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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Wildcats needed an open date

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Any time is a good time for an open date when you’re struggling like Kentucky is right now.

The Wildcats are off this week after getting crushed 54-3 last week at South Carolina. They’ve lost their last three games by a combined 137-20 margin.

“After a game like that, the majority of it is mental in trying to bounce back,” said Kentucky coach Joker Phillips, who’s using this week to try and find something (or someone) that can spark the Wildcats’ offense.

They’re ranked 119th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense, and the latest blow is that freshman running back Josh Clemons is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery. Clemons was one of the few players on Kentucky’s offense that had shown big-time playmaking ability.

Phillips doesn’t have a lot of options at quarterback, either. Junior Morgan Newton is completing just 46.5 percent of his passes and averaging 110.7 passing yards per game. He’s thrown six touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Freshman Maxwell Smith has also come in and played in the last few games, but hasn’t had much success.

“I don’t think our backup quarterback is as popular as most of them are,” Phillips said.

Having the extra week to get healthier should help, especially in the offensive line. Sophomore running back Raymond Sanders should also be healthier in two weeks against Jacksonville State.

Phillips said it’s important that Kentucky become more of a threat to run the ball at the quarterback position.

“We’re going to try to create more of a running game with the quarterback and give our receivers a chance to get more separation,” Phillips said.