Coen, Levis confident UK offense will turn the corner

Stoops expect BBN to be in ‘full effect’ on Saturday with sellout crowd


UK athletics photo

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis leaped for a first down in a win over Florida last Saturday at Kroger Field.

By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON (KT) — Will Levis knows Kentucky can’t rely on his defense to carry the weight of the team on its shoulders during the rest of the season and is confident the offense will begin a turnaround this weekend against LSU.

“If we want to beat LSU, we’re going to have to have better execution from our offense,” Levis said.

The 16th-ranked Wildcats (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) have scored just two touchdowns in wins over South Carolina and Florida, respectively, during the past couple of weeks. Kentucky also has struggled with turnovers and managed just 224 yards in a 20-13 win over the Gators last week. But offensive coordinator Liam Coen put things into perspective after the seven-point win over the Gators.

“We need to do better and we will get better,” Coen said. “Would we had like to have seen a ton of more execution and yards, absolutely, At the end of the day, a win like that is just incredible, no matter how it happens. I’m really tough on myself and it’s fun to be a part of.”

Coen said playing a mixture of defenses during the team’s first three conference encounters will help prepare the Wildcats for the upcoming encounters against the Tigers, followed by a showdown at No. 2 Georgia on Oct. 16 in Athens.

“I do believe it does help,” he said. “We haven’t really, truly played the top-notch defense, yet, if you really look at it. We executed well in some games and we obviously bit ourselves in the foot (at South Carolina), but if we’re looking at positives, we didn’t fumble the ball (against Florida). Nothing really prepares you for each week, but I do believe that our kids, they believed they could win (the Florida game) the whole week without a doubt.”

Coen, the former quarterbacks’ coach for the Los Angeles Rams, said the weekly grind of the SEC is comparable to what he experienced in the NFL on a weekly basis.

“It reminds you of the NFL because each week, is so difficult and it’s so physical and it’s draining,” Coen said. 

Despite the toll the physicality of the league has taken on the offense this season, Coen believes Levis will pick up the pace as the season progresses.

“At the end of the day, he gives a chance to win, because of his heart, through his leadership, toughness, and the way he plays the game,” Coen said. 

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops agreed.

“We’re still just a bit off, but again we’re doing the right things,” he said. “What I see is very positive. We’re doing the right things, it’s going to happen and Will is going to play better. I believe in what we’re doing and the whole group and it will come around.”

Gametracker: LSU at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.


It will be another sellout when Kentucky takes on LSU Saturday at Kroger Field and coach Mark Stoops is expecting the same atmosphere the Wildcats encountered following his team’s upset over Florida last Saturday.

“I have no doubt (the fans will be creating the same atmosphere),” Stoops said earlier this week. “The BBN, we’re just feeding them. They’ll be back out there with full effect on Saturday night. It’s going to be a great environment and I can’t wait.”

Moments after Kentucky defeated the Gators for the first time in 35 years on its own turf, Stoops praised the fans in the stands for their part in pulling the Cats through in a 20-13 victory that kept the team’s record unblemished at 5-0, including a perfect 3-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference. 

“I meant it, it was heartfelt,” Stoops said. “The minute I came in here I said ‘that was for the Big Blue Nation,’ because of a lot of reasons. The tough times for so many years against certain teams. I know the frustration, I’ve felt it since I’ve been here. For them to come out and affect that game, and help determine the outcome of that game, I know that was special to the Big Blue Nation. 

“Once again, can’t thank them enough. They certainly were a big part of determining the outcome of the football game. That’s home field advantage, and I look forward to having that each and every week.”

The full-throated crowd was instrumental in keeping Florida from communicating well on the field, leading to eight false start penalties. In other words, the fans literally impacted the game and Stoops wants them to repeat that effort against LSU.

Two years removed from a national championship, LSU has struggled this season and the Tigers are 8-7 since defeating Clemson 42-25 in the 2019 title game. LSU is 3-2 this season and coming off a 24-19 loss to Auburn, which was Auburn’s first win in Baton Rouge since 1999.

Kentucky hasn’t had much success against LSU and dropped a 41-3 decision in 2014. One of Kentucky’s most memorable performances against the Tigers came in 2007 when Kentucky defeated then top-ranked LSU 43-37 in triple overtime in 2007 at Kroger Field. LSU went on to win the national championship that season.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron, whose team is 1-1 against conference foes this season, took the blame for his team’s outing against Auburn last week.

“Ultimately, I’m responsible for the performance of this team,” Orgeron said earlier this week. “I’ve always been responsible and I always will be. First and foremost, I want to get that point across. … I’m going to take full responsibility for everything that happens in this program and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

As for his relationship with Orgeron, Stoops said there’s “no odd dynamic or anything like that.” 

“We really just see each other when we see each other at meetings and things of that nature,” Stoops said. “I have a lot of respect for Coach O and his players and his program and I would say that we have the type of relationship where we are cordial or professional when we see each other.”