Kentucky is going to be thin at wide receiver this season. There is no way around it. Eight scholarship receivers is a low number for any team (especially considering that four of them are newcomers), but for an Air Raid offense it’s almost comical. A lot is being made of the numbers game in the UK media and on the message boards, but I am here to tell you that it will be alright.
The Air Raid , Neal Brown’s version especially is nothing if not adaptable. The simple concepts behind the offense make it easier to fit your play-calling to your personnel, rather than putting a square peg in a round hole like we have seen so many times over the past few years. So there is a good chance that the offense that you see in Commonwealth Stadium this year doesn’t look like Mumme-ball (actually I promise it won’t) or even the offense Brown ran at Texas Tech. That isn’t to say it won’t be fast-paced and put up points, because it should, but five wide receivers aren’t likely to share the field a lot.
I think what you will see is the tight ends being used in the passing game more.Kentuckyonly has two blocking tight ends, Tyler Robinson and the seldom used Patrick Ligon. The other four are primarily pass-catchers, most of whom haven’t played much because they weren’t good enough blockers to play for Randy Sanders. JUCO Steven Borden is actually listed on the roster as both a WR and a TE, Brown has said several times that they want to move him around the formation to create mismatches. So Borden could be the X factor this fall.
Somehow two years after injury and attrition forcedUKto use CoShik Williams as a starter, the Cats now have an embarrassment of riches at running back. And nearly all of them can catch the football. Jonathan George and Josh Clemons are both serviceable at worst catching out of the backfield. Raymond Sanders, Jojo Kemp and Khalid Thomas could all see time at receiver due to their versatility.
And one scenario to consider is if Jalen Whitlow doesn’t win the starting position during camp. Don’t get me wrong, I actually prefer Whitlow as the starter, but it is a closer race than people think. So if he were to be second or third on the depth chart at QB, could the coaches let Whitlow play a little receiver? He was a QB/WR in high school, not even starting at QB for his team. He certainly has the size and athleticism. Just look at the trick play last year he turned into a 33-yard reception and nearly scored on.
If none of that makes you feel better, just watch Ryan Timmons highlights for a while: