By LARRY VAUGHT
Going into the season Kentucky’s offensive line was supposed to be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.
It didn’t look that way in a loss at Florida. It didn’t have great success at Alabama, but who does.
However, during the last four SEC games, Kentucky has pounded teams with its running game thanks to the UK offensive line.
“We knew we had good players and you are starting to see quite a few of those guys have a lot of game experience. They have grown up well. And not all of them, we are mixing in some redshirt freshmen and mixing in some true freshmen. It is easier to do when you have other experienced quality players around them,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“It is nice to see that rotation right now. It keeps those guys healthy and keeps them healthy down the stretch. They are playing extremely physical. That group is playing selfless, they come to the sidelines and sit there and talk to each other and make adjustments.
“They talk about the things they are seeing and ways to improve and adjustments to be made. That really can be said about all of our position groups. Our team has played that way.”
Stoops knows offensive and defensive line play win games in the SEC.
“You are starting to see our defensive line do some good things, I am very proud of them. I was very proud of their effort on Saturday (at Missouri). We talked about getting a rotation going, we talked about developing depth, we talked about while they are in the game playing extremely hard and playing passionate because with a tempo (offense) sometimes you have a tendency to not always get alignment and execute your technique because you are playing so many plays,” Stoops said.
“We challenged them all week that whoever was in the game was going to play extremely hard and extremely fast and if they were tired they were going to come out and the next guy was going to go in. You are starting to see some depth there as well.”
Stoops credits senior center Jon Toth for leadership that has brought the offensive line together at a time when UK needed it most.
“The rest of those guys are smart and good football players and they’re only going to get better. That’s a beautiful thing,” Stoops said.
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran says Georgia’s defense will challenge UK’s running game.
“They’re big, they’re fast, they’re talented, they understand what gaps to fill, they’re hard to move. And they understand schemes and where to go,” Gran said. “They know how to two gap, and block down and play off blocks. So, it’s going to be a huge challenge for us. I’m really excited about it for Saturday.”