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Kentucky Football Position by Position Preview: Offensive Line

Part four in an eight part series previewing the 2013 Football Wildcats.

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On the night of September 29, 2012, the Kentucky football Wildcats were looking to shock the world, or least the 49,800 who showed up at Commonwealth Stadium to see the Cats entertain Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks.  At halftime, against all odds, Kentucky held a 17-7 lead.  For what would turn out to be the final time in a woeful season, Commonwealth was alive.  Jalen Whitlow’s legs and an inspired defensive effort had put the Cats in position for a monumental upset.  Unfortunately, the second half arrived, and Jadeveon Clowney and his fellow other-worldly cast of defensive linemen descended upon Whitlow and company like a swarm of angry bees.  Kentucky had no answer for this relentless assault, and was outscored 31-0 in the second half.  The upset bid, and seemingly the last bit of fight of the 2012 team, was extinguished.  Kentucky simply could not hold up at the point of attack.

 

Judging the 2012 Kentucky offensive line based on one half against South Carolina, featuring the nation’s premier player at defensive end, is actually a bit unfair.  In a nightmarish season, the offensive line was a relative bright spot.  The example is given only to underscore the absolutely crucial nature of offensive line play.  If a team is manhandled at the point of attack, scheme, coaching and dynamic skill position talent are all irrelevant. Playing in the SEC, Kentucky will again face defensive lines the like of which are typically only seen on Sundays.  Will the 2013 Kentucky offensive line be able to repel another avalanche of disruptive plays like the one we saw against the gamecocks last September?

 

Post-Spring Depth Chart:

 

Left Tackle:

Darrian Miller 6-5, 284, Jr., Lexington, KY (Bryan Station)

Tyler Davenport 6-5, 296, Jr., Hodgenville, KY (Larue County)- walk on

 

Left Guard:

Zach West 6-4, 308, So., Lexington, KY (Lexington Christian Academy) or

Teven Eatmon-Nared 6-7, 330, Jr., Bucyrus, OH

Max Godby 6-4, 280, Jr., Louisville, KY (Christian Academy of Louisville)-walk on

Jordan Watson 6-4, 303, Fr-RS, Fayetteville, GA

 

Center:

Zach Myers 6-3, 277 Fr-RS, Miamisburg, OH

Jon Toth 6-5, 283 Fr-RS, Indianapolis, IN

Max Godby 6-4, 280, Jr., Louisville, KY (Christian Academy of Louisville)-walk on

 

Right Guard:

Kevin Mitchell 6-6, 289, Sr., Winston, GA

John Gruenschlaeger 6-11, 350 So., Ft. Thomas, KY (Newport Central Catholic)-walk on

Bill Davis 6-2, 320, So., Lexington, KY (Dunbar)-walk on

 

Right Tackle:

Jordan Swindle 6-7,290, So., St. Johns, FL

Shaquille Love 6-4, 313 So., Harriman, TN

 

Newcomers:

Justin Day 6-8, 305 Fr., Aiken, SC

Nick Haynes 6-3, 305 Fr., Niceville, FL

Kyle Meadows 6-5, 270 Fr., West Chester, OH

Ramsey Meyers 6-4, 290 Fr., Orange Park, FL

 

Why we should feel confident:

On a roster that lacks experience in a number of key positions, the offensive line provides some degree of veteran stability.  Kentucky returns three starters in tackle Darrian Miller, guard Zach West and guard/tackle Kevin Mitchell.  Prospective right tackle starter Jordan Swindle played in all but one game last season as a reserve.  In addition, although the previous staff did not do any great favors for Mark Stoops and company in building a roster, they did bring in and redshirt three offensive line prospects that should now be ready for game action.  (Centers Zach Myers and Jon Toth and guard Jordan Watson.)

 

Kentucky has versatile linemen.  Kevin Mitchell, who started every game of the 2012 season at right tackle, has been moved to guard.  Zach West, who was a standout starter at left guard as a redshirt freshman last season, is also working at center.  (see below)  Having linemen versatile enough to rotate to multiple offensive line posts is a luxury that will help the Cats survive the inevitable injury factory that is SEC football.

 

Darrian Miller is a prototypical left tackle with excellent feet.  Coaches believe that he will play in the NFL if he continues to develop.  In a passing offense like Kentucky intends to run, it is imperative that left tackle be an anchor.  Miller provides a good starting point to keeping the Wildcat quarterbacks upright.

 

Why we should be concerned:

 

At all levels of football, no matter what formations or offensive system a team runs, each play starts out the same way: with a snap.  At this point, not only do the Cats not know who will receive the snap, they don’t know who will deliver it.  The center carries huge responsibility in almost every offensive system.  Typically, it is the center that makes the protection calls.  He then must deliver the ball accurately to the quarterback each time as he is being ambushed by a 300 pound behemoth.  Kentucky will start either a redshirt freshman or a converted guard at this critical position. Though all the candidates seem to be viable options, it is a little unsettling to not have that spot secure just a month from the start of the season.

