2008 Kentucky Wildcats Football Preview
UK Wildcats 2007 Record: (8-5, 3-5 SEC)
2007 Bowl: Music City Bowl vs. Florida State (W 35-28)
Kentucky Head Coach: Rich Brooks (25-35 at Kentucky, 116-144-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joker Phillips
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Brown
Returning Leaders for UK:
Other Key Returnees: FB John Conner, G Zipp Duncan, OT Justin Jeffries, LB Braxton Kelley, S Marcus McClinton, DT Corey Peters, DT Myron Pryor, CB Paul Warford, OT Garry Williams, LB Johnny Williams
Key Losses: WR Keenan Burton, WR Steve Johnson, G Jason Leger, DE Dominic Lewis, RB Rafael Little, C Eric Scott, TE Jacob Tamme, S Roger Williams, QB Andre Woodson, LB Wesley Woodyard
Kentucky has had a couple relatively successful seasons due to using the passing game to outscore their opponents. The passing attack will not be as good this year and it is time for the Wildcats to look to their defense to win some games. The secondary will be the leaders of the defense and corners Trevard Lindley and Paul Warford are now upperclassmen and have plenty of experience. Lindley has the potential to be something special and one of the best shutdown corners in the conference.
Kentucky will also look more to the running game this year, and that should not be a problem at all with an experienced offensive line returning. Left tackle Garry Williams has been protecting former quarterback Andre Woodson for the last two seasons. The tackle on the other side, Justin Jeffries, started 13 games last year as a sophomore. Guards Zipp Duncan and Christian Johnson have starting experience and upperclassmen like Jess Beets and Jorge Gonzalez will provide plenty of depth and battle for starting positions. There are even youngsters like center Jake Lanefski and guard Stuart Hines who have been impressive in practice. The Wildcats still need somebody to run the ball. Rafael Little, who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a senior, is gone but there are plenty of other experienced options. Alfonso Smith had the best spring game and averaged over seven yards per carry in limited action last season, but he will still split carries with Derrick Locke, Tony Dixon and Moncell Allen.
Coach Rich Brooks needs his defense and running backs to step up because Woodson and his top two receiving targets are gone. Curtis Pulley and Mike Hartline are the candidates to replace Woodson. Pulley is the more mobile of the two, but Hartline is considered the better passer. Pulley was a highly touted recruit and would bring a running dynamic to the offense that did not exist with Woodson. Either way, the Kentucky offense will be led by an inexperienced quarterback who will not be able to air it out like Woodson. And without receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson and tight end Jacob Tamme, it will not be all the quarterback’s fault when the passing game falters. All three of those pass catchers were drafted in April and finding replacements will not be easy. Luckily, Dicky Lyons is a capable and experienced receiver, but nobody else on the roster is experienced whatsoever.
The Bottom Line for the Wildcats:
In order for the defense to carry this team while the offense is getting adjusted to a whole slew of new skill players, the front four will have to get pressure on the quarterback. Jeremy Jarmon led the team last year with 9.0 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, but he will need some help on the other end from Ventrell Jenkins this year. With Corey Peters and Myron Pryor returning to the tackle spots, the front four should get a little more pressure this year and that will go a long way in helping the defense improve.
2007 Kentucky Wildcats Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 155.46 (55th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 287.92 (19, 1)
Total Offense: 443.38 (24, 3)
Scoring Offense: 36.54 (15, 4)
Rushing Defense: 191.08 (94, 10)
Pass Defense: 206.08 (24, 7)
Total Defense: 397.15 (67, 10)
Scoring Defense: 29.62 (80, 12)
Turnover Margin: -.08 (64, 9)
Sacks: 1.85 (73, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.92 (104, 12)
By Joel Welser
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