and video in the stadium helped add to the game day atmosphere. On top of that, a new policy was implemented that would encourage students to get to the game early, which, much to my surprise, seemed to work. So my question is, where were all the other fans? UK had its lowest attendance since 2006 with 58,022 fans in Commonwealth.

As the season neared, I often heard how excited people were to see the new additions to the stadium. Coupled with the new equipment, having fans in the stadium who can help create a raucous atmosphere could be a contributing factor to the team’s performance. Playing an in-state rival this coming Saturday would bring out the best in Big Blue Nation — or so I think. The “Believe” chants of 2007 were some of the best examples of UK fans working alongside their team and now with what the athletic department has brought to the stadium, it is something that should be replicated as big games loom.