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CFN SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UK’s Spring
UK QB Morgan Newton
UK QB Morgan Newton
CollegeFootballNews
Posted Apr 14, 2011


With spring practice winding down, we roll out our last analysis from each team's off-season sessions. CFN's SEC Bloggers give you five different perspectives on some key questions facing the Wildcats this spring. What player's departure hurts the most? Where is the strength this spring? Does Danny Trevathan have any help, and what position is undergoing the biggest overhaul?

SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Ole Miss' Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Auburn's Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Bama’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UT’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UF’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UF’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On USC’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Hogs’ Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On LSU’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UGA’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On MSU’s Spring


All of us at CFN would like to congratulate Brian and Emily on the birth of their first child this week. Many happy returns to the day!

Brian Harbach: On if Danny Trevathan has any help

For teams in the bottom half of the SEC, one player can make the difference between a bowl game and playing in your backyard after Christmas. The teams in the top half are usually one player away from a Championship.

Kentucky has historically been a bottom half team, and without Danny Trevathan the Wildcats would very likely be home this Christmas holiday.

Last year everyone focused on Randall Cobb and the Kentucky offense, and deservedly so. But Danny Trevathan could be considered an even more dominant figure for the Wildcats, though without widespread recognition. Trevathan, the all-everything linebacker for Kentucky, is the best player Kentucky has on the defensive side of the ball bar none - he might be the best defensive player in the conference. But he isn’t alone.

There were eight players last year with a combined 100+ tackles... The SEC leader was Trevathan, but Wildcat Safety Winston Guy had 100+ tackles as well. Guy is the perfect fit at safety and a great compliment to Trevathan.

It is hard not to be overshadowed by the best tackler in the SEC, but Guy ended 2010 with 106 tackles, four TFL’s and three interceptions.

Guy is an enforcer in the secondary and should have another great statistical year for Kentucky. He might not get the credit that his LB counterpart does but the Wildcat defense is not just one man deep.


Billy Gomila: On what position is undergoing the biggest overhaul

Kentucky’s passing game has to replace approximately 3,300 of 3,500 passing yards, two thirds of the receiving yardage total and 18 of 26 touchdowns.

You can blink now.

Who's gone? One of the SEC’s top overall play-makers in Cobb (who even added another 424 yards rushing), the league’s fifth-leading receiver in Chris Matthews, surprising quarterback Mike Hartline and two good pass-catching backs in Derrick Locke and Moncell Allen. Replacing that type of production isn’t easy, even for one of the top schools in this league. So you can imagine the growing pains the Wildcats are looking at.

On the upside, Joker Phillips can devote most of spring practice towards Morgan Newton. The 6-4 junior-to-be has seen spot duty in recent years, even starting a few games in 2009, but has a lot of room to improve. Hartline came out of nowhere last season, so that’s a reason for hope in Lexington.

At receiver, La’Rod King will step into the No. 1 role after catching 36 passes for 478 yards and five scores last season. King, tight end Jordan Aumiller and sophomores Matt Roark and Brian Adams will give Newton a big group of targets to work with.


Barrett Sallee: On who will be the bigger loss, Randall Cobb or Derrick Locke

If we are talking from a pure play-maker perspective, the answer is Cobb, and there really isn’t much of a debate. Cobb was one of the most underrated stars in recent SEC history, and his loss will certainly hurt the Wildcats.

But, with that said, the bigger loss to the Kentucky team is Locke.

Is Locke a better player than Cobb? Probably not. But with Kentucky losing Cobb and starting quarterback Mike Hartline, a consistent running game is something that the Wildcats desperately need, and Locke would have been a nice option to provide that.

He averaged 180.5 carries per season and hovered around 5.0 yards per carry over the last two seasons. In games in which Locke eclipsed 100 yards over that same time span, the Wildcats were 6-2.

It’s overly simplistic, but as with any team, if Kentucky can control the tempo with a solid ground game, it has proven that it can win games. Locke was the man that provided that ground game over the last few years. Kentucky will be hard-pressed to find an adequate replacement, but if they do, it will be huge for the Wildcat offense.


Gabe Harris: On what will be Kentucky’s strength offensively in 2011

First, do they even have one? Hartline, Locke and do everything Cobb are gone. So who’s left? The underrated and experienced offensive line, that’s who.

OL coach Mike Summers returns for his second spring, and four returning starters join him. They finished 2nd in the SEC in sacks allowed, giving up only 19 in 13 games. The Wildcats also finished 4th in the conference in total yards per game, which probably comes as a surprise to a lot of people reading this.

The returning starters are LT Chandler Burden, LG Stuart Hines, C Matt Smith and RG Larry Warford. Burden and Hines are seniors while Smith and Warford are juniors. Senior Billy Joe Murphy will take over at RT for Brad Durham. Murphy started at LT at the endof the season and has started 9 games in his career.

Behind this experience is a lot of depth and versatility as well. Senior Jake Lanefski can play center or guard and will be moved around a lot between those two positions. Lanefski started four games at right guard in 2008.

Teven Eatmon-Nared, a redshirt freshman, is getting a look at LT due to Burden being held out this spring with a shoulder injury. Eatmon-Nared likes to eat, man, as he’s up to 325 pounds on his 6’7” frame after coming to Kentucky as a tight end. Sophomore Kevin Mitchell is having a good offseason as he’s gotten his weight down to 310 pounds and can play multiple positions across the line.

UK will need this offensive line to step up early and often as breaking in a new starting QB, RB and a player with Randall Cobb’s skill set isn’t easy. Having an OL like this one will make the road a lot smoother in Lexington.


Russ Mitchell: On what to expect from Morgan Newton

Newton arrived in Lexington a highly ranked recruit and didn’t disappoint, earning all-SEC freshman honors after filling in for an injured Hartline near mid-season. However, the experience was not enough for him to secure the job full-time in 2010.

He entered spring practice as the clear number one after sophomore Ryan Mossakowski transferred, and with only big freshman Maxwell Smith posing a challenge. Smith is talented, but Newton is clearly the man in charge.

So, absent a slew of talented skill players, how’s Morgan doing? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag so far. He struggled during the Cats first spring practice last Saturday, failing to sustain many drives, and drawing the ire of several coaches.

Newton has all the tools – he’s got a strong arm, agility and speed, and can run out of the backfield if need be. But it’s the nuances of the offense that he’s struggling with right now. While word out of Lexington said the junior-to-be bounced back nicely from the spotty performance, there appears to be a long road in front of him – and a plethora of inexperience beside him.

Not usually the best formula for a successful season.

And lest ye forget, even with all the talent Kentucky has had the past four seasons, including four consecutive bowl appearances, IN CONFERENCE the Cats failed to reach .500 all four years (2010-2007, respectively: 2-6, 3-5, 2-6, and 3-5). Perhaps best then to manage one’s expectations in a rebuilding year, with a developing quarterback.


Please follow Russ Mitchell on Twitter @russmitchellsec, Brian Harbach @harbabd and Barrett Sallee @barrettsallee.


SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Ole Miss' Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Auburn's Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Bama’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UT’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UF’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UF’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On USC’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Hogs’ Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On LSU’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On UGA’s Spring
SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On MSU’s Spring