October 12, 2011

Martin, Sanders swtich places in South Carolina loss

When freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith entered the third quarter of Kentucky's 54-3 loss to South Carolina on Saturday, it wasn't the only change the Wildcats had made in the passing game.

For the first time this season, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders spent the game on the sideline instead of in the press box. Wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Tee Martin replaced him in the coaches' booth. Special teams coach Greg Nord and defensive backs coachSteve Brown are the other UK coaches who spend the game in the press box.

"Randy wanted to be closer to Morgan," UK head coach Joker Phillips said. "He spends all of his time with Morgan throughout the week. We thought having Randy down there talking to him would help. Obviously it didn't. We're trying to find the right button and that wasn't the right button."

Phillips preceded Sanders as offensive coordinator and called offensive plays from the press box until being named head coach before the 2010 season. Last season was Sanders' first in the box since arriving at Kentucky, and he'd spent just one season there while he was an assistant at Tennessee.

By contrast, Martin was used to watching games from the press box. He was quarterbacks coach at New Mexico before he arrived at UK, and hadn't spent a season on the sidelines for games until he joined UK before the 2010 season.

"My eyes are a little different in terms of communication, being another set of eyes," Martin said. "(Sanders) can do both. He can really see well from the sideline. Some guys can't do that, he can do it."

Switching Sanders and Martin's location on game day doesn't mean their responsibilities have changed. Sanders still called the plays from the sidelines, as does UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter.

Being in the press box also allows Martin to help out more on special teams, where he has some responsibilities. While on the field earlier in the season, he was responsible, along with graduate assistant Andre' Woodson, for helping Morgan Newton out on the field. Nord, a longtime running backs coach, also serves as another pair of eyes for the offense in the press box.

Sanders hoped to address some of the communication issues the Wildcats had earlier in the year by moving to the field. He also wanted to be closer to the offensive players as they came off the field to read their body language and get a better feel for the game.

"I don't think there was any point (Saturday) where I didn't think I had a really good handle on what they were trying to do," Sanders said.

But Kentucky gained just 96 yards of offense in the loss. UK's coaches haven't decided if they'll stick with the change for the remainder of the season.

"Whether it made a difference or not, I don't know," Martin said. "It was a little different dynamic for him to be on the field, see some of the guys as they come off and feel their energy. It's good sometimes for the play caller to be down there."

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