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Kentucky Preview 2006 - Offense
Kentucky Wildcats
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 8, 2006


Kentucky Wildcats Preview 2006 - Wildcat Offense

What you need to know ... The potential is there for a little bit of a turnaround after averaging 297 yards and an inconsistent 22 points a game. The strength early on should be an experienced line with more than enough starters and depth to be far better. The quarterback situation will be a topic of debate all season long with big Andre Woodson battling with the all-around talents of 2004 super-recruit Curtis Pulley. The receiving corps needs to stay healthy and be far more productive even though many of last year's top producers are gone. Fortunately, do-it-all running back Rafael Little is back to carry the offense with Tony Dixon returning from injury to provide some much needed support.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andre Woodson
146-253, 1,644 yds, 6 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Rafael Little
197 carries, 1,045 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Rafael Little
46 catches, 449 yds

Star of the offense: Junior RB Rafael Little
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR DeMoreo Ford
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Garry Williams
Best pro prospect: Little
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Little, 2) TE Jacob Tamme, 3) Williams
Strength of the offense: Offensive line experience
Weakness of the offense: Wide receiver

Quarterbacks
There's undeniable talent to work with, but can the coaching staff make Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley productive? They're both accurate enough to make all the throws, and now one of them has to take the job by the reins and show he can put points on the board. Woodson is the big bomber with the experience to be a top leader, but Pulley has far more mobility with enough speed to be a dangerous all-around playmaker.
The key to the unit: Quickly settle on a starter and go with him. There isn't time to do a quarterback shuffle.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5

Projected Starter
- Andre Woodson, Jr. - 146-253, 58%, 1,644 yds, 6 TD, 6 INT, 1 rushing touchdown
Woodson has the size, strength, and raw talent. He's 6-5 and a tough 240 pounds with a huge arm. For all his skills and accuracy, he hasn't led the offense to enough points or the team to enough wins. He was a superstar recruit a few years ago and holds the school record for most consecutive throws without an interception (which is more impressive than it might sound considering how good Tim Couch was). Even with all his experience he'll have a fight on his hands to keep the starting job.

Top Backups
- Curtis Pulley, Soph. - 31-50, 62%, 208 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT, 49 carries, 149 yds, 3 TD
2004's star recruit will be bucking hard for the starting job. He's not as big as Andre Woodson and doesn't have the arm, but he's far more mobile and adds more options to the attack. He can play wide receiver if needed and has the athleticism to be used as a kick blocking specialist. Now he has to show he can be a consistent enough passer to take over the starting job.
- Will Fidler, Fr.
The true freshman doesn't have much shot at seeing playing time right away, but he's a talented  pro-style passer who graduated from high school early to be part of the mix. He's big, strong and mobile, and now he needs practice time.

Running Backs
There are plenty of good options in the backfield led by all-around All-SEC star Rafael Little. He does everything so well that the coaching staff could line him up in several formations to keep him on the field while also allowing other backs to get in the mix. Tony Dixon returns from a broken leg to provide some desperately needed depth, while speedster Alfonso Smith needs to get the ball in his hands. John Conner is a limited fullback, but he has a motor that won't quit.
The key to the unit: Rafael Little has to stay healthy meaning Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith, Terrell Bankhead and Antoine Brown have to be part of the offense early on.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Rafael Little, Jr. - 197 carries, 1,045 yds, 9 TDs, 5.3 ypc, 46 catches, 449 yds
You could make a case that Little was the SEC's best player last year leading the Wildcats in rushing, receiving, kickoff returns and punt returns. He's a decent-sized back at 5-10 and 195 pounds with tremendous quickness and wide receiver hands. All he needs is a little bit of a crease and he's gone. Expect him to be even more effective this season, even if his numbers don't improve, with other good backs able to take the pressure off. Now he has to get healthy after dislocating his wrist in spring ball and had to undergo surgery.

- Fullback John Conner, RFr.
The 243-pound redshirt freshman is a former walk-on who was a key player on special teams before getting knocked out with an injury. He's a physical player who should turn out to be a perfect lead blocker, but don't expect to see the ball in his hands.

Top Backups
- Tony Dixon, Soph.
Dixon appeared ready to be the starter after a good freshman season rushing for 244 yards and a touchdown, but he suffered a broken leg in fall practice and was out for the year. The former cornerback is strong with excellent speed, and now he'll provide a big boost for the ground game getting around ten carries a game to keep Rafael Little fresh.
- Alfonso Smith, RFr.
A top scout team performer last season, the 6-1, 200-pound Smith is one of the team's faster players and is working hard at becoming a better blocker. He's not a track star playing football; he's a football player who happens to have track star speed.
- Fullback Terrell Bankhead, Sr.
Part tailback, part fullback, the 220-pound senior played on special teams after transferring from Mesa College in California. He'll play behind John Conner at fullback and will mostly be used when a big back is needed. He has too much speed to be just a blocker.

