Report Card: Offensive line struggled mightily in 2014


Joshua Huff Columnist

By Josh Huff

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Suspensions, injuries and penalties hampered a UK offensive line that struggled all season long to establish itself.

Through the first five games of the season, the offensive line started eight different lineman with four different starting combinations. An early suspension to senior left tackle Darrian Miller threw the starting lineup of the offensive line in flux.

What followed was a rash of injuries that plagued the frontline, the most notable being left guard Zach West. A neck injury to the junior sent him to the sidelines for a month, and his return against South Carolina showed how much the Cats missed West.

It was the penalties however that revealed how far the offensive line still needs to improve. Junior tackle Jordan Swindle suffered through a season-long mental lapse, continuously drawing false start penalties against him.

The turnstile rotation of the offensive line limited its ability to grow and gel as a group. That limitation was a direct factor for the 34 sacks it allowed over the season.

As UK’s opponents got tougher, the lack of continuity went on full display. The Cats could not run the ball against better defensive fronts, which forced quarterback Patrick Towles into many passing situations. The sophomore never had time to throw the ball from the pocket, having to scramble in the backfield on many plays and getting sacked numerous times.

As always, there are a few positives to take away. Freshmen players like guard Cole Mosier and tackles Kyle Meadows and Nick Haynes earned valuable playing time as a result of the aforementioned negatives occurring to the veteran starters. Experience is a necessity for an offensive line that will lose Miller come graduation.

However, the up and down season did nothing to build the confidence of the UK fan base. Too many penalties and a lack of physicality hampered the passing and run game, earning the offensive line the grade of a D.