John Clay

Kentucky football smart to go deep, plus more random notes

Kentuck offensive line coach John Schlarman spoke to media on football signing day at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 1, 2017. Schlarman is mixing and matching combinations for UK’s line heading into the 2017 season.
Kentuck offensive line coach John Schlarman spoke to media on football signing day at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 1, 2017. Schlarman is mixing and matching combinations for UK’s line heading into the 2017 season. palcala@herald-leader.com

Random notes:

▪  Back at the end of Bill Curry’s unsuccessful tenure (1990-96) as Kentucky’s football coach, offensive coordinator Elliot Uzelac believed in playing just five offensive linemen for an entire season so that the unit could build cohesion and consistency.

Uzelac wasn’t much of a coordinator — he had Tim Couch running the option — but he was a terrific line coach. His philosophy had merit. His first season, incorporating a two-tight end, one-back set, Moe Williams rushed for more than 1,600 yards. His second and final season, UK’s Derek Logan rushed for 700 yards.

Thank goodness current offensive line coach John Schlarman, who played for Uzelac, didn’t employ that strategy last season. The Cats went out of their way to build depth in 2016, mixing and matching players along the offensive front, using different combinations in practices and in games.

That should pay off this season. With Jon Toth having graduated at center and guard Nick Haynes dealing with a weight loss issue caused by diabetes, Schlarman has options, with experience, he can turn to for playing time.

One example: Junior guard George Asafo-Adjei, whom the coaches say is having his best camp since coming to Kentucky. Asafo-Adjei can play either guard or tackle. In last Saturday’s open practice, he filled in for Haynes at the right guard spot, one occupied by Bunchy Stallings last season.

Stallings figures to be UK’s starting center this year. Logan Stenberg, a promising sophomore, figures to start at left guard. Landon Young, who got his feet wet as a true freshman, could start at left tackle, where Cole Mosier also figures into the mix. Kyle Meadows returns at right tackle, where Asafo-Adjei can also play. And Schlarman says he’s been happy with sophomore Mason Wolfe, who can play all across the line.

In other words, there is safety in numbers.

▪  On the other side of the line, the name to watch is true freshman defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna. On Wednesday, defensive coordinator Matt House said the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder from Cordova, Tenn., “attacks every rep.” When spoken by a DC, that’s a high compliment.

▪  UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen raised some eyebrows this week by telling Bleacher Report that playing college football and being a college student do not mix. “It’s like having two full-time jobs.” Here’s the thing: I think most college athletes would say Rosen is right.

▪  Reds No. 1 draft pick, No. 2 overall, Hunter Greene went 1-for-4 with a two-run triple in his pro debut Tuesday night.

▪  SEC Network analyst Chris Doering on Kentucky: “I think this is a team that can win nine games because of their schedule, because of their depth of talent.”

I think this is a team that can win nine games because of their schedule, because of their depth of talent.

SEC Network analyst Chris Doering on Kentucky

▪  Ex-Kentucky basketball target John Petty scored 22 points in Alabama’s 96-57 win over Magill University in the first game of the Crimson Tide’s exhibition tour in Canada. Petty should be an SEC force next season.

▪  Ex-Kentucky quarterback Reese Phillips is the No. 1 quarterback as Montana starts its fall camp. After sitting out 2015 as a transfer, the Chattanooga native played in four games last season, completing eight of 15 passes.

▪  Would an NFL team please sign Colin Kaepernick so we don’t have to read or hear anymore Kaepernick stories.

▪  If you missed it, David Letterman was at Great American Ball Park over the weekend. He came equipped with a great line, saying that for someone his age (70), who has had open heart surgery, “baseball was just the right amount of excitement.”

▪  First year under Tubby Smith, Memphis’ attendance hit a 35-year low last season.

▪  Steve Spurrier speaking at the Independence Bowl Kickoff Luncheon: “You can have good ball players and still not win football games — all you LSU fans know about that.”

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