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What Golf Tells Us About Bush Hamdan's Kentucky Offense

Nick Roushby:Nick Roush05/20/24


Brock Vandagriff On Blue-white Game

Xander Schauffele’s name has been etched on the Wanamaker Trophy after surviving 72 holes of the PGA Championship. Last week I spent four days working at Valhalla Golf Club. In the midst of all the chaos, I couldn’t get one line from Kentucky spring practice out of my head.

Brock Vandagriff scored a few touchdowns during his first appearance in a Kentucky uniform at the Blue-White “Spring Game.” He looked solid, but there weren’t a ton of “wow” plays. The way he put it, that was exactly what new offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan wanted to see.

“What he wanted the quarterbacks to do is to come out there and be the most boring golfers ever,” said Vandagriff. “He said you’re going to go out there and pull out your 3-wood and you’re going to hit it 200 yards straight down the pipe and you’re gonna have a great approach shot and if something presents itself, take it. If not, just take what the defense gives you.”

That quote was not well-received by diehard Kentucky football fans on social media. The biggest criticism of Mark Stoops during his 12-year tenure has been the conservative style of his offense. That quote gives those critics more ammunition.

Instead of fanning the flame of that fire, I avoided getting into too much detail about it on the website, even though the longer version of that quote makes sense. In Vandagriff’s eyes, he’s a point guard who is simply facilitating for the playmakers. He doesn’t need to be a hero for Kentucky to move the football down the field.

“Tony Romo sees four verts as a running back’s play. You’re spreading everybody out and you got a one-on-one with your running back and the Mike linebacker. He’s gotta make him miss. If something presents itself on the perimeter, then obviously, you’re going to take it. You’re looking, ‘Hey, I’m going to take this if it’s there and move the chains.’

Little dinks and dunks like that, that’s something we’re going to be perfect at. I’m taking three steps as fast as I can and I’m throwing it to him. The cornerback might miss the tackle. If not, it’s a six-yard gain, second and four or second and five. Being really efficient in those plays is something we really stressed.”

It may not be music to every Kentucky fan’s ears, but a boring golfer is what Kentucky needs from its quarterback. The Wildcats had more 50+ yard passing plays than any team in the SEC last fall, but would anybody here describe last year’s passing offense as good? You can’t when your quarterback is completing only 54.2% of his passes against SEC foes.

The Kentucky offense threw more interceptions than any other team in the SEC last fall and ranked in the bottom half of the league in third down conversions. The operation was slow, never crisp, and consistently behind the chains.

We’re not exactly sure what Bush Hamdan’s offense will look like this fall. If this approach is Gospel in the quarterback room, Kentucky should be more efficient, particularly on early downs. Dinking and dunking down the field doesn’t sound sexy until Barion Brown or Ja’Mori Maclin turns a 6-yard pass into a 60-yard gain. Being a boring golfer may not get your name on the Wanamaker Trophy, but you can still win a lot of money playing under par.

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