LEXINGTON — Offensive linemen know recognition will be limited, something they gladly accept for playing the role they do to make quarterbacks, running backs and receivers the stars when a team does well.
However, Kentucky senior offensive lineman Larry Warford admits it was fun to watch film after UK beat Kent State earlier this season in a game where he had eight knockdown blocks, including two on one play.
Warford said that even though he graded out reasonably high at 91 percent that game, Summers didn’t let him gloat.
“He doesn’t want us to ever think we are complete because he knows we are not and we should always remember that. If we are really good at one thing, he will find another thing we can improve on. He just keeps building until we get to level where we are great lineman,” Warford said.
The UK¿guard did admit that he has an “estimation” during a game of how many knockdown blocks he has.
“I keep track of a lot of my cut blocks. We have a game. We call them lightning bolts and whoever gets the most knockdown blocks or cut blocks in a game, at the end of the season coach Summers’ wife makes us our own dinner basically,” Warford said. “The last two years I won it. The first year I¿won it, I got a cake like with my picture on it. It was nice. Last year she made these two different types of dip. One was like buffalo chicken dip that I love. the other was a Tex-Mex dip that I¿also love. I got those two by myself.”
What if he wins again this year? What would he like to have?
“I don’t know. Whatever she wants to cook,” he laughed and said. “I can’t say I¿have won yet. I¿am in the lead right now. We still have a lot of games. But there is absolutely no sharing if I do win. That is mine. I am not going to share.”
Warford feels the offensive line has played well at times, but knows tougher times are ahead starting with the physical defensive front UK will face against South Carolina on Saturday.
“There will be tougher D-lines out there in SEC play starting with South Carolina. We are just trying to steadily progress and I feel like we are doing that,” he said. “It is hard to tell how you play until you get some games under your belt like we have. We played against our defense for a couple of months and you don’t really know how far you have come because you get used to knowing their calls and exactly what they do. To get tested against other SEC teams is when we will really figure out where we are.
“There are freak athletes out there in the SEC. D-linemen running as fast as running backs sometimes. You just have to be ready for that. There are going to be really strong guys, really fast guys out there. You have to actually play against those type of guys to get an understanding of what it is like.”
Warford has been particularly proud of the way junior tackle Kevin Mitchell has played lining up beside him this year as a starter for the first time.
“He has picked up a lot since he has been here. We came in together. He started off a little slow when we first got here. These last couple of months he has dedicated himself to doing everything perfectly that the coaches tell us to and that’s why he is much improved. He has got so much better,” Warford said.
However, Warford credits center Matt Smith for being the line’s leader.
“He lets us by savvy. Once he makes his calls the rest of the line can base our calls off that. That helps our line so much with him knowing what everybody should do,” Warford said.
Warford’s play against Kent State earned him SEC Lineman of the Week honors, one of few times any lineman earns accolades.
“That was nice, but it was only for that week. I couldn’t rest my head on that,” Warford said. “I just have to keep going back to work and keep a level head. Don’t get big-headed. I¿have a lot more to work on and to think I am a complete lineman would be a killer for me. I can’t think like that. No lineman can.”