#68 Kentucky Football 2014 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

Overall Rank: #68
SEC Rank: #14

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No one has had it tougher in the SEC than the Wildcats of Kentucky over the last few seasons.  It is never easy to play in a conference with Alabama, LSU, and Georgia among others.  The last few seasons have wrought a winless conference schedule and only four wins combined.  There is a lot of work to do in Lexington.  Mark Stoops, coming off his first season at the helm, appears to be the man to turn things around.  The Kentucky faithful are optimistic as his tenure enters the second year.

2013 Record: (2-10, 0-8)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Mark Stoops (2-10 at Kentucky, 2-10 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Neal Brown
Defensive Coordinator: D.J. Eliot

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jojo Kemp, RB, 482 yards
Passing: Maxwell Smith, QB, 1,276 yards
Receiving: Javess Blue, WR, 586 yards
Tackles: Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE, 61
Sacks: Alvin Dupree, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Ashley Lowery, CB, 1

Other Key Returnees: DE Za’Darius Smith, DT Cory Johnson, WR Demarco Robinson, OT Darian Miller

Key Losses: RB Raymond Sanders, QB Jalen Whitlow, DT Donte Rumph, DT Mister Cobble, LB Avery Williamson

The strength for Kentucky comes with their two down defensive ends Alvin Dupree and Za’Darius Smith.  Combined they accounted for 13 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.  They create mismatches for offensive lines and could be one of the more prolific tandems in the country.  There is also a good stable of running backs for the offense to work with.  They lose Raymond Sanders, but Jojo Kemp returns and Josh Clemons is back from injury.  There are also a couple of transfers, Demitrious Davis and Braylon Heard, who will figure into the mix as well.  Stoops will have a lot of options to keep his running backs fresh.  It will provide versatility on offense as well.

Overall, the depth on this team is not spectacular.  There are some bright-spot players here and there, but who is going to step up if Javess Blue has a poor outing?  Is there a game breaker in the secondary that can flip field position?  More than anything, Kentucky will need to avoid injuries as much as possible.  Beyond their starters, it remains to be seen if replacements can step in and fill a vacant spot.  Kentucky has also had trouble locking down the quarterback spot over the last few seasons.  No one has been able to step in and seize control and carry it over year to year.  Jalen Whitlow was an experienced player, but he transferred this offseason.  One of these guys is going to have to step up prove he is worthy of starting opening weekend.

The Bottom Line:
Not much can be realistically expected of Kentucky this season.  That being said, the future does look markedly brighter for the Wildcats than it did just two seasons ago.  Stoops comes from a coaching family that has generally had success in the college ranks.  If nothing else, Kentucky fans have to be happy with the recruiting job Stoops has done in his short time in Lexington.  He boosted a recruiting class from #60 to #29 (according to Rivals) in just two months after getting the job in 2012.  In his first full offseason, he has a Top 25 class heading into 2014.  They may not make it to the upper echelon of the conference anytime soon, but it looks like their winless SEC records will be a thing of the past in the near future.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 147.9 (85th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 193.3 (98, 10)
Total Offense: 341.2 (107, 13)
Scoring Offense: 20.5 (107, 13)
Rushing Defense: 197.3 (93, 12)
Pass Defense: 229.8 (64, 10)
Total Defense: 427.2 (91, 13)
Scoring Defense: 31.2 (89, 13)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (61, 9)
Sacks: 1.92 (71, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 3.08 (114, 14)

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#171 Stanley Williams
#191 Drew Barker


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