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Preview Alabama vs. Kentucky: The Wildcats Offense

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New Mexico State v Kentucky Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Quarterback

New Mexico State v Kentucky Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Starters:

15 Stephen Johnson (Jr.) - Through the first two starts of his career, it has been mixed results for Johnson. His first start came two weeks ago against New Mexico State where Johnson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns. I believe we saw a more accurate depiction of what Johnson is as a quarterback against South Carolina, however. He only managed to throw for 135 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. There is a reason the 6’2 183 pound quarterback from Rancho Cucamonga, California was the backup before Drew Barker suffered a back injury. Still, he is a mobile quarterback who could make plays against the Tide if given the chance.

2016 Season Stats: 29/44 (65.9%), 490 pass yards, three touchdowns, one interception

Running Back

Vanderbilt v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Starters:

18 Stanley “Boom” Williams (Jr.) - Boom Williams is a former four-star prospect who made an immediate impact his freshman season back in 2014. He has been the offense’s best player for the last two seasons, and the 5’9 196 pound junior from Monroe, Georgia will be a focus for Alabama’s defense. Williams is considered undersized for a typical SEC running back, but he runs with more power than some would expect. The offensive game plan for Kentucky will be centered around him and Snell Jr. this weekend.

2016 Season Stats: 58 carries, 476 yards rushing, two touchdowns

48 Will Thomas Collins (Sr.) - Thomas Collins is a former walk-on who earned a scholarship at the last second heading into this year. He is a hard-nosed, throwback type of player who loves contact. At 5’11 238, he has the size you look for in a fullback.

2016 Season Stats: 4 starts

Names to Know:

26 Benny Snell Jr. (Fr.) - Snell Jr. has emerged as a reliable, rotational running back the last couple of games after not recording a statistic the first two weeks of the season. At 5’11 220 pounds, the true freshman is considered the thunder to Boom Williams’ lightning, and he is definitely a guy to monitor heading into Saturday’s game. Jojo Kemp might still be listed ahead of him on the depth chart, but Snell Jr. is the future for Kentucky’s backfield.

2016 Season Stats: 33 carries, 209 yards rushing, five touchdowns

Wide Receiver

Southern Miss v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Starters:

13 Jeff Badet (RS Jr.) - Badet started 10 games last season for the Wildcats, and he was poised to breakout this season. So far, Badet has not disappointed. With a 30.6 yards per catch average, Badet has proven to be a big play threat that Alabama will have to try to contain. He has only averaged two catches per game, so don’t expect him to see a ton of targets, but don’t be surprised to see him be the guy Kentucky looks to get downfield early.

2016 Season Stats: Eight receptions, 245 receiving yards, one touchdown

09 Garrett Johnson (Jr.) - Johnson is Kentucky’s returning receiving yardage leader from last season after recording 694 yards in 2015. At only 5’11 175 pounds, Johnson is extremely light for the position, but he has proven that he can be a threat at wide receiver. He currently leads the team in receptions.

2016 Season Stats: 13 receptions, 212 receiving yards, two touchdowns

01 Ryan Timmons (Sr.) - Timmons earned playing time as a freshman back in 2013. Since then, the 5’10 198 pound senior out of Frankfort, Kentucky has proven to be a versatile piece, but his impact hasn’t translated into on the field production this season. The Kentucky passing game has been underwhelming so far this year, and I don’t expect that to change much against the Tide on Saturday.

2016 Season Stats: Six receptions, 72 receiving yards

Names to Know:

80 Tavin Richardson (So.) - Overall, Kentucky’s wide receiver unit is struggling when it comes to consistency. Richardson is no different. Being only a sophomore, Richardson is young and has shown flashes of becoming a decent receiver, but he needs a lot more work if he wants to take his game to the next level. The good news is that at 6’3 211 pounds, he is Kentucky’s biggest wide receiver which makes him a valuable depth piece for a unit that lacks size.

