For the fifth time in six weeks, Kentucky football has performed so well that a pair of players have received Southeastern Conference weekly awards. After dominating LSU 42-21 on Saturday Eli Cox and Octavius Oxendine were both singled out.
Kentucky (6-0, 4-0) has started the season 6-0 for the first time in 71 years (1950) and just the fifth time in school history. The Wildcats 4-0 start in league play has only happed four other times in 1949, 1950, 1977.
Big Blue has knocked off Florida and LSU in successive weeks and Oxendine and Cox have played vital roles in both victories as each has elevated their game to another level.
Cox, Oxendine really playing well stepping up games for Kentucky football
Cox is a hometown guy hailing from nearby Nicholasville and played at West Jessamine High. The SEC honored him with the co-Offensive Lineman of the Week award.
Now a towering 6-foot-3, 294-pounds the sophomore was already the hero earlier this season recovering a fumble in the endzone by Chris Rodriguez.
Against LSU his play on the line helped open holes for Rodriguez, Kavoisiey Smoke, and Will Levis as the Wildcats churned out 330 rushing yards, an astounding 7.7 yards per rush. UK Athletics released that after coaches grading his performance his final grade was 91 percent, and he led the team with seven knockdown blocks and had 15 blocks at the point of attack. He remarkably didn’t miss an assignment or yielded any pressures from the Tigers.
Cox ended up at UK after also considering Cincinnati, Marshall, Ohio, and Toledo.
Across the way, Oxendine had risen on the depth chart and had taken over the starting spot. Against LSU he showed the Tigers and the rest of the SEC what a force he was becoming.
He got to quarterback Max Johnson twice and notched the first sacks of his career completing a three-tackle game. The 6-foot-1, 318-pound sophomore from Radcliff, Kentucky recorded his first sack in the second quarter and was then credited with a sack when Johnson was called for a pivotal intentional grounding call that resulted in a penalty and loss of a down.
Oxendine was up to 15 tackles thus far for the year with 3.5 for a loss and one quarterback hit in the Chattanooga game. He picked UK over Tennessee and Texas.
Unfortunately, Mark Stoops delivered the bad news on Monday that Oxendine would miss the remainder of the season with a lower leg injury. The coach would not elaborate any further.
Kentucky is already down nose-guard Marquan McCall for several more games with a leg injury and wide receiver has also been listed as out for this weekend’s Georgia game.
Brad White will need to move some players around and elevate others on the depth chart and mentioned that to the media after the LSU game.
“Guys are going to have to step up and they’re probably going to have to learn a couple of different positions.”
When Kentucky released the depth chart it shows the right tackle spot is manned by redshirt senior Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald and true freshman Kahlil Saunders. Others who could be moving around are another bright spot so far Tre’vonn Rybka who normally plays behind UK stud Josh Paschal.
The Wildcats will get the services of Jeremy Flax back this week after missing last week Stoops confirmed on Monday.
He has been down this road many times and it’s part of the next-man-up rationale.
“We have to get better with some of the guys that are going to be forced into playing time. We have to look at all aspects of the things we’re doing, what they do best, and try to have a by committee (approach), move guys around and look at different ways on third down.”
Despite dings, bruises, aches, and pains the Wildcats will go full tilt prepping for No. 1 Georgia on Saturday. The rest will have to wait till Sunday to begin with Kentucky having its bye week next Saturday.