As Kentucky discovers its Identity, Players are Finding their Roles


Kentucky wide receiver Allen Dailey Jr. (89) catches the ball for a touch down in the end zone during a game between Tennessee and Kentucky at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.Image obtained from SEC Media Portal – 101720_Tenn_Ky_GameAction1902

Barkley Truax

As has become tradition under Mark Stoops, Kentucky has a highly touted offensive line and a top rushing attack. The combination of the two when they’re playing at their peak is difficult to contain.

The Cats have been on a defensive rampage the past two games, hauling in nine interceptions while allowing just one touchdown. At the same time, Kentucky hasn’t had games to write home about offensively.

“We’ve got to put 60 minutes together,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said, “[We need to] be more consistent. Whether it’s throwing, catching, blocking, our technique and fundamentals. That’s what football is.”

Kentucky’s passing game is where the biggest question marks lie. Josh Ali has emerged as the Wildcats number one receiver early on, snagging 22 catches for 246 yards so far this season. Against Tennessee, Allen Dailey Jr. stood out, hauling in three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Gran told the media Tuesday that it’s important for Terry Wilson has another player to rely on when he drops back to throw. Dailey Jr solidified himself as someone opposing defenses shouldn’t take lightly after playing the Vols.

Wilson has the most rushing yards for any quarterback in the SEC (253). Kentucky’s run-oriented attack has opened up the passing game for Wilson in second halves. He hasn’t always connected, but with more receivers available as reliable targets – Kentucky can cover all their bases offensively.

Running back Jutahn McClain is another player who stood out on Saturday. With Kavosiey Smoke missing his second straight game due to broken ribs, the freshman has capitalized on his chance.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” he said. “I’m a young buck so it means a lot to me knowing that Coach Gran can trust me enough to put me out there.”

It isn’t just the coaches that trust him.

“The big guys have been coaching me up as well,” McClain said. “A.J [Rose], Chris [Rodriguez Jr.], and [Kavosiey] Smoke.”

With Kentucky’s run-first offensive style, expect to see the young Wildcat carry the ball five to ten times against Missouri as Kentucky’s third running back behind Rose and Rodriguez Jr.

It’s at that time in the season where Kentucky now knows who they have and how they can contribute to team success. Guys like Dailey Jr. and McClain are embracing these newfound roles with teammates and coaches fully behind them.