While Kentucky’s biggest star for the 2019 football season was wide-receiver-turned-quarterback Lynn Bowden, the team’s success wasn’t totally reliant upon the junior’s shoulders. In fact, the numbers say Kentucky’s play on both the offensive and defensive line aided the team more than any skill position could have. Of course, Bowden’s electrifying play-making ability won Kentucky many games they had no business in winning after losing starting quarterback Terry Wilson early in the year. However, Bowden enjoyed the benefit of running behind one of the best run-blocking offensive lines Kentucky has ever put on the field.
Per NCAA.com, Kentucky ranked in the top-20 for the following categories during the 2019-2020 season: 4th in rushing, 13th in tackles-for-loss allowed, 15th in sacks allowed, 20th in time of possession. That of course didn’t just happen for Kentucky last season. Instead, head coach Mark Stoops and his staff recruited and developed multiple offensive linemen to what their strength as a team is: a down-hill rushing attack. Unlike pass blocking, offensive linemen love nothing more than to run the ball down the opponent’s throat.
On the defensive side of the trenches, Kentucky has also developed multiple players to be productive in their system. Last year, the Wildcats ranked 2nd in passing yards allowed, 8th in fourth down prevention, 14th in scoring defense, 16th in fumbles recovered and 19th in first down defense. While being a top-tier of pass defense may not seem relative to play in the trenches, you may want to think again. Kentucky had one of the youngest secondaries in the SEC last season and their front-seven played a significant role in getting to the opposing quarterback quickly.
Kentucky will of course lose a few key pieces on both their offensive and defensive lines this spring to the NFL as well as graduation. However, they’re set to bring in a handful of talented freshman that could very well make a more immediate impact than most might expect. And even if they don’t, Kentucky has proven time and time again they have what it takes to coach up recruits through a winning, team-first culture.
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