Over at Team Speed Kills, an SEC football blog, they took a look at some of the knowns and unknowns for Kentucky heading into the 2011 football campaign. One of the ‘things we know’ about the Cats is that Morgan Newton will be leading the offense, but even that probably also qualifies as an unknown because he is unproven as a starter:
1.is the quarterback, for better or worse.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “Newton is an impressive physical specimen, especially for a quarterback.” Morgan is certainly no Cameron, but at 6’4″ and 235 lbs, the Wildcat signal caller has the size to be a top flight quarterback. Of course if size was all that mattered,would have made an awesome pocket slinger. Newton earned praise from Joker Phillips for his growth as a passer this spring, with the head coach describing his quarterback’s improvement as “night and day” versus last year. That’s a critical thing to hear, as Newton has been uneven tossing the ball around. He must show that improvement this fall.
Replacing the production of Locke, Cobb and Hartline is one of the main questions that Kentucky will have to find an answer for during the season. The others, however, have to do with defense. Like, whether one will actually exist and what effect Rick Minter will have on it…
3. The effect of Rick Minter.
Steve Brown hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as Kentucky’s defensive coordinator over the past few years, so Phillips brought in Minter to be the co-coordinator for this fall. Minter is the winningest head coach inhistory, and his coaching tree includes Rex Ryan, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, Jimbo Fisher, and… Joker Phillips. He’s got coaching bona fides, and he’s primarily responsible for the multiple front schemes UK will run this season. Perhaps the best test is seeing how his new 4-2-5 package will work, with it designed to exploit the quality of the secondary while downplaying inexperience at linebacker. It sounds good in theory, but it’s likely only to work well if the front four get better.
The early returns seem to indicate that both Newton and Minter are having a positive impact on their sides of the ball. There’s a long way to go until the season kicks off, but if both of them continue to trend up as it approaches and others step up when the time comes, Kentucky should improve, as well.