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GM for a Day: Predicting 2016’s Offensive Starters

Dale Zanine | USA Today

Dale Zanine | USA Today

Dale Zanine | USA Today

As Nick Roush and I start our friendly competition of predicting the 2016 opening day starting lineup, the decision was made to give my young counterpart a bit of a head start. As we dive into the offense, my role is to play the Devil’s Advocate per say. Being somewhat competitive, we’ll see who is more accurate come September 3rd.  The only rule?  We can only use “or” twice for each side of the line of scrimmage.

Keeping in mind that across the board upgrades are imperative. UK finished 2015 ranked 10th in the SEC by averaging 24.7 points per game, 12th in Pass Efficiency with a 108.31 rating, and allowed 30 QB Sacks along with 84 Tackles for Loss. With a new offensive coordinator, quarterback and receiver coach, positive changes are not only expected but demanded.

Kentucky’s Week One Projected Offensive Starters 

Quarterback

  • Freddie: Drew Barker
  • Nick: Drew Barker

Running Back

  • Freddie: Boom Williams
  • Nick: Boom Williams

Tight End

  • Freddie: C.J. Conrad
  • Nick: C.J. Conrad

Outside Receiver

  • Freddie: Dorian Baker
  • Nick: Dorian Baker

Slot Receiver

  • Freddie: Garrett “Juice” Johnson
  • Nick: Garrett “Juice” Johnson

Inside Receiver

  • Freddie: Tavin Richardson OR Jeff Badet
  • Nick: Tavin Richardson OR Charles Walker

Outside Receiver

  • Freddie: Blake Bone OR Jabari Greenwood
  • Nick: Blake Bone

Left Tackle

  • Freddie: Tate Leavitt
  • Nick: Tate Leavitt

Left Guard

  • Freddie: George Asafo-Adjei
  • Nick: Ramsey Meyers OR Drake Jackson

Center

  • Freddie: Drake Jackson
  • Nick: Jon Toth

Right Guard

  • Freddie: Jon Toth
  • Nick: George Asafo-Adjei

Right Tackle

  • Freddie: Landon Young
  • Nick: Landon Young

Nick Explains

The offensive line is the biggest question mark for the offense.  Luckily, Landon Young is the only person in the mix that won’t be there for Spring Practice.  Most on the offensive line practice at a variety of positions.  Jon Schlarman’s job is to see which unit has the most continuity.  If they live in a perfect world, I think you’ll see the five I presented in Week One.

Even though the receiver starters can be difficult to discern, the way they rotate probably matters less than any other position.  Even though C.J. Conrad will be the hands down #1, I believe he’ll be used in so many different ways that we’ll see a lot of Greg Hart or Darryl Long.  Also, Boom Williams’ spot as the #1 running back isn’t as solid as you might think.  Eddie Gran is no nonsense and will play whoever is putting in the work, and I believe the Senior leader — Jojo Kemp — will become an early favorite for the new OC.

How UK's offensive line will look in Week One primarily depends on how Schlarman uses his two incoming All-Americans.

How UK’s offensive line will look in Week One primarily depends on how Schlarman uses his two incoming All-Americans.

Freddie Explains

Noticeable offensive line alterations are projective by nature and not based on the overplayed word, “source.” With the goal of putting the best eleven on the field, Drake Jackson and Landon Young may possibly be too good to have on the bench or wearing the standard redshirt that is normally reserved for freshman OL. Controversially, moving Jon Toth to guard could enhance his NFL Draft stock as well as provide Drake Jackson an on-the-job, field coach in his transition from high school to college football. Additionally, with the above lineup, seasoned guards would play alongside first year players at tackle. Contrariwise, Jackson could also play guard as Toth remains at center. However it shakes out, keep an eye on offensive line depth chart in the spring and through mid-fall camp.

I could have easily placed Tavin Richardson and Blake Bone in the starting receiver rotation. Expect this foursome to fluidly rotate due to production, situation, and attitude. As for Drew Barker, he gets the nod solely based on game experience and the fact that at the time of this post, Stephen Johnson’s weight or lack thereof is concerning. With three scholarship quarterbacks currently on campus, there will be a true quarterback competition. Spring practice offensive schematic installation makes it an even playing field. Regardless of Barker, Johnson, or Hoak; evident quarterback improvement and heightened consistency are mandatory.

After watching hours of 2015 film, periphery factors influenced perceived individual quarterback and collective offensive line deficiencies. In review, scheme — more so than lack of development — played major roles as Kentucky saw a 4.7 points per game decline. To simplify, offensively UK lacked identity and “buy in.” Player placement was ill-advised, putting them in precarious situations that did not fit current personnel level or suitable game management focus (Please remember 1st down lost yardage plays).  Thus, I foresee a distinct improvement in most statistical categories. More importantly, a similar upward trajectory will translate to higher unit morale.

And as always, remember it’s personnel, not personal.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

3 Comments for GM for a Day: Predicting 2016’s Offensive Starters



  1. LongTimeReader
    9:17 am February 18, 2016 Permalink

    I enjoy these way too earlier predictions for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason is because we get to talk about football in February! A lot of moving parts on this side of the ball, both on the field and off. From a WR there are two guys that would put as starters, “Juice” and Charles Walker. “Juice” has the big play ability and has been consistent enough over the last two years. Coach Thomas will have to find away to get the attention of Baker, because even though he is very talented, he can prove to be a liability at that position as well. I would start Charles Walker at the inside WR spot, because at that position you need a guy who can make the tough catches across the middle and do the “dirty” work as a WR, and he is the guy that has proven to make key receptions and consistent enough for the defense to make sure he’s accounted for.

    The OL will be interesting to see how they develop. While they have some very highly rated players coming in, it is difficult to expect them to be SEC ready in their first year. Tate will have to play because of necessity, but will take his lumps especially when SEC play gets into full swing. The staff has to redshirt one of the two in Drake and Landon. I would redshirt Landon, but that all depends on the development of the returning players. Depending on the responsibility the new OC places upon the Center, will determine which spot Drake could potentially start in come September. If the QB is able to take much of the pressure off of the Center, Drake could start at Center and bump Toth out to guard. But if the communication is too much for a first year player, Toth stays at Center and Drake goes to Guard.

    I’m pretty excited to see what this side of the ball can do because there are some talented players to can put pressure on opposing defensives on all levels.



  2. Kat 308
    11:13 am February 18, 2016 Permalink

    I love it, and I am already ready for some football!!!



  3. tippytoe
    3:06 pm February 18, 2016 Permalink

    Please, Freddie and Nick, tell me your kidding about Dorian Baker!!!