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Kentucky Football

Kentucky Football Season Grades: Offense

January 9, 2019

Another season has concluded for your Kentucky football Wildcats and what a season it was. The 2018 season saw Kentucky break the Florida streak, have a winning conference record and win double-digit games in memorable fashion. To make things even better, the roster sported a loveable cast of characters that fans have grown to love over several years. And since football is now nine months away, you surely need something to pass the time. We are going to relive the 2018 season by grading each position group. Feel free to make your case in the comments section whether you agree or disagree.

Quarterback- B-

A straight B is tempting here, as first-year starter Terry Wilson engineered ten wins and came up big in some big moments (i.e. Mizzou and Florida), whilst also finishing 12th in the nation in completion percentage. His running ability created new wrinkles that defenses had to account for. On the other hand, Wilson did only throw for eleven touchdowns against eight interceptions and averaged less than 150 yards passing per game. His tendency to take sacks put Kentucky’s offense in a hole at times. He looked rattled at Texas A&M and the lack of production cost the Cats that game. Overall a very solid sophomore season for Terry Wilson that showed flashes of his immense potential but also reminded fans that he is still a young player.

Behind Wilson, Gunnar Hoak was ready when called upon and didn’t seem to make waves after losing the job. Hoak provided a spark for a struggling offense against Central Michigan but then looked lost against Missouri. It’s hard to judge a guy who comes in cold and has to perform, but Hoak showed he is a capable backup.

Running Backs A+

This isn’t to mean that the backs were perfect, but I can’t bring myself to give Benny Snell anything less. Snell completed his final season as Kentucky’s leader in rushing yards and touchdowns for a career and 3rd all-time in touchdowns in the SEC. As a true junior. He picked up right where he left off as the heart and soul of this offense and the steady rock that coaches could lean on. We may never see another player like him again at Kentucky and people will tell their grandkids that they got to watch Benny Snell pulverize defenses for three sweet years.

Behind Snell, AJ Rose had a long-awaited breakout campaign that gave hope for 2019 when he should have the job all to himself. Rose flashed big-play ability against stout SEC defenses but will also need to improve his vision and pass-blocking to keep Eddie Gran’s offense humming. Freshmen Kavosiey Smoke and Chris Rodriguez both had their moment in garbage time and will battle it out in the offseason to be a power complement to Rose.

Wide Receivers C+

This one is tough because the group was asked to do a lot of blocking with Kentucky riding Snell to victory, but when your second-leading receiver is a former walk-on with 16 catches it’s hard to give top marks. Lynn Bowden almost single-handedly pulls this group up one grade. His breakout season, just his second playing the position, was everything fans had hoped for from the shifty former quarterback. Bowden’s trajectory is pointed straight up.

Outside of Bowden, however, the group struggled to create separation and in some cases to simply catch the ball. It seemed as if the timing was off with Terry Wilson on deep routes. David Bouvier made several notable plays but would disappear for long stretches. Kentucky has to find a second and third receiver this off-season. The question is where will they come from?

Tight Ends A-

Throw it to CJ Conrad. Seemingly that’s all Kentucky fans want. Believe it or not, Eddie Gran did this year. Conrads 30 catches were good for second best on the team by a wide margin. His blocking was superb as always and will be what gets him drafted this spring. Backup Justin Rigg showed that he could stay healthy this year, playing in every game.

Offensive line B+

Mark Stoops built this team in the trenches and the big guys have led the way to three straight bowl games. Early in the season, Kentucky’s offensive line was absolutely dominant against the likes of Mississippi State, Florida, and South Carolina, fueling the Cats hot start to the year. But as the season wore on, chinks started to appear in the armor and the UK running game stalled for a stretch. Kentucky was not used to coming up short on fourth and one in the Benny Snell era, but it happened more than once. Luckily the line was able to get back on track to finish out the last few games of the season.

With Snell on his way out, pass blocking is going to have to improve. Terry Wilson took too many sacks, but there were plenty where he had no time to react and that has to get cleaned up.

Kickers B-

This one is another tough grade, but it feels right given that neither kicker that Kentucky deployed was particularly accurate. Miles Butler was somewhat steady but had limited range and went through a slump mid-season. Chance Poore has the big leg but has to improve his accuracy on what is, admittedly, an extremely small sample size.

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Kentucky Football Season Grades: Offense

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