Two of Kentucky’s offensive stars preview the defense


Justin Rigg (83) blocks a defender during the UK football Fan Day open practice on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

Tuesday, the defense previewed the offense, today, the offense has previewed the defense:

“That’s a defense that’s not going to give up a lot of points,” Nebraska transfer and junior wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson said. 

Kentucky gave up nearly 26 (25.9) points per game last season amidst an all-SEC 10-game schedule, which ranked fifth in the conference behind Alabama (19.4), Georgia (20.0), Texas A&M (21.7) and Auburn (24.7). Robinson believes they’ll be ranked higher in 2021.

“They’re sound in really all phases, right up the middle, in the deep end, I can tell you they’re really good in the secondary.” Robinson goes up against those defensive backs everyday in practice and knows better than anyone what they’re capable of.

Robinson pointed to Cedrick Dort Jr., Yusuf Corker, Tyrell Ajian, Jalen Geiger and Carrington Valentine as players in Kentucky’s secondary BBN should keep an eye on. Defensive coordinator Brad White mentioned Corker on Tuesday, stating that if Corker can have a breakout year, this defense can become something special. 

“Really, just all of them in that first and second group (of defensive backs),” Robinson said. “All of them really play well.”

Tight ends coach Vince Marrow said he has to take his hat off to the defensive backs room and also mentioned Dort Jr. specifically as well.

“(Dort Jr.) knows the reputation,” Marrow said about the UK’s secondary success in the NFL. “We have a lot of scouts here, they know we’ve had good DB’s in the past, so if he does what he needs to do, he’ll be another guy in the NFL.”

For most of fall camp, fifth year tight end Justin Rigg has had a tough matchup with senior pass rusher Josh Paschal. “He’s just an all-around great athlete,” Rigg said. “He’s a freak and he can do just about anything. He’s just as fast as anybody out there … he’s the biggest person to look for (this season).”

Paschal, a two-time team captain at UK, rounded last season with 32 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and two interceptions (one for 76, the other for 81 yards) in 10 starts. He also has 21.5 career TFL throughout his time donning the blue and white.

This year’s Kentucky team runs deep, especially in the secondary. Marrow said whoever decides to step up will be the ones on the field on Saturdays.

“This ain’t no charity,” Marrow said about getting defenders on the field. “You’ve got to be ready to go every year, you’ve got to be able to play. We’ve got a lot of depth (on defense).”