Saturday, August 16, 2008

Will Kentucky Repeat '07 Excitement?

Kentucky players celebrated a lot of TDs

SEC East #5 Kentucky Wildcats


2007 Results and Offseason
Kentucky was the center of the college football universe for two straight weeks last year hosting LSU and Florida. QB Andre Woodson has moved onto the NFL and UK named OC Joker Phillips as the replacement when HC Rich Brooks retires.

2007 Record: 8-5, 3-5
Ret. Starters: 12
Ret. Lettermen: 57
Off PPG 31.1 (4th) RYPG 116.3 (11th) PYPG 288.4 (1st)
Def PPG 34.5 (12th) RYPG 200.3 (10th) PYPG 206.5 (7th)

Offense (4 RS 26 RL)
It was thought Curtis Pulley would take over for Woodson, but he decided not to follow the law and was dismissed from the team. Soph Michael Hartline will take over at QB. Hartline threw just six passes LY and one was an INT. Kentucky had a very good group of receivers LY but lost three of the top four. Dicky Lyons, Jr is the leading returner as a possession receiver with deceptive speed. UK had a tough time running the ball last year, but hopefully with three returning o-linemen and healthy Derrick Locke the Wildcats can improve. Senior Tony Dixon will split time with Locke at RB.

Defense (8 RS 27 RL)
The Wildcats return eight of the top nine tacklers, but that one loss is huge in LB Wesley Woodyard. Woodyard nearly doubled the output of the #2 tackler (CB Trevard Lindley). Lindley is an All-SEC candidate coming off an 11 pass break up season. Even with Woodyard's departure, the LB corp should be strong again with Michal Johnson stepping in (58 tkl LY). Both the d-line and secondaries have three starters back each and should be improved with most of the two deep also returning. DE Jeremy Jarmon had 9 sacks a year ago.

Special Teams
Both the kicker and punter return. PK Lones Seiber struggled last year hitting just 16-25 including a huge miss against Tennessee. Keenan Burton is gone from KR and Rafael Little from PR. Dicky Lyons may handle both.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
UK starts off with in-state rival @Lville. Also vNorfolk St, vMTSU, and vW. Kentucky in the non-conf. From the West, @Miss St., @Alab, vArkansas. Kentucky has a bye on Sept 20 but plays eight straight before a bye on Nov 15.

Final Thoughts
Kentucky had an exciting 2007 season led by Heisman candidate Woodson. However, UK finished just 3-5 in the SEC and was outscored by 3 points per game. The offense has a lot to replace and losing Pulley, who battled with Woodson two years ago, does not help. I think getting back to a bowl will be challenging, but is very possible.

Prediction
Likely Wins: vNorfolk St, vMTSU, vW. Kent.
Likely Loss: @UF, vUGA, @Alab
6-6, 2-6

Next Up SEC West #4

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