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Expect the Tight Ends to be More Involved in the Passing Game this Season

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Kentucky’s tight ends might actually play a much bigger role in the passing game headed into 2019.

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Now I know what you all are probably thinking, “yeah, yeah. Same ole, same old. Copy and paste from the last three seasons”, but I really believe there’s a chance for guys like Justin Rigg and Keaton Upshaw to get much more involved in this year’s passing game.

As fans, we always wanted to see the ball get into the hands of CJ Conrad after seeing how great he was at tight end, but in hindsight, with a generational running back in Benny Snell and Conrad’s ability to block, it makes sense that he wasn’t used in the passing game as much as we hoped.

In a year where AJ Rose can be effective as a receiving back, the coaches believe Terry Wilson will throw the ball 40 times a game, and with Lynn Bowden being the only receiver with significant playing time; there’s going to be no choice but to use the tight ends more often in this year’s offense.

That seems to be just what the doctor ordered for Terry Wilson as well.

After the first scrimmage on Saturday, Stoops had high praise for the involvement of Rigg and Upshaw into the passing game, even expressing how much comfort that brings Terry Wilson going into year two.

“Justin Rigg and Keaton Upshaw, they did some good things,” Stoops said. “We hit them over the middle a few times, they’re big targets. They really make good adjustments to the ball, I think we need to continue to build on that. That’s good for Terry to have that comfort zone for targets like that and to be able to throw some guys and throw them open a little bit.”

Jordan Griffin even had a small comment after yesterday’s scrimmage about the involvement of the tight ends yesterday, saying they were indeed being used a lot more. However, he didn’t say their involvement was a big part of the secondary’s sluggish performance on Saturday, it surely couldn’t have helped.

Justin Rigg has received high praise for his receiving ability, some even say he’s a better pass catcher than Conrad. If Rigg can get vertical, that adds a whole other dimension for the Kentucky offense this season.

Though I wasn’t able to get my phone out in time, I overheard Rigg say he believes he is a part of the best Tight End group in the country. While that may be music to Vince Marrow’s ears, they must be more involved this year in the passing game to prove it.

Article written by Brent Wainscott

Twitter: @BrentWainscott_

12 Comments for Expect the Tight Ends to be More Involved in the Passing Game this Season



  1. MontyCats
    12:13 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    2 games into the season Terry’s extreme limitations will be apparent and we will go back to running the ball all the time. That’s the most predictable part of this season.



    • kjd
      12:36 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

      Didn’t see anything more than wishful thinking in your article. Our TEs are just as inexperienced as our WRs. We didn’t utilize CJ in the passing game. You can’t simply ignore past trends.
      To be successful this year, we definitely need an improved passing game. I hope we see it.



    • kjd
      12:39 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

      Quite possible.
      Coaches were scared of TOs last season with a stout defense. With a now unproven defense, the coaches will be totally terrified of TOs.



  2. WKY Cat
    12:17 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    I’ll believe it when I see it.



  3. ClutchCargo
    12:23 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    The TE involvement in the passing game is the basketball full court press of football for UK fans. People get worked up about the dumbest things.



  4. ScoggDog
    1:05 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    I think it can happen. Here’s why.

    Play calling was effective, and the team moved up and down the field, until the second half against SC. Something changed during that halftime, with Kentucky up big. That’s when the offense got throttled back – and it stayed that way most of the rest of the year.

    Play calling also got aggressive after that game, whenever Kentucky found themselves down. Then the willingness to accept risk got greater – because it had to, I think.

    So – if Wilson shows that he can hold onto the football while running, and just throw incompletes rather than interceptions, I do think the offense opens up.

    And I think Gran does know how to use some of his sets with more than one TE, without going as bland as a seven-man line. I’ve seen him put a TE in the slot, a TE in the backfield. He can do it. I think he might have to, given the depth at WR.

    But believe me – I understand the skepticism. Most of my comments never make the live blog for a reason.



  5. Tango98
    1:17 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times, Fire Stoops! Kidding!!! But seriously, I’ll believe it when i see it. Go Cats!



  6. runningunnin.454
    1:37 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    Yep, that’s an old joke; and, we’ve heard it before. For a couple of years, I actually thought we didn’t know we could throw to the TE.
    I would be happy if, with a lead in the 2nd half of the 3rd quarter, we would continue to mix it up; little 6-8 yard passes would be better than running into the line three times, punting, and only killing 45 seconds off the clock. We could stay ahead of the chains, and kill clock by keeping possession.



  7. ArmyCatFan
    2:39 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    Mizzu and Iowa both have proven if you have 2 athletic and pass catching tight ends, it’s hard to stop. I’m excited to see it.



  8. east-ky-boy
    11:54 pm August 11, 2019 Permalink

    You said stop you so…..stop!



  9. JASUN74
    7:01 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    For all the “ I’ll believe it when I see it” folks, I don’t understand how you don’t understand we had a once in a lifetime Running Back named Benny Snell!! It’s not that hard to see that he ran what he did because it was the best play!! If you’re out of kindergarten, The objective of playing Football, or any other sport is to WIN THE GAME!! We won 10 out of 13 that we played by using the once in a lifetime Benny Snell!

    Now this year we’ll not have Benny Snell and we’ll do things differently. So believing when you see will only be a couple weeks away. Go watch Eddie Grans teams at Cincinnati and come on back and discuss with us. Football is a hard game. To win A SEC Football GAME is something that Only very few Humans in the world can do.

    I know I’m sounding like a butt hole. Lol. I’m sorry about that to, but my goodness, do you know how hard those guys work, the practices, injuries, sweat and time and then getting a couple hundred people on board with your vision to actually win?? The odds of that happening, It’s almost impossible.

    I’m all in and 100% behind Coach Stoops and this staff, and if they run every play, so be it, but this year we have a second year SEC starting Quarterback and some great players around him. Our tight ends will quadruple their catches this year.

    As long as we’re being competitive and playing smart Football is really all we should be concerned with, Not if a certain player gets enough catches for his numbers!!

    Trust in this Staff!! I’m telling you, they know how to win, and whatever style we need to do that is the way we will play. I hope I didn’t sound harsh and I know you all are some smart sons of guns, I just wanted to put that out there. GO CATS



  10. Paw
    12:51 pm August 13, 2019 Permalink

    Justin Rigg is our go to guy !! Throw him the ball !! Record Breaking Season!!