Darian Kinnard confident in Kentucky through five games


AP Photo | Michael Clubb

Barkley Truax

“We’re not the best,” Kentucky offensive linemen Darian Kinnard said about  his team’s undefeated start. “We have a lot to work and a lot of room to grow.”

Kinnard came back to Lexington rather than keeping his name in the 2021 NFL Draft. Through five games, he’s the only offensive tackle in the country with run-blocking (91.5) and pass-blocking (85.1) grades of over 85 each, which had done nothing but help his draft stock.

“It has so far,” Kinnard said about whether or not this season as gone as expected. “The season’s not over. We’ve still got a long way to go—it feels like there’s a lot of games left, but so far so good. I feel pretty confident.”

There are seven games left on Kentucky’s regular season schedule—but through five, Kinnard and the rest of his offensive line have had to make adjustments blocking for a new quarterback under a new game plan.

“It’s a new scheme so it’s very hard to be like 100 percent comfortable with it,” Kinnard said. “In terms of chemistry, I feel like we’re all very comfortable each other. We have trust and faith in each other get job done.”

Despite the 5-0 start, the line is still working out the kinks of playing in offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s complex style of play.

“[We have to] hammer out the details,” Kinnard said. “Especially with Coach Coen’s offense. Everything has a purpose. Every little intricate step, every minute block—everything has it’s purpose. If one thing’s out of wack, it kind of throws all of it off.”

Overall, Kinnard feels the chemistry and brotherhood of this year’s Big Blue Wall has come together nicely, which has been reflected in their undefeated record and the fact that Chris Rodriguez Jr. is the SEC’s leading rusher. 

Kinnard and the rest of the offensive line will be put to the test in their third straight SEC game (fourth overall) this Saturday against LSU. Fellow Kentucky offensive linemen Dare Rosenthal knows quite a bit about the Tigers, having played for and started two games for the 2019 National Championship-winning squad—he’s seen that LSU pass rush up close during his two seasons in Baton Rouge.

“I’ve been relying on what I’ve seen this year off the tape,” Rosenthal said. “I’m not depending too much on what I’ve seen in the past.”

Rosenthal said his teammates have been texting him a little this week ahead of he game, but said he’ll keep the social side of the game to the side until the clock hits zero Saturday night. Kinnard and his teammates have been giving him a hard time about it.

“We like to talk a little smack about his old teammates just to see his reaction,” Kinnard said with a laugh. “He’s having a good time, he’s being a good sport about it.” 

Rosenthal hasn’t been giving any insight on what Kentucky should be expecting, just some light-hearted trash talking ahead of a big-time match up. With just three more days till kickoff—Kinnard and company know it’s time to get serious and work toward one goal: beating LSU.

“We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep going,” Kinnard said.