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Wildcats QB promises BIG problems for USF

UK's Jared Lorenzen is showing the ability to pass, run and knock down defenders.

While many have been quick to compare Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen with Dusty Bonner, the quarterback he replaced in the spring, Kentucky coaches and players are making another comparison.

They think Lorenzen may be better than Tim Couch.

Yes, that good.

Couch is the all-time career passing leader at Kentucky with 8,435 yards and 74 touchdowns, but Kentucky coach Hal Mumme believes Lorenzen has the potential to be even better.

"I think that even Tim will tell you that Jared's arm is stronger than his," Mumme said. "Jared is able to do what other quarterbacks can't. He is accurate and he has great touch. There is not a drawback to Jared."

Accuracy, great touch and the body of an offensive lineman.

At 6 feet 4, 275 pounds, the redshirt freshman is drawing as much attention for his size as his passing ability. He has speed and agility, and he can take a defender out if necessary.

"In the spring, one of the guys tried to take him out at knee level and Jared jumped over him and kept on running," linebacker Marlon McCree said. "He's got great arm strength and he has the potential to be better than Tim Couch."

It's that size _ and Lorenzen's ability to move _ that poses a threat for South Florida when the Bulls play at 1:30 p.m. today at Commonwealth Stadium.

"He's good," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "It's interesting when you watch the opening play of that game (Louisville), he takes off and runs. This is a big fella that's running. He gains about 30 yards and runs over a guy. He's a good player."

The fact Lorenzen is leading the Wildcats in today's game is somewhat surprising.

Lorenzen expected to battle Bonner for the starting job this season. Last year, Bonner led the SEC in passing efficiency (137.0), completing 303 of 465 passes for 3,266 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Kentucky finished 6-5 and lost 20-13 to Syracuse in the Music City Bowl.

Then one day last spring, a couple of months after drills had ended, Bonner and Lorenzen got the news. Lorenzen was the quarterback of the future for Kentucky.

"When Coach Mumme called to tell me that I was the starter, I was speechless happy, very happy, but still speechless," Lorenzen said. "All I could do was say thank you. I had no idea what to say at that point. I thought that I would be pushing Dusty in the fall for the spot, but this had never really crossed my mind."

Nor had it crossed Bonner's.

"I was coming out of the shower and (Mumme) said he wanted to talk to me," said Bonner, now the starting quarterback at Valdosta State, where Mumme coached for five seasons before coming to Kentucky.

"I really didn't know what to say. I was in shock. I was told before the spring that there was going to be competition and the only way I wouldn't be playing was if I lost the competition and it was obvious."

So Bonner thought about it for a few days, then did the only thing he thought he could: He left the team.

"As far as personal feelings, I don't really talk about that," Bonner said. "I keep those to myself."

With Bonner gone, the pressure of leading Kentucky _ and proving Mumme made the right decision _ falls squarely on Lorenzen's shoulders. He is convinced he can shoulder the weight. Lorenzen threw for more than 300 yards in an overtime loss to Louisville last week but also threw a late interception that set up the winning touchdown.

"If people and the media realize that there are going to be bumps in the road during my first year, I can go warm up on the field and play the game needed to win," Lorenzen said. "We have a legitimate chance to lead the conference and win the championship. And the team and I expect to take Kentucky to a major bowl in the next two years."

And when Kentucky takes the home field for the first time this season today against USF, what will Bonner think?

"I'll cheer for my buddies," he said. "I can't cheer against my friends."

NOTE: Senior reserve linebacker Marshall Smith did not make the trip. He has strep throat.

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