We’re prepping for 2012 with some help from SBNation. Glenn Logan from A Sea of Blue helps us preview Kentucky.
Kentucky is optimistic to get back on the winning track and earn their first bowl berth since 2010. The road will be tough, however, traveling to The Swamp to take on a resurgent Florida program (Sept. 22) before returning to Lexington to host South Carolina (Sept. 29) and Mississippi State (Oct. 6). They close out the season in Knoxville, where the Wildcats are looking to pick up their first win over the Volunteers since 1984.
2011 Record: 5-7
2011 Bowl: N/A
2012 Bowl Projections:
Orlando Bowl History
Q&A with Glenn Logan from A Sea of Blue
Describe the 2011 season in two words.
Which reloading defensive unit is a greater cause for concern this season: linebackers or secondary?
I’m more concerned about the secondary. The linebacking corps has some genuine talent in Avery Williamson and Alvin Dupree. We do have to worry about depth there, though, because all our linebacker depth is either freshmen or sophomores, and none of them have much time on the field.
The loss of Marcus Caffey, a talented offensive player who switched to cornerback, has left us in the lurch, forcing senior Martavious Neloms back to the corner, where he has been just okay, from safety where he figured to be one of our best defensive players. We are strong enough at safety to make that move — barely — but depth is a much greater concern in the secondary now that Caffey is ineligible. Good passing teams are going to really worry me this year.
UK had a significant drop in passing numbers last year. With a number of young players on offense, how much improvement should be expected in 2012?
Honestly, we just don’t know. We have enough talent at wide receiver to be adequate in the passing game, assuming we can find a quarterback who can deliver the football. A lot also depends on how well the line performs, and the offensive line is really young, particularly at offensive guard.
I am fairly confident there will be improvement, because everybody is a year older and the only significant loss from the receiving corps is Matt Roark, who only really emerged as a threat his senior year. La’Rod King is practicing well, E.J. Fields is finally healthy, we have some decent pass catchers at tight end, and the backs have been showing signs of being able to catch the ball out of the backfield. So we will be better. How much better is a question that has too many variables to answer right now.
Where we are really excited is in the running game. Kentucky brought in two extremely high quality big backs in Justin Taylor and Dy’Shawn Mobley, and they have been impressing the coaches in practice. Joker Phillips has said already that both will play, and that adds to an already 3-deep backfield. If Kentucky is going to shine anywhere on offense, it will be in the running game with four big, strong, punishing backs to go along with edge-turners Raymond Sanders and CoShik Williams.
On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?
Kentucky at South Carolina. We’ve never had any luck in Columbia, and the Gamecocks look particularly good this year. Jadeveon Clowney will be a nightmare for our young O-line, and even though the Gamecocks don’t have Alshon Jeffery around to murder us anymore, Marcus Lattimore is going to be a load even for our quality defensive line. That game just looks like a 40-10 crushing to me.
Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.
Best case is probably 7-5, and that would have to include no less than four upset wins, assuming UK isn’t favored in the Vanderbilt game (which we likely would be if we are actually in the hunt for this record). The really tough part is that Kentucky’s best upset opportunities with the exception of one are road games. 7-5 would probably get us into the Chick-Fil-A bowl, or failing that, the Music City Bowl.
Worst-case is easy. UK wins the three “buy” games against Kent State, Western Kentucky and Samford, and loses every other game. This is actually pretty unlikely, because Kentucky looks good enough to upset somebody down the line, and every year, some SEC team or other that we play comes in vulnerable.
Thank you to Glenn and A Sea of Blue for contributing. The Wildcats have yet to appear in Orlando and we’re eagerly awaiting the magical season that brings them down here.
Big Ten Previews