By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky running back Anthony White was part of the Air Raid offense at Kentucky when Mike Leach, now the head coach at Mississippi State, was the UK offensive coordinator.
He knows what type of offensive approach Leach’s passing attack will take against UK, which has the SEC’s worst rated pass defense.
“They are going to pick out individual players and (UK) guys are going to have to check themselves and start playing as a team,” White said. “I would hate to think we have digressed this much playing as a team unit.”
White didn’t like what he saw from UK’s defense in last week’s loss to Ole Miss, especially knowing how potent State’s offense can be. Kentucky allowed seven passing touchdowns in 13 games last year, the second fewest in college football. This year in two games UK has allowed seven passing touchdowns.
“Passion and doing this for your brother is what gets you to the next level. We are missing that,” White said on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports. “One time (an Ole Miss) guy has not yet caught the ball and he (the UK defender) gives up. He just quit running. If a guy caches ball and you know you are beat, you got to keep going. Fact you gave up is not the passion you need. I would fear going to the sideline and facing teammates and my position coach.”
White said the key to defending Leach’s offense is making tackles.
“You don’t want to get matched up one on one. That’s what they are looking for and trying to exploit,” White said. “If we play a soft zone and make them catch the ball underneath and get pressure (on the quarterback) to make him get the ball out of his hands quicker you can slow them down. It’s not rocket science.
“Don’t try to be cute on defense. Let them do what they do and then just make tackles. They will eventually take chances and stop the dink and dunk. But basically they are going to try and beat you one on one.”
Leach’s offense is used to facing zone defense and knows Kentucky will likely do the same like Arkansas did last week when it beat State.
“I didn’t see that so much as some magic to the game. I mean our execution was the difference. They executed. We didn’t, but that’s not some special thing. That’s not something that was newly invented either. You’ve got to go out there and execute,” Leach said. “They did. We didn’t. We just have to get better. We can’t rest on any level of perceived success. We have to be the same team every snap, and I didn’t think we were.”
Just as White said, Leach knows being patient is the best way to beat a zone defense. However, just as White said, Leach won’t play a passive offense.
“You have to do it aggressively. The guys away from the ball have to push and stretch the field also. Of course, you know, run the ball, be more consistently strong up front as far as moving the pile. But consistency, I think, would be the best way to put it. You’ve got to understand, we’re out of business decades ago if dropping eight is some secret deal,” Leach said.
“All those years we played Oregon (when he was at Washington State), I mean we got them four times, should have got them six. That was their thing was drop eight. They did a lot of drop eight.”