Kentucky football’s offensive line rebuild was dealt what could be a significant blow in the first half of the 2023 season opener versus Ball State.
Super senior left guard Kenneth Horsey, UK’s most experienced lineman and a team captain, was taken to the locker room on a cart after suffering what appeared to be a leg injury in the second quarter. A UK spokeswoman confirmed just after the start of the second half that Horsey was out for the rest of the game.
After Kentucky’s 44-14 win, UK coach Mark Stoops said he had no update on Horsey’s status. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen later told reporters the injury was something Horsey had dealt with before.
With Horsey out, West Virginia transfer Dylan Ray, a walk-on, took over left guard responsibilities. Kentucky’s depth at guard was already hurt by a season-ending injury to Ohio State transfer Ben Christman.
“Yeah, I mean you’d love having Horsey,” Coen said. “I’m really bummed for him because he had been battling that injury. For it to come up again was disappointing. I feel for the guy, but I did feel like Dylan Ray stepped up. He didn’t hurt us. I didn’t feel like he did. I haven’t watched the tape yet, but I didn’t feel like his presence took our offense a step back by any means, so that’s encouraging.”
Horsey’s injury came immediately after a replay review awarded Kentucky the ball after a Ball State fumble. UK safety Jordan Lovett appeared to return the fumble for a touchdown, but officials had blown the play dead, initially ruling the Ball State player was down before losing the ball. Since the play had been blown dead, officials could not grant UK the touchdown even though replay confirmed the fumble.
Playing his sixth season at Kentucky, Horsey elected to return to school to use the extra season of eligibility granted all players in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in part to prove himself as a guard again to NFL scouts. Horsey played left tackle in 2021 out of necessity due after a series of injuries and early NFL draft entries left the Wildcats thin at that position.
“Obviously getting Eli (Cox) back to right guard where he played really well for Liam (Coen) in 21,” offensive line coach Zach Yenser said this week. “Obviously Kenneth back at left guard, where he started when I got here and obviously had to bump back out (to left tackle). Those two guys really just shored up the middle. A lot of games for those guys.”