LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Circumstances appear to be going from bad to worse for a struggling Kentucky football team.
The Wildcats not only left South Carolina this weekend with a 1-4 record and their 12th straight Southeastern Conference defeat, but also lost several key players to injuries. Somewhat fittingly, the most serious was sustained by arguably the team's best player, defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. The hard-hitting sophomore was diagnosed with a mild MCL tear which could keep him out of action for at least three to four weeks.
Kentucky coach Guy Morriss said it didn't appear Robertson's injury will require surgery, but he will have to wear a brace for the remainder of the season. Robertson was already hampered by a nagging ankle sprain and a sore shoulder which had limited his production since recording 10 tackles in the season opener against Louisville.
The Cats also figure to be without senior center Nolan DeVaughn for the next three to four weeks with a sublexed shoulder. He was one of three offensive lineman hurt in Saturday's game, including Antonio Hall and Keith Chatelain with ankle sprains. Morriss said Hall sustained his injury on the final play of the game. Both of those players are considered questionable for this week's matchup with LSU.
Those injuries mean UK's razor-thin line corps will be tested against the Tigers. Morriss said he plans to start senior Matt Brown (LT), redshirt freshman Jason Rollins (LG), sophomore and coverted defensive lineman Nick Seitze (C), senior Josh Parrish (RG) and redshirt freshman Matt Huff (RT) unless the injured players heal quicker than expected.
"It kind of throws us in a bad situation where we already have a problem with our numbers and depth," Morriss said. "Our three young offensive linemen, it's good they'll get to play, but at this stage in their development, I'm not sure you'd like to throw them all three out there at the same time for a whole game. You'd like to be able to spot them in there a little bit like we've done the last two weeks, let them gain some experience and confidence and grow a little at a time.
"The interesting thing will be, how will they react now that they've had a whole week to think about starting against a team like LSU? It's a little bit different when you're just suddenly pushed out on the field; you don't have time to think about it.... But they'll get a ton of reps this week. It's kind of what we've got, what we've got to go with. Coach them up, coach the heck out of them, and go to war with them."
Sophomore Sylvester Miller (G) and redshirt freshman Josh Jaggers (G/C) are the only two remaining linemen who could realistically play against LSU.
"I think we have to rock along and see how the game goes," Morriss said of the possibility of using Miller and Jaggers. "Right now, we've got three guys who don't have but a handful of snaps to start with. They would probably need every rep they could get. But if the situation presents itself, I think we need to get the other two guys in the game."
Tight end Derek Smith (shoulder) and linebacker Chris Gayton (stinger) are listed as probable for LSU.
Asked how he thought the wave of injuries would affect his team's already fragile mental state, Morriss said: "They see the injuries on a weekly basis. I don't know if that will bother them too much. But it's just a matter of being positive, going out to give it our best effort and see what happens."