 

Although Kentucky has several players with experience, there are still far too few BCS quality offensive linemen on the roster.  As noted above, the depth chart is dotted with second and third string players who are walk ons.  This situation can only be remedied through time and recruiting. Yesterday’s verbal commitment from four star offensive lineman Nick Richardson is a nice start.  

 

Not So Big Uglies:

Much has been made of the work of High Performance Coach Erik Korem, and his scientific approach to nutrition and fitness. Players have raved about the transformation of their bodies under his tutelage.  Apparently, the offensive line has not been immune from these changes. Of the 13 players listed in the Post-Spring Roster, all but one have lost weight since last season.  (Total of 95 pounds)  Coaches hope a more physically fit and agile line will offset this loss of bulk.

 

Position Battles:

While the eyes of fans will no doubt be on the quarterback battle, the camp competition at center may be just as important to the success of the 2013 Cats.  The official depth chart found in Kentucky’s 2013 Media Guide, and earlier in this post, indicates that the primary competitors for the starting center spot are redshirt freshmen, Zach Meyers and Jon Toth.  However, as indicated above, recent statements from Neal Brown indicate that returning starting guard Zach West will be given the chance to take the position.  Reading the tea leaves, it seems that if West can perfect the shotgun snap, he has the inside track on the job.

 

Article written by Duncan Cavanah

19 Comments for Kentucky Football Position by Position Preview: Offensive Line



  1. Matt Jones
    12:09 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    Looks like another 2-10 season this year, but the fewcha is bright



  2. Drew Franklin
    12:16 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    But look at summa the teams we play and how they are ranked starting the preseason:

    1 – Alabama
    5 – Georgia
    7 – South Carolina
    9 – Luh Vul
    10 – Florida



  3. Awwww How Cute
    12:33 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    Congratulations to UK. You almost made the top 100 in the Coaches Poll. Just a but short though. UK will start the season ranked #101. LOL.



  4. Bobbum man
    12:54 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    Is that a typo or do we really have a 6’11 350lb guard???



  5. Bobbum man
    12:56 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    3- and we’re the toughest game on your schedule. LOL



  6. It's right
    1:04 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    #4 that’s right. But the kid is a walk on that had few legit D-1 offers. Think Herman Munster wearing 15 lb. concrete boots. May see some time, but only because we short of SEC caliber linemen.



  7. cracka
    1:12 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    only 1 senior in the bunch to lose this year (good for the future) … of those 18 lineman, 10 are either a freshman, redshirt freshman or a walk-n (bad for this year)



  8. cracka
    1:16 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    only 3 upperclassmen on scholly, thanks Joke!



  9. Awwww how stupid
    1:35 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    #3…You must have graduated from ul. Dumbass can’t even spell a 3 letter word as simple as bit. You got close though. Just missed it by 1 letter.



  10. kadizkat
    1:35 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    Another stellar job Duncan! And #3 glad to see UL fans still don’t have anything better to do than hang out on this site. #’lilbrothereffect



  11. Bobbum man
    1:40 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    6- if nothin else throw him on special teams, prolly block some kicks!



  12. Awwww how stupid
    1:42 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    Keep trying #3. If you can somehow get that 67% (rounded up for your benefit) up 3 more points to a 70 you can pass & get your spelling degree from the turdbirds too. I just love LMAO @ dumbasses like you.



  13. Beatle Bum
    1:43 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    The previous staff worked West at center during his RS freshman year. He is not new to the position, even though he has not played center in a game (Matt Smith was pretty darn good). I suspect West will win that job and Eatmon-Nared will hold his position on the line. That will give UK experience in the starting corps and let the RSfr get some experience as backups.



  14. schwing
    1:44 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    straight up out of your mind if you think we play south carolina anywhere within 21 points this year.



  15. Idk
    1:49 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    I went graduated with Davenport and coulda swore he took a greyshirt.



  16. Holy Moly!
    1:50 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    “John Gruenschlaeger 6-11, 350 So., Ft. Thomas, KY (Newport Central Catholic)-walk on”



  17. Idk
    1:58 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    Sorry for the bad grammar ^ at work.



  18. Georgia Blue
    2:02 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    The South Carolina Game was lost right before HALFTIME. We should have led 24-7 instead of 17-7 . Joker and Randy Sanders believed in rollover Timeouts. They let 58 seconds run off before they called Timeout on SC 11 YARD LINE. ITS a lot of games we lost because of COACHING. Our boys are better than what we think and you will see a big differences this year and the years to come. LETS GO CATS



  19. fanfan
    5:53 pm August 1, 2013 Permalink

    whoever 18 is know alittle something. we where a lot better than people think last yr. UK will beat UL by at least 10. our offense will be explosive even tho some think we are short of WR. we have good WR and a lot of TE and RBs that will play in the slot. MUZ TEN VADY MS ST. UL are wins along with AL ST. WKU. MI Ohio. I count 7 to 8 wins. bet on it