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2008 CFN Kentucky Preview
Kentucky WR Dicky Lyons
Kentucky WR Dicky Lyons
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 28, 2008


Last year was supposed to be when it all came together for Kentucky, and while it was a good season, it was the same 8-5 campaign it had in 2006. How far back will the program take a step back, if at all? Check out the CFN Kentucky Preview.

Kentucky Wildcats

Preview 20
08


By
Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Kentucky Preview | 2008 Kentucky Offense
- 2008 Kentucky Defense
| 2008 Kentucky Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Kentucky Preview
| 2006 CFN Kentucky Preview 

Is that it? Is that what everything has been pointing towards for the last few years under Rich Brooks?

Hanging by a threat after a mediocre start, Brooks and his staff suddenly turned around the program with a high-octane offense that cranked out a ton of yards and did just enough to off-set an awful defense and lousy O line play. Everything had been building towards 2007, when Andre Woodson and his cast of veteran offensive weapons were supposed to take the SEC by relative storm, and while there was a huge win over LSU, the 8-5 season with a Music City Bowl win, considering all of its potential, was sort of no big whoop considering the Wildcats went 8-5 with a Music City Bowl win in 2006.

Head coach: Rich Brooks
6th year: 25-35
24th year overall: 116-144-4
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 26, Def. 27, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best UK Players
1.
DE Jeremy Jarmon, Jr.
2. CB Trevard Lindley, Jr.
3. DT Myron Pryor, Sr.
4. OT Garry Williams, Sr.
5. RB Alfonso Smith, Jr.
6. LB Braxton Kelley, Sr.
7. DE Ventrell Jenkins, Sr.
8. FS Marcus McClinton, Sr.
9. WR Dicky Lyons, Sr.
10. LB Micah Johnson, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 31 at Louisville
Sept. 6 Norfolk State
Sept. 13 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 20  OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 Western Kentucky
Oct. 4 at Alabama
Oct. 11 South Carolina
Oct. 18 Arkansas
Oct. 25 at Florida
Nov. 1 at Mississippi State
Nov. 8 Georgia
Nov. 15 Vanderbilt
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE 
Nov. 29 at Tennessee

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2007 Record: 8-5

Sept. 1 E Kentucky W 50-10
Sept. 8 Kent State W 56-20
Sept. 15 Louisville W 40-34
Sept. 22 at Arkansas W 42-29
Sept. 29
Fla Atlantic W 45-17
Oct. 4 at So Carolina L 38-23
Oct. 13 LSU W 45-37 3OT
Oct. 20
Florida L 45-37
Oct. 27 Mississippi State L 31-14
Nov. 10 at Vanderbilt W 27-20
Nov. 17 at Georgia L 24-13
Nov. 24
Tennessee L 52-50 4OT
Music City Bowl
Dec. 31 Florida State W 35-28

You only get so many chances to do big things in the SEC if you're someone like Kentucky, an always promising program that has a hard time getting over the basketball hump, and last year might have been it. But while the spotlight was on and the team came through with a decent, but overall underwhelming year considering the expectations, there's a chance for the team to do even better things this season as it flies under the radar.

Woodson and the stars of the offense might be gone, but the receiving corps gets back solid veteran Dicky Lyons and a track team of young targets who should stretch the field. The quarterback situation is still up in the air, but at least there's good talent to work with, while the backfield that loses do-it-all back Rafael Little has the potential to be even better if Alfonso Smith, Derrick Locke and Tony Dixon play up to their potential.

Unlike the last few years, UK might actually be able to get by on its defense. No, this won't be one of the SEC's best, the talent level just isn't there from top to bottom, but there as many future first-day NFL draft picks as just about everyone else in the conference with linemen Jeremy Jarmon, Myron Pryor, and potentially, Ventrell Jenkins, all certain to make money, while corner Trevard Lindley might be the SEC's best corner.

At the end of the day, Kentucky has won bowl games in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1950-51 seasons, it has more NFL/SEC-caliber talent across the board than it has had in several years, and considering where things were at just a few years ago, this is a winning program that plays in the best league in the land. That's not bad.


What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Curtis Pulley was supposed to be the next big thing. A star recruit who was considered to be a more athletic Tim Couch, he was a challenger for the starting job from day one until Woodson took over and became special. Pulley moved to receiver for a time and redshirted last year, and then he was supposed take the job by the horns this spring when ... zzzzzz, and then came the big boot. Kicked off the team for violating team rules, now the focus is solely on Mike Hartline. Hartline, a tall, promising sophomore bomber with a good arm, made it a race, and now he's the man who'll have to take over and shine.

What to watch for on defense: The NFL scouts to set up shop in Lexington. By the time the draftniks and their lists start to kick in, assuming everyone is leaving early, DT Myron Pryor, a senior, and juniors DE Jeremy Jarmon, ILB Micah Johnson, CB Trevard Lindley and FS Marcus McClinton will all be considered among the top 15 prospects at their respective positions. It's possible  DE/DT Ventrell Jenkins will also enter that group. For a defense that ranked last in the SEC in points allowed, those six form a good base to start.

The team will be far better if …
the lines are better. There's no excuse, absolutely none, for the huge defensive line that's full of NFL prospects to be so bad against the run and to generate no pressure whatsoever. There were sacks here and there, but there weren't nearly enough big plays in the backfield. The O line was fine against the run, but it was last in the SEC, and 104th in the nation, in sacks allowed.

The Schedule: The Wildcats aren't going to be as good as last year, but if they can get by the rivalry date at Louisville they'll be 4-0 going into October and the SEC opener at Alabama. Missing LSU and Auburn from the West is a plus and considering the Florida and Tennessee games are likely losses, they might as well be played on the road. It's a back-heavy slate getting the Gators, Vols, and Georgia from October 25th on. Outside of the date against the Cardinals the non-conference slate is a joke.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Garry Williams. He has the NFL body and the strength to possibly be a guard at the next level, but the 6-3, 300-pound veteran can become a big-time pro prospect if he can grow into a steady pass blocker. He has the tools, and while he might not be the best athlete, he could make a big jump in production.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Jeremy Jarmon and Junior CB Trevard Lindley. Jarmon is a 285-pound end with the moves and quickness of a much smaller player. While he needs to be more of a consistent force in the backfield, he's on the verge of becoming one of the SEC's best all-around ends. If Lindley isn't the league's best tackling corner, he's a close second. He's not all that huge at 6-0 and 175 pounds, but he doesn't miss a stop.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Mike Hartline. UK led the SEC in passing over the last two seasons with Andre Woodson throwing for 3,709 yards and 40 touchdowns last year. No one's asking for Hartline to be Woodson, but considering how spotty the pass protection is, and with a nearly brand-new receiving corps kicking in, the quarterback situation has to be rock-solid.

The season will be a success if ... it's a third straight 8-5 season with a bowl win. It's not going to be easy, but if the Cats can beat Louisville, Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt, that's five wins right there. Split at home against South Carolina and Arkansas and come up with an upset on the road against Mississippi State or Alabama, win the bowl game, and there you go. There's enough talent returning on defense, and enough athleticism on offense, to make it happen.

Key game: Aug. 31 at Louisville. There's a reason everyone went bonkers over the 40-34 win over Louisville last year. For one, it's a rivalry game, and also, it was the first time UK had won in the series since 2002, losing four straight. With a joke of a non-conference schedule to follow, a win in Papa John's would almost certainly mean a 4-0 start going into the date at Alabama.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Punt return average: Kentucky 8.1 yards – Opponents 6 yards
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 23.5 yards – Kentucky 22.1
- Passing TDs: Kentucky 40 – Opponents 24