Receivers
The word you're looking for is uh-oh. Scott Mitchell, Glenn Holt and Tommy Cook are gone from a receiving corps that didn't exactly set the world on fire. Top returning wide receiver Keenan Burton has the talent to explode into something special, but he can't stay healthy. The team's leading receiver last year was running back Rafael Little, and the number two man was tight end Jacob Tamme, who has a shoulder injury. DeMoreo Ford has to be a key contributor to take the pressure off Burton, while Dicky Lyons and former quarterback Joe Joe Brown have to play like veterans.
The key to the unit: Everyone has to stay healthy and a second wide receiver has to emerge alongside Keenan Burton.
Receiver Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- DeMoreo Ford, Soph. - 2 catches, 10 yards
Ford saw a little bit of time as a true freshman and now has to show he can hold up as a starting receiver on the inside. He's a wiry 5-11 and 189 pounds without the bulk to be a full-time playmaker across the middle. He got knocked out for the season with a knee injury, but he still has the speed to grow into a top deep threat.

- Keenan Burton, Jr. - 24 catches, 365 yds, 15.2 ypc, 2 TD
The team's most dangerous receiver has to find a way to stay healthy. He's a tall, big play target with great moves and productivity when he's on the field. He suffered wrist injury two years ago and had problems last season with an injured foot. When 100%, he'll be the team's number one target and the leader of the young receiving corps.

- Tight end Jacob Tamme, Jr. - 29 catches, 251 yds, 8.1 ypc, 1 TD
Tamme started off his career as a huge wide receiver before moving over to tight end. He wasn't quite the matchup nightmare he was supposed to be, but the 6-5, 240-pound junior was a steady pass catcher. He still needs work as a blocker and has to be able to hold up after having problems with a shoulder injury.

Top Backups
- Dicky Lyons, Soph.
Lyons has the speed to be a top kickoff returner and a top deep threat. He redshirted last season with a logjam of talent at receiver, and now he'll be back in the mix as a third receiver and a spot starter if Keenan Burton has injury issues again.
- Joe Joe Brown, Soph. - 1 catch, 5 yards
The former quarterback brings size to the corps. he's 6-3, 200 pounds with enough athleticism to be a difference maker behind DeMoreo Ford.
- Tight end Ross Bogue, RFr.
The starter until Jacob Tamme's shoulder heals up, the 6-5 Bogue has good enough hands to be used in two tight end sets. His playing time will depend on how he emerges as a blocker.

Offensive Linemen
Experience isn't an issue with nine players able to rotate throughout the lineup. Now the production has to be better after allowing 34 sacks and getting next to no push for the ground game. It isn't a huge line, but the tackles are fast and athletic and the interior is dominated by strong seniors. Continuity will be the key with everyone needing to be healthy. This group needs a steady starting lineup to rely on.
The key to the unit: All the experience has to convert into production.
Offensive Line Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- OT Aaron Miller, Soph.
The 300-pound sophomore took over the left tackle spot in spring ball but will have to battle with Garry Williams this fall. He's big, agile and talented, but he'll need a little while to gel into the position on the left side.
- OG
Christian Johnson, Soph.
The 325-pound sophomore is one of the team's best combinations of size and strength. He has All-SEC potential at right guard where he'll take over the starting job after a strong spring.
- C Matt McCutchan, Sr.
The team's best offensive lineman was granted a sixth year of eligibility and will be the anchor up front. He's a good, technical blocker who has the size and power to be a mauler when he has to. The 310-pound senior is a former walk-on with a high motor.
- OG Michael Aitcheson, Sr.
One of the locker room leaders. the 300-pound senior will have to fight with Trai Williams for the job at right guard after starting every game last season. He's a physical run blocker who doesn't make too many mistakes and can play either guard spot.
- OT Hayden Lane, Sr.
A member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll in each of the last five seasons, he is also the team's most experienced lineman with 23 straight starters. While smarts isn't a problem for the 6-6, 283-pound senior, consistent pass protection is.

Top Backups
-
OT Garry Williams, Soph.
Williams will be one of the future mainstays of the line. He's fast 288 pounds with just enough experience to be counted on at left tackle until James Alexander gets healthy. His emergence allowed Fatu Turituri to move to guard, and now he'll likely be a rock up front for the next three years. 
-
OT James Alexander, Soph.
Alexander emerged as a surprising reserve as a true freshman after bulking up to an athletic 281 pounds. He has the feet and the speed to grow into one of the team's better pass blockers once he gets healthy.
- OG Fatu Turituri, Sr.
The 290-pound senior started the first seven games of last season before getting knocked out with a knee injury. He's expected to come back at some point early in the year to challenge Trai Williams for starting time at right guard after playing tackle.
- OG
Trai Williams, Sr.
He might be one of the team's smaller guards at 286 pounds, but he's one of the team's strongest players. He has been a steady starter and an All-SEC Academic performer. He can play either guard spot.

- C Travis Slaydon, Sr.
After not seeing any time in his first two seasons, the 290-pound senior finally got on the field as a reserve last season. He's very strong and smart enough to handle the line calls at center. He should be a decent reserve behind Matt McCutchan.

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