Well, hello there. I’m back.
I’m both excited and nervous about rejoining the Kentucky Sports Radio team. Tyler told me that banging out a blog post would be as easy as getting back on a bicycle. She’s kinda right, but please bear with me as I am in preseason form.
I love the University of Kentucky. Always have, always will. I’ve missed writing on the site and The Depth Chart Podcast, but most of all, I’ve missed interacting with the Big Blue Nation, which has yet again proved to be the best fanbase in collegiate athletics.
Here’s how it all went down: I texted Matt during the Governor’s Cup and told him that I wanted to get back in the game. He graciously agreed. We spoke yesterday and here we are. I’ll be playing catch up to provide analysis for December’s National Signing Day and the bowl game before settling back into the KSR podcast rotation.
This season has been fun to watch from afar. I caught most of the games between traveling soccer matches but haven’t studied analytics or statistics like I have in previous years. With that said, here are my five takeaways from the 2019 season:
1. 2019 is Mark Stoops’ best work to date. Despite Terry Wilson’s injury and losing all-time greats, the Cats are 7-5, retained the Governor’s Cup in convincing fashion, and have made bowl games an annual tradition. The season could have easily come unhinged after a 2-3 start and questions at the quarterback position; however, Stoops and Eddie Gran never wavered from their plan and righted the offensive ship by completely overhauling the Wildcats’ scheme to churn out an SEC-best 274 rushing yards per game.
2. Defensive coordinator Brad White is a rising star. White took over for Matt House minus a complete secondary and an all-timer in Josh Allen. Add in Davonte Robinson’s injury and the absence of defensive tackle Phil Hoskins and the odds were stacked against the first-time play caller. He delivered, and did so in an extraordinary manner. Kentucky actually improved its total defense by allowing 16 fewer yards per game.
3. Lynn Bowden was the nation’s most dynamic player in the last quarter of the season. If he doesn’t win The Hornung Award…well, the trophy should be permanently trashed in a bucket full of wadded up fan votes. Bowden was a leader. He talked the talk, then walked the walk. Respect.
4. Guard Logan Stenberg is one of UK’s top five offensive guards that I’ve seen play in person and now joins the ranks of Dermontti Dawson, Todd Perry, Joel Mazzella, and Larry Warford. Lynn Bowden will be missed. So will Logan Stenberg. The former three-star recruit is yet another example of Stoops’ ability to evaluate and develop top-level personnel as Kentucky was his only Power 5 offer. *Please note that Bunchy Stallings is in this category but his place in UK history will be addressed in a future post.
5. The Big Dog is eating. Vince Marrow’s post-Governor’s Cup remarks were deadly accurate. I paraphrase, ‘At some point, you got to play the game.’ Vince is on the road and in the air fresh off a rivalry win. 2020 is setting up to be Kentucky’s best class in modern history.
BONUS: The Kentucky staff is the best collection of coaches in 50 years. Yes, I said it. Yes, I meant it. Collectively, this group recruits and develops better than any that I have witnessed or been a part of in the program’s history. More on that to follow.
BONUS II: Max Duffy is the best punter in the nation.
BONUS III: Defensive lineman Calvin Taylor finished 2nd in the SEC with 7.5 quarterback sacks. Taylor was a zero, or two-star at best, prospect. The Southeastern Conference QB Sack category is historically a coveted measurement, much like the rushing yards champion was in conference history. Amazing.
BONUS IV: I should have listed ten observations, but I promise this is the last point I’ll make. Eighteen-plus returning starters, redshirting the entire 2019 class, and the return of Terry Wilson gives the BBN a great deal to be excited about. I’m honored to go along on this journey with you. Let’s ride.
Thanks for taking the time to reading this post. I can’t wait to dust off the cobwebs and get back to work. Go Cats!