Kentucky will be without one of its top offensive weapons for the season finale Saturday against Louisville and for its bowl game.
Junior tight end C.J. Conrad, who was hurt during the Georgia game, will have surgery Tuesday morning for what Coach Mark Stoops described as a mid-foot injury.
“Unfortunately, C.J. will be out for the remainder of the year,” Stoops said of the tight end who is the team’s third-leading pass catcher this season, with 286 yards and four touchdowns on 16 receptions.
Last season against Louisville, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Conrad had one catch for 17 yards.
UK’s tight ends coach, Vince Marrow, tweeted that he hurt for Conrad.
“Feel bad for my boy,” Marrow posted. “True warrior. One of the best TE’s in the country.”
That position will be hobbled at best against the Cardinals. Stoops said Justin Rigg injured an ankle against Georgia and is in a walking boot. Rigg has one catch this season for six yards.
The No. 2 tight end on the depth chart, senior Greg Hart, played with a cast on one wrist for two or three weeks.
“And the last couple weeks the other wrist has been in a cast during practice,” Stoops said of Hart, who has 25 yards and a touchdown on three catches this season. “So, hopefully he’ll be healthy this week.”
The head coach also ended speculation before the Georgia game that offensive lineman Nick Haynes might make the move to tight end when he had a jersey number switch to No. 89.
“We tried it just a little bit for field goal and a few certain things, but we’ll move him back inside,” Stoops said of Haynes, who has been limited this season because of dramatic weight loss caused by diabetes.
Haynes has been a captain for every game this season despite his limited playing time.
“He just deserves that,” Stoops said of the senior, who started six games early this season. “I think that’s who he is. He’s done a lot for this program. He’s sacrificed a lot, and he’s not at 100 percent health, but he’s still a very good leader and a captain.”
Other news and notes
Several other UK players were banged up Saturday in the Georgia game, but it doesn’t sound as if any will be sidelined for this weekend’s game at Kroger Field.
Safety Mike Edwards, who suffered a painful hip pointer early, will be fine, Stoops said.
Starting nose guard Quinton Bohanna “should be good” coming back from an ankle injury, with Stoops saying that it was a normal ankle sprain and not a high ankle sprain, which can sideline players for weeks.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson was sacked three times against the Bulldogs, including one play when he was thrown to the ground. Stoops said the senior would be fine.
“He’s like Gumby,” Stoops said, smiling. “He’s good. He’s good.”
▪ Kentucky will honor 25 players before the game for its annual Senior Day tradition, including a few juniors including linebacker Jordan Bonner, whose career will end a season early because of medical problems, Stoops said.
Other juniors on the UK list include offensive tackle David Baumer, long snapper Logan Blue, linebacker Spencer Foy, wide receiver Ryan Kendall and quarterback Luke Wright.
▪ It seems as if several UK players will get the difficult job of simulating Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson this week as UK tries to prepare for the Heisman Trophy winner. For speed purposes, UK might turn to special teams player extraordinaire Charles Moushey and defensive back Zy’Aire Hughes.
“Zy’Aire did that last year as well, but he’s not been 100 percent healthy last week,” Stoops said. “I’m not sure where he’ll be right now.”
Many fans will get some time off this week for Thanksgiving, but it’s mostly a normal game-week schedule for Kentucky’s coaches and players, Stoops said.
On Wednesday, the players go to their position coaches’ houses and have Thanksgiving dinner with them and their families. Then, after an earlier-than-normal practice Thursday, the team and coaches will have a Thanksgiving dinner together.
“Then they can go home and sleep it off, or they can go back to one of their coaches’ houses and eat again,” Stoops said, laughing. “Good news is we come back Friday and have a run-through so we can run some of that off.”
Louisville at Kentucky
Noon Saturday (SEC)