I know there is a lot of consternation following the loss to Mississippi State on Saturday. The play calling was suspect. The defense gave up too many yards. Some dude named Cobb apparently should have gotten the ball more. All valid points, but what I feel is sorely missing from this UK team is consistent play from the tight end position.
Over the past 10+ years, UK has had James Whalen (drafted), Chase Harp, Jeremiah Drobney, and Jacob Tamme (drafted) to rely on as the safety valve for the quarterback. That is a stellar run of productive, athletic players that UK could turn to whenever things started getting crazy. A good tight end is invaluable to a QB (just ask Peyton Manning about Dallas Clark) and is particularly important for a young signal caller that is learning the position.
This year, the staff knew the tight end position was going to be suspect. Joker has slotted John Conner into the position on occasion and went on record stating that Conner was playing better than any of his tight ends. As Morgan Newton was making the last drive to save Saturday’s game, T. C. Drake highlighted just how important his position is with two great catches to get UK to the Mississippi State 16 yard line. Those were the senior’s first two receptions of the game. I can’t help but think that one of those six plays at the MSU goal line at the start of the fourth quarter should have involved a pass to a tight end. It feels like just the sort of play that Jacob Tamme would execute to perfection.
There was a lot that went wrong this past Saturday, but the lackluster production from the tight end position seems to have finally caught up to the Wildcats. In a close, must-win game that hinged on two or three plays it is unfortunate that UK coaches aren’t confident enough in their tight ends to get them more involved.