ESPN’s Greg Ostendorf is breaking down each SEC team’s bowl chances and yesterday, focused on Kentucky. Ostendorf gave three reasons why Kentucky WILL make a bowl game this season and two reasons why they WON’T. Here’s his breakdown with a few excerpts:
Why they will
- Quarterback competition (I disagree with Ostendorf that there actually is a competition. I think Stoops is technically keeping it going to keep both players on their toes, but the job is Patrick’s.)
- Emerging playmakers: With two capable quarterbacks and four starters returning on the offensive line, the Kentucky offense should be pretty good this fall. It just needs a couple of playmakers to step up, and Stanley “Boom” Williams and Ryan Timmons are the perfect candidates. Williams came on late last season and wound up leading the team in rushing with 486 yards on 74 carries. Timmons, the team’s leading receiver, showed flashes of brilliance last season, but lacked consistency. If those two can put it together — and new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson should help with that — the Wildcats will be in good shape.
- Manageable schedule
Why they won’t
- No Dupree or Smith: Kentucky’s defense was supposed to be one of its strengths last season, but it finished No. 95 nationally in scoring defense, allowing 31.3 points per game. To make matters worse, last season’s group lost its two best players — Bud Dupreeand Za’Darius Smith — to the NFL. The coaches hope Jason Hatchercan fill the void left by Dupree, but replacing a player who had 12.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks is never easy. At this point, the Wildcats might be deeper on that side of the ball, but there’s no proof yet that they will be better. And they need to be better.
- A losing culture
That last one depressed me, so I didn’t include it. To read it and the rest of Ostendorf’s reasoning, click here.