Cats know stopping Webb won’t be easy

Linebacker Josh Allen will be chasing Vandy running back Richard Webb Saturday. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Linebacker Josh Allen (41) will be chasing Vandy running back Ralph Webb Saturday. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Even though Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason says he will look at other offensive “options” for Saturday’s game at Kentucky that could involve more passing.

Most of the season, the Vanderbilt offense has been running back Ralph Webb. He’s had his hands on the ball in about 40 percent of Vandy’s offensive plays. But the Commodores have struggled more on offense than even Kentucky has.

“It is tough yards for him. You know it is. In this last game in particular against Florida, they really got in big sets, they got in two-tight-end-and-a-fullback sets and/or 12-personnel, two tight ends and two wide outs. They were getting in big sets and really pounding the football,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

“He’s a very, very good player. He gets quality yards. He’s tough to bring down. He’s got good vision, and they’re riding him right now because they’re making it difficult on defenses with the sifting and the motioning and creating extra gaps with some power-run game. Then they have a great back like Ralph back there getting tough yards. So, they’ve really kind of settled in.

“Looks like they have an identity and what they want to be. They’re playing good defense. Very opportunistic, creating turnovers. They’re very good, they’re plus-three in the turnover ratio, and he’s obviously protecting the football so they’re doing very good things and Ralph definitely makes it very difficult on defenses.”

Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot calls Webb “an excellent tailback” who enables the Commodores to run well out of a pro-style offense.

“They do a lot of shifts, motions. They get lined up and they try to posses the ball,” Eliot said. “They make sure that they’re going to keep the ball in their offense’s hands, and they do that by running an effective pro-style offense. They run the ball very well and we’ve got to be able to stop them.”

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  1. How many times has an opponent run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and the UK defense knows the opponent is going to run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, but the UK defense cannot seem to figure out that the guy who carries it on 40% of all their plays will be the one who runs the ball, runs the ball, runs the ball?

    Larry writes, “He’s had his hands on the ball in about 40 percent of Vandy’s offensive plays.” Let’s be clear, Vanderbilt runs an average of 68 plays per game, and 40% of that is 27 carries for this guy. However, Vandy runs the ball on only 39 plays per game, which means he gets the ball on 2/3 of all their running plays.

    Why wouldn’t UK dedicate one, or if necessary two linebackers to do nothing but get this guy, come heck or high water!!!! Force Vanderbilt to beat them through the air where they are barely completing 50% of attempts with 1 interception per game?

    I am not a football coach, so I hope someone can explain to me why the UK defensive game plan is not as I have outlined above.

  2. Took the words right out of my mouth. Make their QB beat you.

  3. A little more information about Vanderbilt.

    Webb averages 116.4 yards per game, while their rushing game averages only 148.4 yds/game. Their next best rusher is Blasingame with 7 carries per game for 31.6 yds/game. Their QB, Shumur has 17 carries for a -6.2 yds/game. That is it. nine other players have combined for a total of 24 carries in 5 games for a total of about 10 yds per game.

    Stop Webb is job one, and perhaps job 2 and job 3 in this game for the defense. How much simpler can it be for the coaches and players to get it? However, I suspect that the defensive heads will be filled with two dozen schemes, stunts, blitzes, and packages, each requiring players to read the offensive sets and movements for hints.

    Stop Webb.

    1. Let’s hope Eliot is not scheming the plays or we are in trouble.

  4. You have a point..

  5. Webb is a great back that UK must stop, but Vandy’s strength is their defense. UK can’t beat themselves. UK can not turn the ball over like they did at Alabama and win this game. Mason is a great defensive coach, his team will fight.

  6. We should be able to focus on shutting Webb down. Make them earn the yards elsewhere.

  7. I didn’t realize UK had published their defensive game plan.

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