Sunday, September 23, 2001

Lorenzen's inactivity ominous

By Tim Sullivan
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEXINGTON — Maybe Jared Lorenzen should take the hint and take a hike. Maybe he should read between the lines and recognize he's been written off. Maybe he should leave the University of Kentucky before he outlasts his welcome.

        Last year's Wildcats quarterback is this year's sideline spectator. Lorenzen, the prolific sophomore passer from Highlands, lost his starting job to freshman Shane Boyd three weeks ago and is already an afterthought.

        He never got off the bench during Kentucky's 44-10 blowout loss to second-ranked Florida Saturday afternoon. He spent the afternoon wearing a golf visor instead of a helmet. He signaled plays from the sideline instead of calling them at the line of scrimmage. His most vivid moment was an enthusiastic chest-bump with Boyd after the lone Kentucky touchdown.

        Strange. Lorenzen threw more interceptions than touchdowns last season, and he was admittedly lousy in UK's opener against Louisville. Yet wasn't he the guy who threw for 363 yards against Florida last year, and 528 against Georgia? Wouldn't he be worth a look when Kentucky is compelled to play catch-up?

        Guy Morriss didn't seem to think so. Kentucky's new head coach has abandoned Hal Mumme's quick-strike offense and installed a more deliberate scheme ostensibly designed to keep his defense off the field. The result, so far, is stagnation.

        “We're mad,” tight end Derek Smith said. “Extremely mad. Frustrated, too. We feel like we have a great offense and we're not playing the way we should be playing ... A lot of players have a lot of things on their mind. I think it's the players' turn to say what we think is going to work.”

        Smith, who played with Lorenzen at Highlands, was not espousing mutiny but scrutiny. He stressed his respect for his coaches but called for a meeting to air players' concerns about an offense that produced only 11 first downs Saturday.

        “I don't think we have our players in the right place to get the ball,” Smith said. “... We get over the 50 (yard line) and we don't feel like we have any plays to run.”

        Some of this, Morriss conceded, is a function of starting a (redshirt) freshman at quarterback. Boyd is a gifted athlete, strong-armed and quick-footed, and he's bound to get better, but his decision-making Saturday was dubious.

        “There were some checks he could have made to get us going in the running game,” Morriss said. “There were a couple of pass plays where they put on the blitz he could have done a little better.”

        How well Lorenzen would have fared is conjecture. Kentucky last beat Florida in 1986 and, Morriss said, remains “outathleted.” Yet when a coach sticks with his starting quarterback when trailing by five touchdowns, he's saying he'd rather take his lumps than test his alternatives.

        “I just thought it was something where we had to let Shane push through it,” Morriss said.

        What Lorenzen was thinking he kept to himself. He did not respond to an interview request submitted through channels. Maybe he was busy updating his resume.

        Contact Tim Sullivan at 768-8456; fax: 768-8550; e-mail: Cincinnati.Com keyword: Sullivan.


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