#60 Kentucky Football Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

Overall Rank #60
#11 SEC

Kentucky Logo

Kentucky Team Page

2010 Record: (6-7, 2-6)
2010 Bowl: BBVA Compass Bowl vs Pittsburgh (L 10-27)
Coach: Joker Phillips
Offensive Coordinator: Randy Sanders
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Brown, Rick Minter

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Donald Russell, RB, 293
Passing: Morgan Newton, QB, 265
Receiving: La’Rod King, WR, 478
Tackles: Danny Trevathan, LB, 144
Sacks: Danny Trevathan, LB, 3
Interceptions: Winston Guy, SS, 3

Other Key Returners: OT Larry Warford, LB Ronnie Sneed, LB Ridge Wilson, CB Randall Burden, CB Anthony Mosley, FS Mychal Bailey

Key Losses: WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke, QB Mike Hartline, WR Chris Mattews, DT Ricky Lumpkin

Joker Phillips had what most teams would consider a sensational first season reaching a bowl game even after playing through the beefed up SEC, but in his eyes the thumping at the hands of Pittsburgh 27-10 in the BBVA Compass Bowl put a vinegar flavor on his tongue.  Losing quarterback Mike Hartline and wide receiver Randall Cobb on offense hurts, but there is reason for optimism this season with seven starters returning on defense and several young players on offense with big play ability.  

The strength of the Kentucky Wildcats this season hinges on how the defense plays early in the season allowing time for the offense to gel and find ways to score.  Defensively the Wildcats are led by SEC leading tackler Danny Trevathan.  He flirted with the NFL draft but finally decided that one more season would only enhance his draft position.  In the secondary all four starters are back led by cornerback Winston Guy who at times plays linebacker in a hybrid role helping control the run.   On the offensive side of the ball running back Raymond Sanders is the next star in the waiting.  Sanders is not the speedster like running back Derrick Locke, but he had moments of greatness last season when given the opportunity.  Sanders gained some much needed weight that will only help with the treacherous schedule of the SEC.  At wide receiver La’Rod King and Brian Adams, who doubles as a Wildcat baseball player, give quarterback Morgan Newton big targets with lots of athletic ability to make the spectacular play when needed.  Newton is big at 6’4, 235, but lots of work will be needed to achieve the expectations of the coaching staff.  He can be a very dangerous dual threat quarterback that can only open up the whole field for others, but there are lots of “ifs” involved.  The offensive line is solid, returning four of five starters, helping stabilize what they can for offensive success.

Kentucky will have a microscope on its offense all season.  They are replacing all the key positions on offense and that does not bode well for early season success, which can translate into a team falling apart as the season goes forward if not careful.  Newton has a big upside but in the BBVA Compass Bowl he started after quarterback Mike Hartline was suspended and was average at best, completing 21-36 passes for 211 and carried 12 times for 18 yards in the Wildcats loss to Pittsburgh.  The defensive line has moments of greatness but also extreme thoughts of concern.  Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble are considered the best talents on the line but both have had problems off the field, questioning their maturity.  Linebackers Travathan and Ronnie Sneed can only go as fall as the line can help them holding their ground up front.  On special teams everybody is a new face in the starting lineup.  As most know, special teams can lose games for you in tight situations, and the Wildcats still have a lot of decisions to make in an attempt to lock up an advantage on special teams.  

The Bottom Line:
Unlike the days of old, Kentucky has been contending for a bowl year in and year out the past decade. But for Coach Phillips to make the next step, contending for league championships, he will need to find a better level of consistency at the high level he expects.  Incoming freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith form Granada Hills, CA, is a star ready for the chance at stardom.  He is 6’4 225 and some expect him to challenge Newton for the starting quarterback position by midseason.  Coach Phillips’ expectations are roof high, after spending fifteen years of his life with Kentucky as a player, assistant, and now as a head coach.  Average football will no longer be a staple at Kentucky as long as Coach Phillips has his foot to the pedal of his expectations for his beloved Wildcats.

Projected Bowl: None

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 158.5 (53 in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 269.3 (23, 2)
Total Offense: 427.9 (27, 4)
Scoring Offense: 31.2 (34, 5)
Rushing Defense: 177.1 (85, 11)
Pass Defense: 177.1 (14, 4)
Total Defense: 354.2 (45, 6)
Scoring Defense: 28.4 (72, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.31 (75, 10)

Read another article about Kentucky football