Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homer Preview: The Wildcats Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we've asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Ryan Ebalhar, UK supporter, student, legend.

Homer Preview: Kentucky Wildcats

What you need to know: The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off of arguably their most successful season since 1977, and their best 2 seasons in a row since the 1951-52 seasons where a Bear Bryant coached team beat the #1 ranked and undefeated Oklahoma Sooners in the 1951 Sugar Bowl and TCU in the 1952 Cotton Bowl. Last year Kentucky beat a top 10 team (Louisville) for the first time since 1977, and a #1 team (LSU) for the first time since 1964, in addition to beating Florida State in the Music City Bowl to win 2 consecutive bowl games since 1952.

Unfortunately, a lot of that success came from a strong senior class. Absent this season will be QB Andre Woodson, RB Rafael Little, TE Jacob Tamme, WRs Keenan Burton and Stevie Johnson, andLB Wesley Woodyard. Woodson set the SEC record for most TDs in a season last year, Johnson and Burton were 1 and 2 for touchdowns in the SEC last year, and Woodyard led the SEC in tackles.

Kentucky will be going with a largely untested quarterback in Mike Hartline. His college career isn't exactly impressive to this point, he has thrown a total of 6 passes in college, with 4 completions and 1 interception. He'll be passing to senior Dicky Lyons Jr., who has shown spurts of greatness and should have a breakout year, and senior Demoreo Ford. The running game should be strong, with Senior Tony Dixon, Junior Alfonso Smith, and sophomores Moncell Allen and Derrick Locke

However, the normally weak Kentucky defense should be abnormally strong. Senior Braxton Kelley and Junior Micah Johnson are expected to fill Woodyard's shoes very nicely in the linebacker spot, withFS Marcus McClinton and CB Trevard Lindley expected to improve the 24th ranked passing defense.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
RB Derrick Locke: 521 yds, 5 TD
WR Dicky Lyons: 56 rec., 655 yds, 7 TD
CB Trevard Lindley: 3 INT, 66 tkls, 3 TFL, 11 pass break ups

Game to Watch: The game against South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium is the one to watch. Coach Steve Spurrier is 15-0 against the Wildcats, but this season may finally be the one where Kentucky gets the best of him. While UK may be on a downswing after last season, the Gamecocks appeared to get worse and worse as the season progressed last season.

They'll Do Well If: Mike Hartline can pass as accurately as Andre Woodson. Woodson threw 40 TDs and had a QB rating of 144.5 last year. If Hartline can come close to that than the Cats will be quite successful. If Hartline turns out like Shane Boyd, well than lets hope Ryan Mossawski is as good as the scouts say he is next year.

Season Outlook: Look for another bowl game this year, with a 6-6 record most likely. UK will not beat Georgia, Florida, or Tennessee, but the other 9 games are either locks or toss ups. If UK plays their best, 8 wins isn't out of the realm of possibility, if they revert to their normal ways, look for a 3-4 win season.

1 comment:

Alan said...

This is going to be a tough year for the Cats. 7-5 is doable, and I'll be thrilled with it. 6-6 is realistic. Nice write up Ryan!