I recall reading a tale about former Kentucky center Jason Watts, I believe in Dave Baker’s stirring biography of a then 21 year-old Tim Couch, about how he used to tuck a wad of Beechnut in his cheek during games and occasionally offer up a facemask full of runoff to opposing linemen. Now, I’m not advocating spitting on others–it is one of the few things in life that warrants swift and unrelenting justice–but I think this Kentucky offensive line needs a hearty boost of some Watts-like ‘nasty’.
This isn’t to say the Kentucky offensive line has been particularly bad this season. They’ve only surrendered three sacks and Hartline appears comfortable in the pocket for the most part. But the running game has been glaringly stagnant thus far, which can be attributed to a myriad of factors, but the lack of push from the O-line is blatant. Granted, the season is only 3 weeks old, but the worst is yet to come from the other side of the ball, and blocking aint gettin’ any easier.
Prior to the season, Brooks called this his best offensive line he’s had at UK. And he’s right…on paper, anyway. But you can’t quantify ‘nais-ty’. It has to come from within. It probably starts somewhere in the depths of the intestines and eventually works its way into the heart, and before too long, the brain. Now you’ve got a nasty-feeling, nasty-thinking individual ready to bar no holds to ensure you do not reach his quarterback and that you will not come out of this pile without at least a dead leg and/or a diminished view of your own sister.
It’s the trenches; a furrow of violence, grime, girth, unmistakable stench and unthinkable ruse. It also happens to be the vital frontline on the path to victory. You can line up the biggest and strongest corn-fed hog mollies this side of the Mississip’, but if they’re even the slightest bit timid or faint-hearted, they’re beat. Seriously, have you studied an LSU or Auburn defensive line lately? Big, fast, strong, meaner than hell and thirsty for the backfield. The prototypical offensive lineman has shifted slightly from the lose-a-meatball-in-a-fat-roll-only-to-find-it-a-couple-days-later-and-cram-it-in-your-mouth-Billy Bob-variety, to a quicker, more athletic brand of blocker, but sheer naisty-ness remains a constant requisite.
The Phil Fulmer’s of the world can have their 6’6” 340lb 5 flat 40 behemoths; give me a Jason Leger. A Rockcastle farm boy who’d just assume play football in Carhartt bibs and Red Wings and doesn’t give a flying f*#@ who he’s lined up against; whomever it is, they’re probably easier to corral then one of the rowdy weanlings back home. Leger was a vastly undersized o-lineman by SEC standards and ran a hurricane-aided 5.0 40 yard dash, but damn it if he wasn’t a tough sumbitch and perhaps our most reliable blocker last season. The Jason Leger’s of the world might not necessarily be all-SEC, and they just might get out-‘athleticized’ every now and then, but they’re fearless, hungry for contact (and ribs) and do not relent until the whistle has blown. Nasty like this, not this.
Let’s hope this unit digs deep and sets their inner-nasty free. Perhaps they can channel the nasty of great nasty’s before them: John Schlarman, Chris Komstock, Leger and McCutchan. And if it takes a chaw of Beechnut to free up these speed backs, then by gum, get to chewin’ boys!