University of Kentucky junior defensive tackle Myron Pryor was suspended for Saturday's season-opener against Eastern Kentucky for a violation of team rules, head coach Rich Brooks announced Monday.
"That thins us at a position where we don't have a lot of experience going into this game," Brooks said. "It hurts anytime a player does something that violates the team disciplinary code."
Brooks said Pryor's suspension makes him even more relieved that Kentucky's season opener is against Eastern Kentucky instead of in-state rival Louisville.
"There's over a six-month period from the end of last season to the start to this season," Brooks said. "That's maybe just one more reason I'm glad that we're not opening with our normal opener, when you lose a player with the significance of Myron Pryor."
Brooks said redshirt freshman Ricky Lumpkin will start at tackle alongside sophomore Corey Peters. Freshman Shane McCord will join Ventrell Jenkins in the rotation at tackle.
"Shane McCord is clearly in the rotation," Brooks said. "He will play this year and as the season goes along, he could be a significant contributor in the defensive interior."
Brooks also expressed displeasure with left guard Christian Johnson, who started 12 games last season but has been dropped to second string on the depth chart for Saturday's game.
"In some cases, he's regressed a little bit," Brooks said. "I wish I could answer it. Christian has a lot of ability. I am one of his biggest proponents of getting him to play to his capability, and at this point I have failed to do that. That's my responsibility, and I'm not getting the message across, and I'm not doing it very well."
Wide receiver Keenan Burton said Johnson needs to perform well for the offensive line to play at a high level.
"Christian Johnson could be and is the best offensive lineman that we have," Burton said. "But until he steps up and shows that, Coach is going to keep constantly saying what he has to say and doing what he has to do so he can understand it. He thinks the world of him, and he understands that we need him. But Christian has to understand he has to do some things that we need him to do so that he can be a big factor."