2018 will go down as a historic one for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The campaign saw the Cats post a 9-3 record, a winning record in the SEC, breaking the 31-year losing streak to Florida, and getting themselves ranked in AP, Coaches, and College Football Playoff polls from Week four on.
It’s hard to poke too many holes at this Wildcat squad; however, one concern of many Wildcats fans all season long was the offensive play calling.
The infamous offensive coordinator Eddie Gran runs the offense, and it’s been a rough stint for him over the last two years.
Despite Terry Wilson showing on numerous occasions he could get the ball down the field, Gran failed to call plays that called for deep shots. In result, UK’s passing offense ranked a woeful 116th in the nation in passing yards per game.
What’s most concerning is in each of Gran’s first three seasons at Kentucky, the offense has regressed.
In Gran’s first season running the offense (2016), the Cats ranked 60th in total offense. In 2017, the Cats fell to 95th. In 2018, the team ranked 98th.
Despite having a plethora of talent in Benny Snell Jr., who will likely be running the ball on Sundays in 2019, A.J. Rose, and C.J. Conrad, who will be an NFL tight end, and a solid offensive line, Gran couldn’t get the offense going constantly.
Saying all of this, it’s unlikely Mark Stoops lets Gran go, but there still could be a change here. That’s because Gran is drawing head-coaching interest, namely from Charlotte. if he leaves, there may be no better replacement on the market than Kliff Kingsbury.
Just 39 years old, Kingsbury just finished a six-year stint as the head coach at Texas Tech. Kingsbury won 35 games as the head coach of the Red Raiders, including three bowl game appearances.
Kingsbury had a potent offense in each of his six seasons running the Raider offense.
In 2018, Texas Tech finished 11th in the nation in total offense and threw for 352.6 passing yards per game, which ranked fourth in the country.
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of Kingsbury tenure at Tech was transforming Patrick Mahomes into a star.
Mahomes, who is now in the race for the NFL MVP award in just his second pro season, became a star under Kingsbury.
The Kingsbury-recruited Mahomes had the Texas Tech offense ranked 2nd in passing yards per game and 4th in total offense in his sophomore season and first season as a full-time starter in 2015.
Mahomes went into his junior year thought of as a mid-round draft choice. After working on improving with Kingsbury, Mahomes went on to lead Texas Tech to the best passing offense in the nation and 8th overall offense.
Mahomes was selected 10th in the NFL draft.
Not only can Kingsbury coach quarterbacks, but he’s recruited many big-time skill players and turned them into great players.
The list included tight end Jace Amaro and running back and De’Andre Washington.
With a Kentucky offense set to have a blazing fast running back in A.J. Rose, Lynn Bowden, most of the offensive line returning and Wandale Robinson joining the team, Kingsbury can transform this talented offense that has struggled to a talented one that can thrive.
As for what it would mean for Wilson, It may mean everything. Though Mahomes will likely always be far better than Wilson, Kingsbury can still significantly improve Wilson’s game.
He can encourage Wilson to throw the ball downfield more, which will lead to more practice reps and a prettier deep ball.
He also can develop Wilson’s ability to read defenses, which he has struggled with in his first year at Kentucky.
Kingsbury is the perfect fit for an offense where the talent is there, but production is not.
Kingsbury’s impress track record will get him a job soon as he already has visited the University of Southern California and is considered the leading candidate to be the next USC offensive coordinator.
However, no deal has been reached at this time, and there’s some thought that Kingsbury could hold off on a decision to see what NFL interest he gets.
Hopefully, that ends up being the case and allows Kentucky to consider him ‘if’ Gran goes elsewhere.