Perhaps the best way to describe the 2019 Kentucky Wildcats is banged up.
Mark Stoops and his staff have had to make do without several key players such as starting quarterback Terry Wilson and defensive back Davonte Robinson who were lost for the season. In addition, other injuries have kept players such as quarterback Sawyer Smith, Phil Hoskins, and Isaiah Epps week to week, and other players have played banged up.
At his weekly press conference, Stoops said the latest group to catch the injury bug are outside linebackers Josh Paschal and Jordan Wright. That means we could see Louisville natives Jared Casey and J.J. Weaver make their debuts this week.
“Our outside linebacker position with Josh and Jordan, they’re both getting a little bit dinged up.” So might have to bring along maybe JJ and Jared here this week, bring those guys and get them some reps.”
Casey and Weaver are both true freshmen who were rated as four-star prospects out of high school. Neither has seen game action yet this season, but Stoops thinks that might change when his team takes on the Missouri Tigers Saturday night.
“They both have some really good talent and, you know, just like most freshmen, I think they probably get a little discouraged because they feel like they’re not playing so the consistency isn’t there or the urgency in practice all the time,” said Stoops.
“But you see the flashes of it and the ability, so we have to continue to, with young people, too, you can’t take away their hope. They got to have some hope. And that’s where with this rule and the ability to play in four games I think helps them down the stretch. And we need them because we’re starting to get banged up.
“So I’ve seen them do some really good things but I also see them be inconsistent at times like most freshmen.”
Both players were expected to redshirt, and thankfully, they can appear in four games and still keep said redshirts. So Kentucky may opt to play them this week, then get another bye week in Week 10, allowing Paschal and Wright to heal up and be ready to roll vs. Tennessee in Week 11.
That would leave Weaver and Casey with three more games left to play. While one of them could ideally be a bowl game, getting to the postseason is no guarantee, so it’s more likely those three games would come in the four-game stretch vs. Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, vs. UT-Martin and vs. Louisville.
While there haven’t been any reports on potential impatience with Casey, there have been some that Weaver could be seeking a potential transfer to his hometown Louisville Cardinals. Though his mother was quick to deny those rumors.
If those rumors did have any truth to them, getting Weaver on the field shut help shut those down as he will have the opportunity to play himself into Kentucky’s defensive rotation.
With guys banged up and a bowl game on the line, it should be interesting to see if Casey and Weaver can help guide the Wildcats to three more victories.