Eight weeks. That is all we have until it is finally time for football in Lexington. While I love the game of baseball, the kickoff to football season begins the most entertaining months of the year.
This year’s Kentucky football team is one of the most interesting ones in recent history. On offense, you have a player who might go down as one of the top offensive players in program history. At the same time though, you have a lot of questions at the quarterback position. Who will start game one is probably the biggest. Defensively, they have the potential to be really good, but still have some holes that could be exploited by teams with strong offenses.
On paper, this is probably a team that should be an obvious bowl eligible team and one that could go to a decent bowl game. The issue is that this year’s schedule is difficult with road games in Gainesville, College Station, Knoxville and Missouri.
While covering different teams over the past few years, one of my favorite things to ask a coach in a one-on-one setting is what his or her definition of a successful season is? Is it strictly based on reaching a certain win total? Or is it based on winning a championship? Or how successful players are at the next level?
Fans, on the other hand, typically have a very different definition of success. On the show, you will hear some fans call in expecting this year’s team to win at least 8 games where some will say they’ll be lucky to win five.
For me, this year’s Kentucky football team will be a success if they can do three things.
Win the Games they’re Favored in
This one might sound stupid, but it seems that it happens every year that Kentucky loses to someone that they shouldn’t lose to. Last year, it was the Ole Miss game. Two years ago it was the Southern Miss game. While they have still become bowl eligible even with those losses, it just makes me ask what if they would have won those games? Could the bowl game have been even better?
This year, the games I would classify as games the Cats should win would be: Central Michigan, Murray State, Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State. All four of those games are at home and all are games that this year’s team HAS to win.
Like everyone that reads this site, I am sick and tired of losing to Florida. 2018 brought the end to one of Kentucky basketball’s big streaks, so could it actually bring the end to one that fans long for the end of. Winning in Gainesville is hard, especially when officials let you snap the ball with no time remaining on the clock… but that is a post for another day.
In a way, I would take going 1-11 this season if that one win came against Florida. For one, this year’s Gator team is not that much better than Kentucky’s team. Plus, nothing would be sweeter than beating Florida on their home turf.
Become Bowl Eligible
This shouldn’t even be a goal for this year’s team. It needs to start to be an expectation for Mark Stoops’ teams. While the schedule is difficult this season, it would be a major disappointment for the team to fall short of bowl eligibility for this season.
In fact, I had considered making this section of my definition of success as making it to a better bowl game than the Music City Bowl. We need to change the expectations of the program. While the location is perfect, a game in Florida sounds a lot better. Trust me, as one of the fans that was in attendance in Nashville this past year, a warmer weather bowl game sounds so much better.
So now I leave you with this question: what are your parameters for success this year? Is it the same as mine? Or would you add something else?