Back in November, the Kentucky offensive line unit was recognized as one of the best in the country, as the Joe Moore Award has announced the Wildcats as one of 10 semifinalists for the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit.
At the time, the selection committee had high praise for John Schlarman’s group:
“You can tell this is a coachable bunch. They all do a very good job of working their feet into position to get blocks sealed and hand placement has clearly been drilled into them because they are good at it.”
Today, though, the four finalists for the award were announced, and Kentucky was not included.
Instead, two other SEC units – Alabama and LSU – along with Ohio State and Oregon, served as the final contenders for the prestigious award.
The Joe Moore Award for the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in College Football today revealed the selection of four finalists for this year’s national honor (alphabetical order) #13 @AlabamaFTBL, #1 @LSUfootball, #2 @OhioStateFB, #6 @oregonfootballhttps://t.co/XeoSkOYK6h
— The Joe Moore Award (@JoeMooreAward) December 10, 2019
The UK offensive line boasts three returning starters in junior center Drake Jackson, senior left guard Logan Stenberg and redshirt junior left tackle Landon Young. Also seeing action is senior Mason Wolfe, junior Luke Fortner, sophomores Austin Dotson, Darian Kinnard and Naasir Watkins, along with redshirt freshmen Kenneth Horsey, Nick Lewis and Quintin Wilson.
The offensive line has helped UK put together its fourth consecutive season of 2,000 or more rushing yards. The Wildcats have done this despite missing three departed starting linemen from a year ago, the school’s all-time leading rusher from last season, and this year’s top three quarterbacks are all injured – two are out for the season – and the starting QB is a converted wide receiver.
Four players have rushed for more than 500 yards this season: running back A.J. Rose, quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr., running back Kavosiey Smoke and running back Christopher Rodriguez Jr., including three with over 600 yards (Bowden, Rose, Smoke). Kentucky’s running game is averaging 274.4 yards per game, which leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally.
Comparing Kentucky to the other finalists – as pointed out by Rivals’ Jeff Drummond on Twitter – in the categories of rushing yards per carry and sacks allowed, here is how the numbers stack up:
- Kentucky: 6.4 YPC, 16 sacks allowed
- Alabama: 5.0 YPC, 12 sacks allowed
- LSU: 4.9 YPC, 29 sacks allowed
- OSU: 5.7 YPC, 31 sacks allowed
- Oregon: 5.0 YPC, 23 sacks allowed
According to the official press release, “the Joe Moore Award voting committee judges solely on the following six criteria, which represent the collective benchmarks for the O-line position as determined by the committee and its combined 800+ years of playing and coaching experience: Toughness, Effort, Teamwork, Consistency, Technique, and Finishing.
“Evaluations for the finalists were made through weekly review of actual game film and offensive line coach-provided highlights and cut-ups on the DragonFly Division I Network. In addition, Stats Perform, the industry’s leader in sports data analytics, provides advanced O-line data and analytics to give context and clarity, and to help streamline the film evaluation process.”