8 Days. Only 8 day remain between now and the rebirth of Kentucky Football. We know who is going to be suiting up on the 31st, we know who’s going to be calling the shots, we know the brutal schedule we’re going to face. It’s time to play some football. Folks from all over the world wide internets took time to weigh in on the Cat’s outlook for this season. Let’s see what they had to say:
Stoops takes over a team that was awful in almost every way in 2012. In addition to losing every single, solitary SEC football game they played (including a 40-0 curb stomping at the hands of Vanderbilt for Heaven’s sake) , they also fell to Western Kentucky and Louisville. No SEC team’s showcase victory should be over Kent State, even in a year such as 2012 in which Kent State actually fielded a football team that nearly made it into the BCS.
Mark Stoops has already made some waves on the recruiting trail where he has the Wildcats sitting higher in the recruiting rankings than they have been since Bear Bryant’s assistants were fanning out with horse money in one pocket and bourbon in the other. He even coaxed a record crowd of over 51,000 to attend the Blue and White game. Or whatever it is they call the Kentucky spring game. Hell, half the people in attendance probably didn’t know themselves. But they were more excited than a fat kid who happens upon an abandoned ice cream truck, and you have to give the Stoops troops credit for that. Now comes the hard part: actually winning football games.
Kentucky’s offense put up the fewest points in the SEC a season ago, scoring just 17.9 ppg on 315.0 ypg. Stoops brought in former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown to run the unit with the hopes of implementing a similar run-and-gun style that the Red Raiders employ.
The new regime is still assessing its situation under center, with Jalen Whitlow, Maxwell Smith […] duking it out for the starting job. All three saw action last season, with Smith (.687 completion percentage, 975 yards, eight TDs, four interceptions) being the most impressive.
No returning receiver had more than 300 yards in 2012. Demarco Robinson will act as the No. 1 wideout on the depth chart and an increased number of targets should allow him to improve upon a lackluster 2012 campaign (28 rec, 297 yards).
A more experienced secondary last year ranked in the bottom half of the SEC and early indications are that Stoops is concerned with the lack of talent in this year’s group. S Ashely Lowery returns, but there is a potential for a revolving door of new faces in the rest of the Kentucky secondary. Lowery is likely the only mainstay. CB Cody Quinn looked like a good bet to start. An ankle injury midway through August camp has limited him recently, so it remains to be seen if he will be healthy enough to go at the start of the season. Fred Tiller is a leading candidate to fill the other CB role. CBs Nate Willis, Blake McClain and Jaleel Hytche are also in the mix for additional playing time. S Eric Dixon has reportedly earned the nod as Lowery’s back-line mate. As Jennifer Smith from The Lexington Herald-Leader pointed out recently, perhaps the most staggering statistic came on third downs. The Wildcats allowed a 72.5 percent completion rate. When Will We Know? Pretty much immediately. Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino will want to make any SEC team on his path pay for the four conference teams who replaced their coaches not so much as giving him the time of day. The Wildcats were one of those teams. As coincidence has it, the Hilltoppers play Kentucky in Week 1. Petrino’s reputation as a quarterback groomer makes this matchup intriguing — and the Hilltoppers won last year. Then, two weeks later, the Cats take on Louisville and all-America passer QB Teddy Bridgewater. A young secondary had better grow up fast.
Basically everybody is saying what we have already grown to believe. The offense is going to be better and more important its going to be actually fun to watch. The defense is going to struggle but I’m still holding out hope they will be better than ground floor expectations we have coming into the season. No matter what happens this year though the excitement level for UK football has never been this high and it’s finally time to suit up. I’ll see you in Nashville next Saturday. Go Cats.