2011 Pre-Season Preview: Kentucky Wildcats

2010 Record: (6-7, 2-6 in SEC)

Head Coach: Joker Phillips (6-7 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2010 Compass Bowl (lost to Pitt 27-10)

2010 Preview

 

CFBZ Kentucky Links

2010 Exit Survey

Pre-Spring All SEC Team

Spring Football Questions: SEC East

Returning SEC Offensive Firepower

 

Schedule

9/1: Western Kentucky (2010 result: won 63-28)

9/10: Central Michigan

9/17: Louisville (2010 result: won 23-16)

9/24: Florida (2010 result: lost 48-14)

10/1: at LSU

10/8: at South Carolina  (2010 result: won 31-28)

10/22: Jacksonville State

10/29: Mississippi State (2010 result: lost 24-17)

11/5: Ole Miss (2010 result: lost 42-35)

11/12: at Vanderbilt (2010 result: won 38-20)

11/19: at Georgia (2010 result: lost 44-31)

11/26: Tennessee (2010 result: lost 24-14)


2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 31.2 ppg (5th in SEC, 34th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 158.54 yds/game (7th in SEC, 52nd in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 269.3 yds/game (2nd in SEC, 23rd in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 427.8 yds/game (4th in SEC, 27th in Nation)

 

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 28.4 ppg (10th in SEC, 72nd in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 177.08 yds/game (11th in SEC, 85th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 177.1 yds/game (4th in SEC, 14th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 354.2 yds/game (6th in SEC, 44th in Nation)

 

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.31 per game (10th in SEC, 75th in Nation)

Penalties: 45.9 yds/game (7th in SEC, 38th in Nation)

 

Returning Starters:

Offense: 6

Defense: 10

Kicker/Punter: 2

 

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Morgan Newton, Jr (25 of 43 for 265 yds)

Rushing: RB Raymond Sanders, Soph (68 for 254 yds, 3 TD)

Receiving: WR La’Rod King, Jr (36 rec for 478 yds, 5 TD)

Tackles: LB Danny Trevathan, Sr (144)

Sacks: DT Taylor Wyndham, Jr (2.5)

Interceptions: LB Winston Guy, Sr (3)

 

Bowl Predictions:

Athlon Sports: Compass (vs South Florida)

Phil Steele: None

 

Last year Kentucky started out strong by beating rival Louisville and taking their first three games. From there it was mostly downhill as the Wildcats finished the season 3-7 with the bright spot being a win over South Carolina (who was the #10 team in the country at the time). Joker Phillips finished up his rookie season 6-7 overall but only 2-6 in the SEC and this year looks on paper like it might be a bit tougher with the loss of offensive leaders Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke, Chris Matthews and Mike Hartline. The good news is that the Wildcats return a ton of guys on defense. The season probably rests on how well they can replace all of the missing yardage on the offensive side of the football. We talked to Glenn Logan from SB Nation’s Kentucky based blog A Sea of Blue to get a local perspective on the 2011 Kentucky Wildcats. 

 

We talked in our Exit Survey about who will step up and replace Mike Hartline and Randall Cobb this year. What about replacing Derrick Locke? Who steps up and totes the rock for Kentucky this year?

Raymond Sanders will be stepping into Locke’s shoes.  The sophomore saw plenty of time in relief of Locke last year as a freshman, and has a very similar game.  He is small, fast, and has good hands like Locke, and should be able to deliver decent numbers.

It looks like Sanders will be backed up by Johnathan George and CoShik Williams right now, both smaller, faster tailbacks.  The big question will be who will replace Moncell Allen at fullback.  Allen, and John Conner before him, were a huge part of Kentucky’s running game with their fantastic blocking.  Who replaces them?  Not sure yet.

 

Kentucky was 10th in the SEC in points allowed last year. Who are some guys that need to step up this year if the defense is to improve?

Well, with Danny Travathan and Winston Guy back as seniors, you have to figure that will help some.  Collins Ukwu and Taylor Windham showed promise as pass rushers from the end spot, so if we can get some improvement out of those guys, it will help a lot.  Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble have been slow coming along, but both got their feet wet last year and have talent.

The linebacking corps should be better this year with a mature likely all-league player in Travathan, and improving Ronnie Sneed and capable backups in Qua Huzzie and Avery Williamson.  The movement of Winston Guy to a hybrid linebacker/safety position also looks to shore up run defense.

In the defensive backfield, Martavious Neloms, Randall Burden, and Mychal Bailey are all guys with experience.  They have all shown flashes of ability that should be more consistent this year.

 

Who are some newcomers that have a chance to step up and make an impact this year?

Glenn Faulkner is a highly ranked recruit that should add instant depth to the defensive backfield, and could be seeing starter’s minutes by the end of the year.  Look for Marcus Caffey or Josh Clemmons to make their way into the rotation in the backfield, possibly at fullback.

Theltus “Bookie” Cobbins is another name to watch.  He is a skilled dual-threat quarterback who could wind up playing in the Wildcat formation.

 

What are the biggest reasons to be optimistic about Kentucky football this year?

  • An outstanding offensive line.  Some experts have UK’s offensive line as the best in the SEC
  • A more experienced defense.  UK has more talent on the D-line this year, and more experience.  It should be much better
  • Depth at wide receiver.  Kentucky has a ton of options at WR, and if some of these guys live up to their potential, Morgan Newton should have a plethora of targets.
  • New co-defensive coordinator.  Kentucky’s defense has no place to go but up, and Rick Minter seems ready to trot out some new defensive schemes;

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?

  • Versus Louisville in Commonwealth Stadium on Sept 10th.– this is a critical OOC contest for Kentucky, and our most bitter rival.  Lose this game, and the SEC grind can send the Wildcats right into a losing season.  This is by far the most important single game on Kentucky’s schedule.
  • Versus Florida in Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 24th. — Florida has a ridiculous 24-game winning streak against Kentucky, but comes to town with a new coach and a new scheme.  This may be Kentucky’s best chance to end that streak for the foreseeable future.
  • Versus Ole Miss in Commonwealth Stadium on November 5th — Ole Miss is rebuilding and presents one of the few real opportunities for Kentucky in the SEC this year, and getting them at home is too good an opportunity for a conference win for UK to miss.
  • Versus Tennessee in Commonwealth Stadium on November 26th — If you think Florida’s winning streak is long, Tennessee’s is even longer at 25 games — last year was literally the silver anniversary of the streak.   It needs to die, and getting the Volunteers in Lexington should help.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

My gut feeling right now is 6-6.  Kentucky has a new quarterback and lost vast chunks of their offense and special teams in Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.

 

Next Preview: Iowa State

Coming in August: SEC Preview

Coming in August: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown

 

2011 Team Previews

ACC- Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Wake Forest

Big 12- Baylor ,Kansas St, Texas Tech

Big East- Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, USF

Big Ten- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota ,Northwestern, Penn St, Purdue

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston ,Marshall, SMU, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, UAB, UCF

Independent- Army

MAC- Akron, Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo ,Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan

MWC- Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming

Pac-12- Arizona , Oregon St, UCLA, Washington

SEC- Ole Miss

Sun Belt- FAU, FIU, Louisiana, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy , ULM, Western Kentucky

WAC- Fresno St, Idaho, San Jose St

Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, writer for Crystal Ball Run and founder of College Football Zealots

Quantcast