A familiar figure to Nole fans is Jimmy Heggins, the Kentucky's offensive line coach. Heggins came to UK from Florida State where he coached for 19 years with the Seminoles. Heggins has been the offensive line coach at Kentucky since the 2005 season. Replacing three starters was Heggins’ immediate task for the 2007 season.
Two starters are among nine returning lettermen in the O-Line. UK’s OL by SEC standards for 2007 was very green. Left tackle Gary Williams was the most valuable player on the offensive line at left tackle in 2006. The rest of the offensive line are new at their positions. Kentucky's left guard and center played different positions in 2006. Senior Right guard Jason Leger had an off and on year in 2006 but in 2007 was named the most valuable offensive lineman for the Wildcats.
Early on in the 2007 season, Sporting News said this about Kentucky's offensive line. "Protecting Kentucky's star from the defensive linemen of the SEC is a patchwork unit that includes four former defensive players and two former tight ends... Still, tackles Garry Williams and Justin Jeffries, guards Zipp Duncan and Jason Leger and center Eric Scott have started all five games and allowed just nine sacks for the No. 8 Wildcats (5-0), who face No. 11 South Carolina Thursday night. Woodson says they have earned his trust. "We try to keep him as clean as possible every game," Jeffries said. "We don't like to see a lot of green, a lot of dirt on him."
After a tough win over Vanderbilt head coach Rich Brooks had this to say about his offensive line. "On the whole it's the best offensive line I've had since I've been here, no question about it. We obviously wouldn't be sitting at 7-3 if they had not performed well. That doesn't mean I'm always going to sprinkle the rose petals on them. ... They didn't play well last week and they know it."
After that victory, the Wildcats lost two straight and lost four out of their last five games of the season. In the last five games of the season, they gave up 23 sacks or almost 5 sacks a game.
In 2007, Kentucky ranked last in SEC in sacks allowed giving up 33 sacks on the year. Wildcat center Eric Scott says "I think teams are scheming a lot more. The further the season goes on, the more in-depth the looks are going to get. Teams are throwing new looks at us and we've got to adjust." Apparently the Wildcats did not do enough adjusting in their last five games of the season.
The offensive line has been good enough in run blocking to put the Wildcats at number 5 in the SEC in rushing yards averaging almost 157 yards a game on the ground.Their third down conversions ranks second in the SEC.The offensive line for 2007 was a work in progress but was good enough to allow the Wildcats to win games over Louisville, LSU and Arkansas and win 7 games on the season.
Key Stat: Kentucky ranked last in SEC in number of sacks allowed (33).
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Posted by tallynolefan at 12:21 AM