2016 Season Stats: Four receptions, 96 receiving yards

Tight End

New Mexico State v Kentucky Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Starters:

87 C.J. Conrad (So.) - Boom Williams is considered Kentucky’s best offensive playmaker, but Conrad is quickly emerging as a close second. The sophomore from Lagrange, Ohio was the highest rated player in Kentucky’s 2015 recruiting class, and he has the physical and mental makeup of a future NFL tight end. Alabama will likely try to take Conrad out of the equation, but completely eliminating the 6’5 245 pound tight end might be easier said than done.

2016 Season Stats: Seven receptions, 146 receiving yards, three touchdowns

Offensive Line

Louisiana Monroe v Kentucky Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images

Starters:

67 Landon Young (Fr.) - Young is one of the highest rated recruits in recent memory for Kentucky. Some recruiting services had him as a five-star, but the ones who didn’t still had him as a highly rated four-star. He earned his first start against New Mexico State two weeks ago and impressed in his debut. There will be bumps along the way for Young, but the 6’7 305 pound freshman from Lexington is poised to have a great career. However, Young will have the difficult task of trying to help contain Alabama’s fierce pass rush.

2016 Season Stats: 2 games started

68 Nick Haynes (RS Jr.) - Haynes is a seasoned vet along Kentucky’s offensive line after playing in 27 career games for the Wildcats thus far (13 starts). At 6’3 316 pounds, Haynes has the ability to play either guard position, but he has settled down and become an effective starter at left guard. He seems to be a much more effective run blocker at this point in his career, so expect him to struggle in pass protection on Saturday going against Jonathan Allen.

2016 Season Stats: 4 games started

72 Jon Toth (RS Sr.) - Toth is by far Kentucky’s most experienced offensive lineman. He has made 35 consecutive starts for the Wildcat’s dating back to 2013 when he was a redshirt freshman. The 6’5 310 pound senior from Indianapolis, IN will be relied upon to provide leadership for Kentucky this season, and his experience will be crucial to any chance Kentucky might have at upsetting the Tide this weekend.

2016 Season Stats: 4 games started

69 Ramsey Meyers (RS Jr.) - The experience that Kentucky has on the interior of their offensive line is impressive. Like both Haynes and Toth, Meyers has been a steady starter for the Wildcats for quite some time. He has made 28 consecutive starts -- including four this season -- and he is a big reason that Boom Williams has been able to be such a consistent producer at running back. Meyers is listed at 6’4 305 pounds.

2016 Season Stats: 4 games started

73 Kyle Meadows (RS Jr.) - Meadows stepped into the starting right tackle role last year and finished the 2015 season with nine starts under his belt. Only a three-star prospect coming out of Ohio back in 2013, the 6’5 300 pound redshirt junior has emerged as a quality player for the Wildcats. With that said, expect him to struggle mightily versus Alabama’s Tim Williams, and don’t be surprised if Williams ends up at least doubling his sack total for the season.

2016 Season Stats: 4 games started

How Will Kentucky Attack Alabama?

The Wildcat offense took a major hit when they lost Dorian Baker to injury. The former four-star prospect was their returning leader in receptions (55) and touchdowns (3) from the 2015 season, and his leadership and experience would give Kentucky’s offense a huge boost heading into Tuscaloosa.

On top of that, the offense also had to deal with losing their starting quarterback Drew Barker to a back injury that will prevent him from taking the field against Alabama. People forget that Barker ended up taking the starting job from former four-star quarterback Patrick Towels last season which led to Towels transferring to Boston College. Barker made his fair share of mistakes through the first two games -- throwing five interceptions to only four touchdowns -- but he gave the offense the best chance to put up points.

With Barker out, Kentucky is going to have an even harder time establishing any kind of consistency on offense. I expect them to try to get their ground game going early with Boom Williams and Benny Snell Jr., but they will more than likely have to abandon the run early and try to rely on the arm of Stephen Johnson. They still have playmakers are wide receiver, but Alabama’s physical secondary could end up being too much to handle.

Marlon Humphrey has continued to struggle with covering the deep ball, so don’t be surprised to see Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops try to take some early shots downfield to loosen things up for his talented running back duo.

The one thing that Kentucky’s offense has going for it is their experience along the offensive line. Four of the five players along that group are returning starters from last year -- with former five-star Young being the only new starter. That experience is going to be needed if Kentucky wants to have any chance at establishing some type of offensive success.