Tight end C.J. Conrad has been one of Kentucky’s most explosive offensive players this season, thanks to creativity from the Kentucky coaching staff.
Conrad only has nine catches through four games, but eight catches went for more than 20 yards and three were touchdowns. Eddie Gran believes there’s a simple reason why Conrad is starting to click.
“I think him and Stephen have found a little connection — better reads, second year in the offense — I think we had some of those opportunities last year, we just didn’t connect. I think this year, being that there two years together, we’re finding ways.”
Conrad’s success in the passing game started in the run game.
“We help each other a lot,” Benny Snell said. “We’ll keep running it until the linebackers start biting, or we’ll pass and then we start to open the defense up, and then we’ll start running it again. It’s great to have guys like C.J., guys that can block and catch. They’re a great help.”
The play-action pass has arguably been Kentucky’s greatest offensive asset this season.
“Obviously the run game is effecting me in the pass game,” Conrad said, “because we’re hitting me on RPO kind of things, running plays that we ran in the run game, multiple, multiple times and then this time, instead of going and slamming that defensive end, I loop around and get a nice little pass.”
That’s exactly what happened when Conrad scored to take the lead in the third quarter against Florida.
Earlier in the game, Conrad was in a three-point stance, covered as an ineligible receiver by three wide receivers. When Conrad stepped off the line to become an eligible receiver, the Florida linebackers did not notice. He was uncovered for the touchdown.
Kentucky’s ability to keep defenses guessing has put them in a bind. “You can never guess what we’re going to do. We got something else that you’ll never see coming,” Snell said.
They may not know what’s coming, but they’ll probably see more of Conrad in the future. Tight ends coach Vince Marrow said they scheme three to four passes his way prior to every game, but that will likely increase in the future.
“I know this, the kid makes plays when the ball is thrown to him,” Marrow said. “He will be more a part of the offense, trust me.”