As the season continues to roll on, Justin Rowland of Rivals took the time to do an interview with us! I want to thank Justin for taking the time to do the interview. You can follow him on Twitter with the handle @RowlandRIVALS. Here’s what he had to say!
Q. The Florida game was a huge game for recruiting, what was the overall feedback you got from the guys who were in attendance?
Justin Rowland: “It was the same kind of feedback I got from most guys after the Georgia game last year or the Auburn game in 2015. The fans made the atmosphere really impressive and that’s the most important thing for visitors to see, especially those coming from out of state who haven’t really been exposed to Kentucky football before. But a win would have made even more of a difference. I’ve talked to several players, committed and uncommitted, and their parents, who said they like that UK is winning the games it should win, but now they want to see the Cats beat the traditional top teams in the East. There were a couple of current commits who told me they were ready to shut their recruitment down if Kentucky had won.”
Q. Kentucky has picked up two recent commits in Tyler Markray and Manny Harper. What can you tell us about their games?
Justin Rowland: “Well, they’re both preferred walk ons so your expectations for those guys should factor that in. I’m not as familiar with how the recruiting process normally works for preferred walk ons, but it does seem a little strange to accept those guys in those roles so early in the process. Harper is a smaller possession receiver and he could look to Charles Walker for evidence that a guy like that could make an impact. Tyler Markray is a blue collar running back who gets tough yards. Markray is good friends with 2018 commitments DeAndre Square and Marquan McCall, both of Michigan as well, while Harper is the teammate and classmate of four-star cornerback Jairus Brents, the top player in Kentucky from the 2018 class.”
Q. If Kentucky beats Missouri, the Cats will be 5-1 heading into the bye week. How important is that to the program?
Justin Rowland: “This game is very important but there’s more to lose than to gain. This is a game they should win because Missouri is a very poor team, especially defensively. It would further cement Kentucky’s status as an up-and-coming East program that has had great success against the lower-tier East teams (South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri) in recent years. That 5-1 record would look even better considering Mississippi State appears much more vulnerable now than they did three weeks ago. But this game is mostly important because a loss would be close to devastating. Why? Because Missouri’s a bad team and it would be a really bad sign for the rest of the way.”
Q. What area do you want to see Kentucky work on the most during the bye week?
Justin Rowland: “The big thing they have to figure out is the offensive line. I feel like every other part of the team is matching or exceeding the expectations I had for them before the season. You have to feel great about the defense and the special teams. They have been opportunistic, have protected the ball, have turned opponents over. But that offensive line has been a mess. Opponents are beating UK’s tackles too often on those speed rushes and UK’s interior linemen have been woefully inconsistent with missed assignments and poor snaps. They don’t have as much depth there as last year. They’ve been banged up. But they really just need the line to start to click.”
Q. Looking at the second half of the schedule, Kentucky realistically has a shot in all the games besides Georgia maybe. How do you see the second half of the season playing out?
Justin Rowland: “The Georgia game is going to be very difficult because their defensive line will have a big advantage over Kentucky’s offensive line and that will make it tough for Kentucky to win a ball control, field position kind of game that they’re so comfortable with. I have to think Kentucky will be favored against Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Louisville looks like they’re going to be a tough game. Ole Miss has to decide which course their season is going to take after a road loss to Cal and an embarrassment against Alabama. I’ll guess they make it to the halfway point 5-1 and go 3-3 on the back half for an 8-4 finish.”
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