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SEC Football Preview: Kentucky
Kentucky Sports Report
Posted Jul 17, 2011
The Kentucky Wildcats will be a team with a much different look than in recent years. The Wildcats lost major contributors in Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and Mike Hartline on the offensive side of the ball. While that is a lot of touchdowns and yardage missing from the Wildcats’ squad, there are returnees on the offensive side of the ball who will be able to make some noise.
is picked to finish No. 5 in the SEC East by Scout.com publishers/writers.
The Wildcats are in a rare position at quarterback, losing a three-year starter, but returning a quarterback with valuable starting experience in SEC play. Kentucky will look to junior quarterback
to carry a big load on the offense not only as the main cog of the passing game, but also as the leader of the offense. Newton has a big arm and knowledge of the offense, but what is most impressive is that he’s improved his downfield touch on his throws and his short passing game as well.
Questions in the passing game for the Wildcats come from the wide receiver spots. While they have a couple of players returning who have significant playing time in the SEC in junior
, the Wildcats will rely on some inexperienced players like redshirt sophomore
and some incoming freshmen for depth. Adams had a great game in the Blue-White scrimmage and looks to be a star in the making, but consistency will be the question for this group as a whole as well as Adams individually.
Kentucky also returns an experienced offensive line. Senior guard
leads the way at one guard, while
will take up space on the opposite side of the field. Matt Smith returns at center after an excellent year anchoring the middle of the Wildcat line. The questions come on the outside where
will return from injury in the spring and
Billy Joe Murphy
will step in at right tackle after swinging all over the field last season. If this group can hold its own and open holes for the running backs, it will make the Wildcats that much more effective.
And with the running game, Kentucky will be breaking in a new starter with this inexperienced unit. While
is gone, the Wildcats do return a lot of talent with sophomore
, redshirt freshman
and redshirt sophomore
. All three made splashes in the spring, but Sanders looks to be the starter going into the summer with freshmen
getting the opportunity to earn playing time as well.
On the defensive side of the ball the Wildcats lost four-year contributor
. The Cats do have talented young players who could develop into better pass rushers and run stoppers. And they return virtually all production from the linebackers and defensive backs.
Additionally the Wildcats will play more of a 4-2-5 defense this season with hybrid linebackers and pass rushers. New Co-Defensive Coordinator, Rick Minter, came away encouraged by what he saw from this group and believes it has a chance to play well on the defensive side of the ball.
On the defensive line Kentucky will have a young group of players led by junior defensive end
who had a great spring.
is an undersized defensive tackle who may swing back out to the outside at defensive end next season, with improvement from sophomore
and redshirt freshman
will also provide depth on the defensive line.
look like they’ll anchor the linebackers. Trevathan was one of the best linebackers in the nation and looks like a perfect fit for Minter’s attacking style of defense.
will spend time as a rush end and as a linebacker.
, who started at safety last season, will also play a significant role at linebacker, but can also cover in the passing game.
At defensive back the Wildcats have moved
from corner to safety where he can use his physical nature more in run support. Replacing Winston Guy at safety is sophomore
who had a good spring as a starter.
returns at one corner where he’s the most experienced defensive back on the Wildcat team. The other corner is
, who played a lot last season as the nickel back.
While the Wildcats are a very young team this year, the athleticism is steadily improving and the new system in place on the defensive side of the ball should take some of the predictability out of the Wildcat game plan each week.
SEC Football Preview: Tennessee
Jul 13, 2011
SEC Football Preview: Florida
Jul 3, 2011
SEC Football Preview: Georgia
Jun 3, 2011
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