The experts in Las Vegas say will only win "5.5 games" this season. One of those winning games is not picked to be against our in-state rival Louisville. For that game we are 14 point underdogs.
I do not agree with picking apart the entire schedule and saying we will go 6-6 or 5-7. There is no way to know in August what the injury situation will be like for us or Mississippi State when we face off in early October, or what the weather will be like etc...too many unknowns. However, we are now two weeks away from playing at Papa Johns Stadium and we can safely start to predict the outcome of the Governor's Cup.
To date, Kentucky remains relatively healthy. Glenn Faulkner will be missing from the defensive backfield for 6 to 8 weeks after having surgery to repair his ankle. Running back Josh Clemons remains bothered by knee swelling but his MRI came back clear. Other than those two, just the usual bumps and bruises of training camp. That is reason number 1 to believe.
Improved offensive line play is reason number 2. From all reports from camp the line play is much improved over last season. Let's be honest, it would be hard for it to be worse. Based on what has been said look for every position on the line with the possible exception of right tackle to be better. In yesterday's scrimmage the offensive line so dominated our defensive front that coach Rick Minter had them run extra for 15 to 20 minutes. I do not read this as reason to be concerned about our defense but as reason to be excited about our offense.
Max Smith has not been named the starter at QB yet but he will be. He spent the summer with our receivers including freshman DeMarcus Sweat and A.J. Legree (according to Coach Phillips both will play this season). Senior La'Rod King is back to lead this unit along with the talk of camp Demarco Robinson. Add in Gene McCaskill and Daryl Collins and we have a pretty good core of wide receivers. Look for improved production from tight ends Ronnie Shields and Tyler Robinson.
A strong running game will open up the passing game. Smith's leadership and receivers that catch the ball this season are reason number 3 to believe. At running back, the excitement over freshman DyShawn Mobley and Justin Taylor is pretty high. They "move the pile" according to coach Joker Phillips. We really need that type of running to compliment CoShik Williams, Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George. We are 6 deep at running back with Clemons (if he does not red-shirt). Our new depth and style at running back are reason number 4 to believe.
Freshman punter Landon Foster is reason number 5 to believe. If for some reason the new offense get bogged down and we have to punt, this youngster will flip the field so that our defense does not start in a hole. The keys to this game are the same keys to our season. Improved offensive line play is a MUST or everything is will not work. Our young guys must step up quickly especially on the line. Zach West and Darrian Miller must solidify the left side of the line and our young running backs and receivers must learn the offense and produce as soon as possible.
If those things happen we will take down the Cards by 3 points and start the season on a high note. If not and we lose by the 14 or more Vegas is predicting, it will be a long season in the Bluegrass State.