By LARRY VAUGHT
Remember earlier this week when Darin Hinshaw said quarterback Terry Wilson might throw 40 times per game — twice the amount he did last season — for Kentucky this year.
Many wondered then how defensive-minded Mark Stoops might go along with that.
During Kentucky’s Media Day on Friday, Stoops again emphasized his belief in a strong running game.
“You’ve heard me tell you the statistics. We do all the data. That’s not going to change. When you’re out-rushing your opponent by one yard, it gives you a big advantage. Playing good run defense, being able to run the ball is critically important. That’s a proven fact certainly in our league,” Stoops said.
“But every year, you’ve heard me talk about that this year, every team is different. You have to find the best way you can to help them win. If that is throwing the ball, however many times that is, if we have to do that to give us the best opportunity to win, then we’ll do that. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Stoops said he thought Hinshaw was just “piggybanking my comments” when he talked about throwing 40 times per game.
“That’s what I’ve said. Whatever we need to do,” Stoops said. “Every team is different. We’re a different football team this year than we were last year.
“We’re going to be improved in certain areas and maybe not as good. We’re never going to give our kids an out. We’re always looking to continue to build and improve in all years.”
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said he didn’t expect Kentucky to play at a faster tempo this season to help generate more offense.
“What we have to do is we have to be efficient on first down so we can have more plays. That efficiency in our first couple years was really good. Four yards or more on first down. Now you’re creating more first downs,” Gran said.
“In Cincinnati, even running the ball at 280 yards a game, 250 yards a game there. We were number one in the country in first downs. We weren’t just playing lightning fast. It was about the efficiency of first downs. If you get more first downs, you’ve got more plays, therefore you have more chances at being explosive.”