UK football notes: Phillips pleased with depth at tight end

jsmith3@herald-leader.comApril 21, 2012 

Kentucky had a deep stable of tight ends last season.

The position went five deep early in the fall, but the Cats never got as much production from the position as they wanted.

That could change this fall, especially if the Blue-White scrimmage is any indication.

Four tight ends combined for 165 yards on 13 catches at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night.

Anthony Kendrick, playing for the backups, had 40 yards and a touchdown in the final 30 seconds of the game. Tyler Robinson had five catches for 75 yards.

"They really help stretch the field," quarterback Maxwell Smith said of the tight ends. "I love throwing to tight ends because they're big targets. They can beat linebackers one on one and they played well for us today."

They definitely caught the eye of Coach Joker Phillips.

"I'm really pleased with our tight ends right now," he said. "We didn't put them in situations where they had to block as much today. We feel like we've got a good combination of guys. (Robinson) could be our good, physical, on-the-line tight end. We think (Kendrick) and Ronnie (Shields) could be our 'move' tight ends, guys who can stretch the field."

Punting problem?

The punting this spring was so bad, UK opted not to bring out the punting unit during the game.

Phillips said last week that junior Joe Mansour and redshirt freshman Jay Wilmott had been "disappointing."

"We've got to find a punter," Phillips said. "He might have been in this building today. We said he wasn't on campus yet (last week), but he might have been on campus today."

Phillips was referring to incoming freshman Landon Foster, an All-State punter from Tennessee.

Offensive line issues

Kentucky lost the bulk of its offensive line to graduation, including tackles Chandler Burden and Billy Joe Murphy and guard Stuart Hines.

Those losses were evident Saturday night. UK's first-team offensive line played well, giving up just one sack, but the backups allowed seven for 35 yards.

When asked where the depth would come from, Phillips quipped: "Well hopefully we don't need it; we play with five all year. But you and I both know that doesn't happen."

He noted that many of the linemen are interchangeable and that the Cats aren't looking to go 10-deep, but they're definitely looking for more than they have now.

"Eight's a good number that you'd like to have," he said, again referencing potential help from incoming freshmen.

Not a packed house

The announced crowd of 4,500 at Commonwealth Stadium was 500 more than last season. Phillips was grateful they came out, especially given the 48-degree temperature at kickoff.

"This is the worst day we've had this spring," he said. "A couple of guys were saying this was the winter game, and it was. It was a little chilly out, but I appreciate the fans who came out."

Injury report

Cornerback Cartier Rice sustained a bruised thigh in the game but was fine. Senior wide receiver LaRod King didn't play after spraining his knee in practice.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com, ukwomen.bloginky.com

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