Eric Wolford has an embarrassment of riches at offensive tackle. When completing his first iteration of the Big Blue Wall, Kentucky’s new offensive line coach must choose between a preseason All-American, a National Champion, a former four-star JUCO prospect and a senior that’s played in two dozen games. It’s not a bad problem to have.
Last week Dare Rosenthal officially made the move from LSU to Kentucky after starting a handful of games at left tackle for the Tigers in 2020. A 6-foot-7, 330 pound athlete, his strength is in pass protection, the one area that hasn’t necessarily been a strength for the mauling Wildcat blockers. In a shocking upset at Florida, he made one incredible play on a cornerback blitz in the fourth quarter that kept the Tigers alive.
You have my attention, Dare Rosenthal. Just an outstanding play by a LT to create an explosive play late in a tight game. pic.twitter.com/smoBEcgz64
— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) July 5, 2021
Even though Dare is probably best suited to play left tackle, Darian Kinnard returned for one more season in the Bluegrass to prove to NFL scouts he can play the money-making position. With Rosenthal in the fold, it complicates the equation for the coach best known as Wolf.
When push came to shove, last week Rosenthal told KSR that “it doesn’t matter” what position he plays. “Whatever the team needs.” Rosenthal’s willingness to play where ever on the offensive line should make it easier to show good will to the Big Blue Wall’s returning star, but it might be in UK’s best interest to put Dare at left tackle.
The question remains, who will be Kentucky’s left tackle this, Dare or Darian? The answer could be “both.”
In a recent discussion on 11 Personnel, Adam Luckett shared how UK could reach a compromise, allowing both players to take reps at left tackle this fall without pigeon-holing each guy into a specific spot. Instead of “left tackle and right tackle,” Wolford could assign each player to a side of the line, either “boundary or field.”
For those unfamiliar with the concept, it all applies to where the ball is marked on the field. If the snap is on the left hashmark, the left tackle is lined up on the boundary, where the right tackle will operate with more space on the field side of the ball. This graphic from Reddit illustrates it much clearer.
Boundary or field assignments are typically used for defensive backs. It gives the defense flexibility by putting a lock-down cornerback on an island to operate in space on the field side on every snap. The players simply rotate to either side depending on where the ball is snapped.
Although unconventional, Kentucky’s offensive tackles could switch spots after each snap, allowing each player to get reps at left tackle. As an example, Rosenthal’s athleticism suits him to the field side. If the ball is on the left hashmark, Rosenthal would play right tackle, with Kinnard lined up at left tackle.
It’s unknown if this has been considered by Kentucky’s coaching staff. If implemented, the boundary and field assignments would allow each player the opportunity to show NFL scouts tape at left tackle, and display individual versatility that professional franchises covet. This compromise could be the answer to Wildcats’ “good problem” on the offensive line.
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