2013 Kentucky Spring Football Analysis
Kentucky Wildcats 2012 ...
Head Coach: Joker Phillips
Why To Be Excited ... There’s always a burst of enthusiasm and excitement when a new head coach takes over, and Mark Stoops comes in looking to change plenty of things around right away. For a team that was so miserable in so many areas over the last few years, and with some of the weaker SEC teams like Vanderbilt and Ole Miss showing that it’s possible to succeed in the brutal league, there aren’t any excuses being made. Like all new coaches, Stoops is saying all the right things about the team needing to attack more, being more aggressive, and get stronger and nastier overall, but in this case it could actually be true. He’s a different type of coach than Joker Phillips, and it’s going to be a different-looking team.
| 2013 Schedule|
8/31 WKU (in Nashville)
9/7 Miami Univ.
9/21 OPEN DATE
10/5 at South Carolina
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 at Miss State
11/2 Alabama State
11/16 at Vanderbilt
11/23 at Georgia
Why To Be Grouchy ... Here’s the problem. Stoops is all about the defense and getting tougher and more productive on that side of the ball, but the D wasn’t necessarily the problem. Yes, UK ranked 13th out of the 14 SEC teams in scoring defense and 11th in total D, but allowing 391 yards per game wasn’t that bad. The concern is on offense, and while seven starters return, the best player, guard Larry Warford, is gone along with center Matt Smith and top receiver La’Rod King. There’s still a major question mark at quarterback, hoping for Jalen Whitlow to take a step forward after taking over the top spot by the end of last year, and it would be nice if there was a steady ground game.
What Needs Working On ... Putting points on the board. It’s so simple – you can’t win if you don’t score. Kentucky hung 47 on a good Kent State team, put up 31 in the loss to WKU, shocked Georgia with 24 points, and blew up FCSer Samford for 24 points. The offense failed to score more than 17 in any of the other eight games while getting blown out by Louisville, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. The defense will get plenty of attention under Stoops, but at some point, the offense has to start carrying some of the weight.
Non-Conference Games: WKU, Miami University, Louisville, Alabama State
Games Against The West: Alabama, at Mississippi State
Realistic Best Case Record: 6-6
Worst Case Record: 2-10
Likely Finish: 3-9
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: WKU, Miami University, Alabama State
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Louisville, Florida, at South Carolina, Alabama, at Mississippi State, Missouri, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, Tennessee
Schedule Analysis: After the problems of last year and with a new coaching staff, the Wildcats need wins and they need them fast. However, Western Kentucky and head coach Bobby Petrino won’t be pushovers in the opener in Nashville, but it’s a must win as is the follow-up with Miami University before the rivalry date against Louisville. Alabama State is the other non-conference game, but that’s not until early November.
There’s a week off before one of the nastiest three game stretches on any schedule – Florida, at South Carolina, Alabama. There’s a break after the date with the Tide before having to go to Mississippi State. The Alabama State game will be a much-needed break, but beating Missouri at home the week after could turn out to be the key to the season – it’s a winnable home game before having to go on the road to face Vanderbilt and Georgia. The year ends up with Tennessee at home.
Team Concerns For 2013: Offense, offense, offense. New head coach Mark Stoops' first job is to jumpstart an attack that averaged under 18 points per game and sputtered and coughed in SEC play scoring 17 points or fewer in every league game except the 29-24 loss to Georgia. The passing game was painfully inefficient with an unsettled quarterback situation, and the defense couldn't pick up the slack getting bombed on time and again. Generating more stops behind the line is a must for the defensive front.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. It's an easy pitch for Mark Stoops - come to Kentucky and get a shot at the defensive line right away. Ends Alvonte Bell and Reggie Meant, along with JUCO transfer Za'Darius Smith, might all be as good as anything the Wildcats have coming back, while Jacob Hyde brings a much-needed 310-pound body to eventually stick on the inside. Safety Marcus McWilson and JUCO transfer Nate Willis need to be answers for the secondary.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
43. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive playmakers. The last three recruiting classes have mostly focused on upgrading the offense, but that didn’t exactly payoff in a dismal 2011. It was a young crew of talented skill players that needed time, but now it’s time to produce. The defense has to stronger and more productive, and this class is focusing on getting more options for an already decent-looking secondary.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 45. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receiver. The secondary gets a huge boost with safety Glen Faulkner a find and corners Eric Dixon and Daylen Hall, and the offensive line got help with tackle Darrian Miller a future All-SEC factor, but the bulk is at receiver. Rich Brooks focused on skill players a few years ago, and Joker Phillips loaded up with this class with six good receivers and tight end Alvin Dupree to boost the depth right away, but speedsters like Demarco Robinson and Daryl Collins should be stars in the future.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 38. That Class Was
Heavy On ... The running game.
Last year Rich Brooks made sure the future of the
passing game was set by bringing in three quarterbacks, five wide receivers and two tight ends.
The future became the present with so many issues at
quarterback last season. this year, new head man
Joker Phillips made sure the running game was secure
with four very good prospects led by Brandon Gainer
out of Miami and Raymond Sanders out of Georgia. In
an interesting move, Phillips also loaded up on
tight ends bringing in four with Alex Smith a big
blocker and Tyler Brause like a big receiver. Don't
dismiss the big signing of Joe Mansour, one of the
nation's top punting prospects.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 32. That Class Was
Heavy On ... the passing game. Three quarterbacks, five wide receivers and two tight ends … head coach Rich Brooks is looking for more out of a passing attack that was supposed to feature Curtis Pulley, before he was booted off the team. There aren’t any stars at receiver, but Anthony Kendrick, Ridge Wilson, LaRod King and Chris Matthews are big. Really big. 6-3 and up big. The quarterback battle will be tremendous with Morgan Newton, Ryan Mossakowski and Brian Adams all starting-quality prospects.