Kentucky WR Dekel Crowdus is frustrated with Wildcats OC Rich Scangarello’s red zone play call

Kentucky football is a long way from where it was expected in mid-November, unranked and 6-4 after an unthinkable home loss to Vanderbilt in Week 11. The Wildcats’ offense hasn’t clicked like hoped under the first-year offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, and it’s been made clear that at least one player in Lexington is frustrated by this. Kentucky wide receiver Deco Crowdus went so far as to blame Scangarello’s play-calling for the Wildcats’ red-zone fights that year.

“I probably would have to say the play caller because we were down in the red zone and just couldn’t get it. That’s pretty much all I can say,” Crowdus, a former four-star signee in Kentucky’s 2021 class, told reporters when asked why the red-zone fights were happening.

Kentucky, which ended the Vanderbilt loss, ranks 96th in the red zone conversion rate on the FBS. More broadly, Kentucky has not scored 30 points or more in a game since beating Northern Illinois 31-27 earlier in the season and has been held to 21 points or less in three of their last six games.

In the 24-21 loss to Vanderbilt, Wildcats quarterback Will Levis was ineffective, completing just 11 of his 23 pass attempts for 109 yards and one interception. He only completed two passes in the second half as Kentucky focused more on the running game.

Things aren’t getting any easier for Kentucky as they host No. 1 Georgia on Saturday.

“I expect our team will do that. It’s been a tough year and challenging times.” Kentucky coach Markus Stoops said. “There are things that everyone can do better. I’m sure the team is very hurt and embarrassed by how they played. We all are. There’s only one way out. There’s no way to put fingers show or something.” We know there are issues, things that need to be addressed. That will happen at the right time. And then there is work. That’s it. You just have to go back and work and try to get better in every area.”

As for Scangarello, he was turned off by the San Francisco 49ers staff during the offseason to take over as Kentucky’s offensive coordinator thereafter Liam Coen left the Wildcats for the same role with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. He also served as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos in 2019, having previously worked on the 49ers’ staff.

“Rich did a great job. It’s hard to lose him. I started with Rich in Atlanta where he worked primarily on the run (game) and our offensive line coach (Chris Morgan). But he was always a quarterback guy and that’s why I wanted to bring him to San Francisco,” said the 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Scangarello after his first exit out of the Bay Area in 2019 The Denver Post.

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Prior to 2022, Scangarello last coached at the college level with Wagner in 2016. contributed to this report.