LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Unity will be the key for Kentucky this season on an offensive line that features two returning starters and a number of talented newcomers.
Senior center Matt McCutchan and junior right tackle Hayden Lane return to anchor a line that has added depth with several new players, including junior college transfer Fatu Turituri.
While several individuals on the offensive line will be counted on to step up big, the lines emphasis on teamwork will be the key to its success in 2005.
"The key is really just playing as a group," junior right guard Trai Williams said. "We need to come out and support one another."
First-year offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins, who joins the Wildcats after 19 seasons at Florida State, agrees.
"The players are really beginning to realize that if theyre going to play on the line, they are going to have to trust one another," Heggins said. "I tell them, 'You need to trust your buddies.' We have to play as a group because if we miss one block, we haven't done our job.
McCutchan returns after starting 10 games last season, a year in which he earned an SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week award. McCutchan, who is known for his fundamentally-sound play, is able to handle the shotgun snap extremely well.
Turituri, an American Samoa native, joined the team from Los Angeles Harbor College, where he was a two year starter at offensive tackle. He was named a first-team All-South Division selection his sophomore season.
Lane, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior, started each of the teams 11 games last season and has made great strides in his game since last year and will be counted on as a leader on the line this season.
Williams, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship last season, moved to right guard this season after playing 13 games at the left guard position in his two-year career. He says that the team has adjusted well to its new system.
"Things really seem to be coming together at the perfect time," he said. "We've pretty much got all the kinks worked out."
Junior Michael Aitcheson rounds out the starting lineup at left guard. Coach Rich Brooks inherited a problem of lack of numbers in the offensive line and has addressed that through recruiting. Brooks brought in seven freshman offensive lineman in August, two of whom -- left guard Christian Johnson and right tackle Sefo Blaylock -- already have advanced to the second team.
Youth Brings Added Depth to the Offensive Line
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