“The only thing certain in life is death and the reluctance to start football season in Kentucky.”
With Big Blue Madness (and some final recruiting announcements) seemingly an eternity away it’s time to start thinking about football. While next years football team is less mysterious than their roundball counterparts, there still remain a lot of question marks for fans to discuss relentlessly in preparation for the fall. With a new coach, a revolving QB position, and huge losses to the draft on defense, it is tough to predict what we will get from this team next year. Not that it will stop any of us from doing so. In that vein, one Fox Sports reporter (Pete Fuitak) predicts a pleasant season from the boys in blue.
In his article about ‘Teams that will surprise,’ Fuitak has this to say about a certain team from the SEC…
SEC — Kentucky
In case you weren’t paying attention, Kentucky came up with a whale of a season going 7-6 with a team ravaged by injuries and struggling to find a live body to line up under center. Fine, so the Cats got to beat up on a bunch of bad teams like Eastern Kentucky, Louisville, and Vanderbilt, but they also beat Auburn on the road and beat Georgia to secure a bowl bid. This year, new head coach Joker Phillips has a solid base of veterans to work with and yet another schedule filled with enough lightweights to make more noise out of the East.
With Louisville, Western Kentucky, Akron, Charleston Southern, and Vanderbilt on the slate, the Cats should have a five wins to count on before strapping on the helmet. Games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State on the road will be challenging, and Auburn should be better, but missing Alabama and LSU from the West is a big scheduling break. The Florida game is probably a loss no matter what, so the game might as well be on the road in the SEC opener.
The lumps taken by Morgan Newton last year at quarterback should pay off. A great talent who just needs a bit more time, Newton could be special with help from underappreciated stars like WR Randall Cobb and RB Derrick Locke. The defense loses some star power with CB Trevard Lindley and LB Micah Johnson done, but seven starters are back on a defense that allowed a not-that-bad 22.69 points per game.
It’s important to note that Fiutak has already penciled Newton in behind center, something that the Colonel Joker (that’s what we’re calling him now, right Operation Win?) has yet to do, so maybe he doesn’t know all that much about Kentucky. Or maybe he knows a bit more than what we’re being told. Either way, it’s good to now be at the level where Louisville and Vanderbilt are counted as wins every season. And Pete is right, even with so many question marks this year – if a few of them come up roses – expect to be back in a bowl next year. If more than a couple do? The Cats could be headed for somewhere outside of Tennessee next winter break.
Check the team out for yourself this Saturday at Joker’s first reenactment of The Battle of Lexington.