COLUMN: Rich Scangarello is the reason for Kentucky’s offensive struggles


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello walks off the field after the No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 14 Ole Miss football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss won 22-19. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Drew Johnson, Reporter

As it currently stands, Kentucky football has ruined a season that could have potentially been a turning point in the program.

It was still a salvageable season after a gritty loss against Ole Miss as a frustrating last three minutes could be chalked up to just plain misfortune. It was even still salvageable after an ugly loss against South Carolina, although that loss now meant Kentucky would have to beat either Tennessee or Georgia to make up for it, but now, to not only lose to arch-rival Tennessee, but to be absolutely drummed by the Volunteers, the season is unsavable.

What many fans were hoping would be a 10-2 team is now looking to be 8-4 at best, as the rest of Kentucky’s schedule can only hurt the team with a loss, with the exception of the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Wildcats have been putrid offensively, showing out only against FCS competition and falling apart against SEC opponents.

The unit as a whole had 205 total yards for one touchdown and went 2-13 on third downs against Tennessee, while NFL prospect Will Levis finished the game against the Volunteers with three interceptions and only 98 passing yards for zero touchdowns.

There’s no debate about whether the offense is talented or not, Levis is a likely first-round pick in the NFL draft this offseason, Chris Rodriguez Jr. is undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the history of the program numbers-wise and Kentucky added a multitude of weapons in the receiver room.

While the offensive line has been struggling, there’s been improvement over the course of the season, and the unit simply isn’t bad enough to single-handedly tank the season.

When you have that much talent on your roster, the blame then has to be directed at the coaching staff, and in this instance, the blame goes to offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.

Head coach Mark Stoops could even potentially be feeling the same way, as he seemed to take a shot at “Scang” in his press conference on Monday.

“You certainly better look at it, you better address it, and you better get it fixed or you’re not going to last,” Stoops said when describing aspects of the team that haven’t been meeting standards.

Kentucky’s offensive play calling has been absolutely terrible this season. It’s become so bad that many fans watching from home or in the crowd can almost guess what is going to happen from play to play: run the ball on first down, run the ball on second down and then throw either a deep ball or a screen pass on third down.

It’s an incredibly predictable gameplan, and Tennessee finally exposed it, holding the Cats to a measly six points throughout the entirety of the game.

This isn’t the first time Scangarello has struggled as an offensive coordinator, either. He was fired from the Denver Broncos less than a year after his hiring as offensive coordinator when the Broncos ranked in the bottom of the NFL in nearly every offensive category.

His only experience in an offensive coordinator position at the collegiate level is at FCS Wagner in 2016, before he left for the 49ers the next season.

In a college football landscape, where offense is far-and-away the most important thing to a team’s success, Kentucky is looking at an offensive coordinator who has struggled with previous coordinator positions and struggled to maintain a consistent job in the industry having taken on 10 different positions since 2009 with five in the last five years.

All of that may lead one to wonder if Scangarello is truly the right fit for the job at UK because, if he is, then he certainly needs to show it and improve drastically before Kentucky can make those next steps as a football program.