Cats seeking more from tight ends

September 02, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - For Kentucky's offense to be effective, the Wildcats need a productive tight end.

Last year the Cats were limited at tight end. First, Win Gaffron went out with an injury. Next, Jeremiah Drobney broke his hand and played the second half of the season with the injury.

"At least this year we have four players we can line up there," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "Having said that, I am not pleased with what has happened at that position in the last 10 days. We're not as solid as I hoped.

"Some guys need to step up and play better. If somebody is not playing well, somebody is going to step ahead of them quickly."


Drobney says just knowing there is healthy help behind him will make his job easier this year.

"It's nice knowing there are guys behind you so that if you need a break, we won't have a drop in production," Drobney said.

Brooks likely will use four tight ends Saturday against Louisville. The other three - redshirt freshman Eric Scott and junior college transfers Jamir Davis and Kurt Jackson - will be making their Kentucky debuts in the game.

"Having more tight ends will allow us to do a lot more," Drobney said. He noted that offensive coordinator Ron Hudson likes using two tight ends in several formations.

Drobney says his experience, and improved blocking, will make him more effective.

"I came out of high school more of a receiver than a blocking tight end," Drobney said. "You've got to be able to do both. That's why Louisville's offense was so good last year. They could pound away at you because they had great backs, a big line and tight ends that could block.

"We have all worked hard on our blocking. It's an important part of the running game to have effective tight end blocking. It's not the only part, but it is an important part. You have to have somebody on the outside (blocking) so you can get to the perimeter."

Scott probably most versatile

Drobney says Scott probably is the most versatile, and perhaps the best after he catches the ball, of the group. However, he said Jackson and Davis can both block and catch.

"We all kind of have the ability to do both things," Drobney said.

Brooks would like to see Scott consistently show he can do more to help the Kentucky offense.

"He has worlds of potential, but he continues to frustrate me," Brooks said. "He'll do good things, then revert back. He needs to get in better shape. When he gets tired, he gets sloppy.

"He's our strongest blocker. He has nice hands and he's a load to bring down after he catches the ball. But he's got to get better consistently."

Drobney knows many critics expect UK's offense to struggle. He's also read how Louisville's offense is supposed to be the Cardinals' weak link going into this season.

"I've heard all that, but I ignore it," Drobney said. "I don't think our offense is bad. I don't think Louisville's defense is bad. They are hearing the same things we are. They are going to try and prove everybody wrong just like we are.

"It's going to be a big game for us. We are upset we lost last year. We don't want to lose this game for our fans, or ourselves. That adds a little extra enthusiasm, but it also tells me that my position has to play better than we did last year if we want to win."

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