The long, long wait from November 30th, 2013 is almost over and we will see the football team back in action once again today. All signs point to a better product on the field in year two under Coach Stoops with the Cats looking to start the year on a high note against UT-Martin.
The Cats could kick-off the season with a major beat-em-down that fills the fanbase with confidence for the rest of the year. Or they could come out flat and show that they still have a long way to go before they are rebuilt into a contender. Against UT-Martin the out come is likely the former but let’s break down the best-case and worst-case scenarios for this season’s debut.
Last year the Skyhawks were bombarded by FBS competition Boise State and Memphis by a combined score of 84-20. Kentucky delivers a similar beating for 2014 as they roll to a 49-7 victory. Patrick Towles looks fantastic by throwing for 3 touchdowns to Ryan Timmons, Steven Borden, and Javess Blue. Mark Stoops gets his back-up QB, Reese Phillips, some reps and he adds a TD of his own late in the game.
The running back corps racks up major yardage with Braylon Heard tallying his first 100 yard game for the Blue and White. Boom Williams showcases his explosiveness by running back a punt while, Jojo, Josh Clemons and Mikel Horton all rack up some yards on good carries.
Za’Darius Smith is once again the nation’s sack leader heading into week two. His old friend, QB Dylan Favre, is never able to get into rhythm as he throws a pick 6 and the team struggles most of the game to get past the 50.
Calling the Cats improved is an understatement.
The Cats look out of sync as they piddle their way to a 21-14 victory. The receivers continue to have issues reeling the ball in along with Towles missing some wide-open guys.
The running backs look good but have issues with ball control as they give up 2 fumbles in the red zone a la Alabama last season. Kentucky gets bit by the injury bug in the first game of the season with a few key players going down so they won’t be able to play against Vandy or Florida in a handful of weeks.
The Cats don’t show the improvements Mark Stoops was expecting.
The Likely Outcome
Against Alabama State last season the Cats rolled to a 48-14 victory. Alabama State appears to be better competition than UT-Martin and the Cats are much improved from last season. It’s a safe bet that Kentucky cruises to an easy win with young playmakers getting some early clips for the highlight reel. The back-ups should get plenty of clock late in the game and the Cats start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2011.
How do you think the Cats are going to look today?