It’s a somewhat slow Friday afternoon in sports (which honestly feels a little eerie given the chaos of this week), so let’s take a moment and give some praise to a unit of the Kentucky Football team that can never get enough: the Big Blue Wall. This morning, Pro Football Focus’ Brent Rollins tweeted this impressive stat about the Cats’ offensive line, which includes four of the SEC’s top returning linemen.
Darian Kinnard, UK – 89.2
Jamaree Salyer, UGA – 81.3
Trey Smith, UT – 78.6
Landon Young, UK – 78.3
Drake Jackson, UK – 78.0
Ben Cleveland, UGA – 77.4
Luke Fortner, UK – 77.0@PFF_College
— Brent Rollins (@PFF_Brent) August 14, 2020
I think that’s good, right? So far this preseason, Jackson (center) and Kinnard (right tackle) have pulled in the accolades. Both were named Second Team All-American on offense by Athlon Sports; First Team All-SEC by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports; and to the watch list for the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top interior lineman. Jackson has a team-high 33 consecutive starts, while Kinnard started all 13 games last season, finishing with 32 knockdowns and just one penalty in 706 snaps. Add in Landon Young, who only had one missed assignment in 754 plays, and Luke Fortner, who totaled 27 knockdown blocks, and Nassir Watkins, Austin Dotson, Kenneth Horsey, and Quintin Wilson, and you’ve got the best offensive line in the SEC.
Last year, the Big Blue Wall helped Kentucky put together its fourth consecutive season of 2,000 or more rushing yards despite losing three starting linemen, the school’s all-time leading rusher in Benny Snell, and three quarterbacks to injury. With the offensive line’s help, Lynn Bowden stepped in at QB and set all sorts of records, including the most rushing yards by a quarterback in school history (1,369 over eight games) and the SEC’s single-game rushing mark by a quarterback (284 vs. Louisville). Last season, Kentucky’s rushers averaged three yards BEFORE contact, the highest in Power 5 football. That’s insane.
Big Blue Wall, we appreciate you.