ORLANDO - Kentucky football will be without at least eight players normally on the two-deep depth chart for the Citrus Bowl versus Iowa due to a combination of injuries and health and safety protocols initiated by positive COVID-19 tests.
Defensive end Josh Paschal, left tackle Dare Rosenthal, wide receiver Josh Ali and outside linebacker J.J. Weaver are among the starters listed as inactive by UK. Among the key backups out are running back Kavosiey Smoke, linebacker Trevin Wallace, linebacker Marquez Bembry and wide receiver Isaiah Epps.
Rosenthal, Weaver, Smoke, Wallace and Bembry had not previously been confirmed to miss the game. UK has declined to identify specific players who have tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, so it is not clear if those players are sideline by injuries or health and safety protocols.
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On Friday, UK coach Mark Stoops said Paschal was unlikely to play as he works his way back from an undisclosed injury sustained in the regular season finale versus Louisville. A first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press, Paschal leads Kentucky with 15.5 tackles for loss to go with 53 tackles, 5.5 sacks and eight quarterback hurries. He finishes his UK career with 139 tackles, 37 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.
UK previously announced wide receivers Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps would miss the game due to injuries sustained in a car accident in December. Ali ranks second on the team in catches and receiving yards.
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Rosenthal started all 12 games in the regular season at left tackle after transferring from LSU. Normal starting left guard Kenneth Horsey took reps with the first-team offensive line at left tackle during warmups.
Weaver, a Moore High School graduate, leads UK in sacks (six). Smoke ranks second on the team in rushing yards (416) and has scored four touchdowns this season. Wallace recorded 32 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks in his freshman season as the primary backup at middle linebacker.
Senior middle linebacker Jacquez Jones was not listed among the inactives by UK before the game but did not play either. Jones, who was spotted wearing a walking boot during pre-bowl activities this week, dressed out and participated in warmups.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky football: Starters sidelined for Citrus Bowl by COVID-19