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The idea CBS had to poll college basketball coaches around the nation anonymously has ruffled a few feathers in Big Blue Nation over the past week. The results of one poll, which named John Calipari the most “perceived” cheater in the game, haven’t gone over well with many. For others, it raised questions about the journalistic ethics of asking such a question.
Athlon Sports has noticed that “coach-speak” doesn’t always rake in the internet hits either — but get these same coaches to talk candidly and you’ve got something. That’s just was Athlon has done, and have done every August during pre-season football; asking coaches in the SEC to talk anonymously about their football opponents. What Kentucky’s conference foes have to say about the team could surely be considered bulletin board material.
“I don’t think Maxwell Smith is going to be the answer long term for them at quarterback. He came in and gave them a spark late in the year, but he is not a guy who is going to be a top-flight quarterback in this league.”
“CoShik Williams is a lower-level SEC back. He had some moments last year, but I think his best games were against Jacksonville State (148 yards) and Ole Miss (111).”
“Their personnel just weren’t very good last year. They had higher expectations for Morgan Newton, who started off the season as their quarterback. He did some good things as a freshman a couple of years ago, but just didn’t pan out, for whatever reason.”
“They relied so heavily on Randall Cobb two years ago. He did everything for them, and they lacked that type of playmaker last year.”
Fans should have no problem agreeing that Maxwell Smith isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback. Smith is the best option they have this season, but freshman Patrick Towles is poised to be a big-time SEC quarterback for Kentucky in due time.
Various comments from other coaches on the personnel this season, claiming the skill positions aren’t up to par for the Southeastern Conference should be taken lightly. When you compare them to other elite SEC teams like Alabama, LSU, or even Florida in a down year that may be true. But for Kentucky, coming off the season they had one year ago, Maxwell Smith and CoShik Williams will undoubtedly be improved and help to lead the offense. Kentucky is in no position to be challenging for the SEC title this season, yet these coaches talk like that should be every team’s immediate goal. You’ve got to crawl before you can walk.
As for finding that elite playmaker, Joker Phillips has said repeatedly that he wants to open up the offense and let his young guys go to work. He talks about Demarco Robinson and Daryl Collins at wide receiver as players who can create those “explosion plays” that lead to big momentum-shifting drives. While it is going to be hard to ever fill the void Randall Cobb left at Kentucky, the team is certainly better equipped to do it this season than they were a year ago.
You can finish reading what the SEC coaches had to say about Kentucky at AthlonSports.com. You can also see what they thought about the rest of the conference. And Ole Miss… yikes.