Guard Michael Statham tore his meniscus and is expected to miss at least the first four games. Tackle Blake Wesley had an MRI last week on his knee, but it was negative. Senior lineman Kyle Allen has missed practice because, Stephens said, "muscles in his knees are pulling his kneecaps away from his knees." Both are expected to play in the opener Friday against East Jessamine at the Death Valley Bowl at Lincoln County.
Casey will have just 35 healthy players Friday. One of them is senior quarterback Kyle Long, who missed last season after tearing a knee ligament in Casey's final scrimmage. The Casey coach said Long runs the ball well, and will be counted on to do that often this year.
"With a young offensive line, it's going to be real difficult for us to do any pocket passing, so we're getting him out of the pocket on the snap," Stephens said.
Also helping to run the ball will be senior Tristan Harris, a player Stephens said can break a big run at any time.
"He's not very big, so he's not that hard to tackle, but if he hits a seam he can make things happen," Stephens said.
Stephens is also counting on sophomore wideout Marcus Patterson for big plays. Stephens said he has good speed and good hands.
The Rebels will be facing an opponent that is also limited in experience as East Jessamine was hit hard by graduation last year. However, Stephens said he expects to see the same kind of football the Jaguars have become known for.
"For the last two or three years, they've primarily run the football, and I don't expect that to change," Stephens said. "They always have good talent and speed, and they're reasonably big up front. That's always a good combination to run the ball."