The 2018 Kentucky Wildcats football season was no doubt the best season in many of our lifetimes, and has this state buzzing about the football program. The Cats are fresh off a 10-win season and a Citrus Bowl victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Now, the 2019 season is quickly approaching, and we got our first glimpse of the team for this season when they took the field Friday night for the Blue-White Game.
A year ago, the defense was outstanding all season, but it was a senior filled group and now Mark Stoops and his staff will have to replace a lot of experience on that side of the ball.
Not only will they have to replace some of their top talent on defense, but they will have to replace arguably the best running back in school history in Benny Snell.
We would have to assume that this year we will see a lot of more passing plays from the offense, and we got an early taste of that in the spring game.
It is always nice to get an early look at the team, and I think we have a lot to be excited about once the football season finally rolls around.
Thoughts on the spring game
AJ Rose will be a threat on the ground and in the air
Benny Snell was fantastic during his time at Kentucky and make a lot of big time plays. The difference however with Rose in the backfield is the speed that he brings to the table.
Snell didn’t have that breakaway speed to his game that Rose has, making it likely that we see several long breakaway runs this season.
Another thing is Snell wasn’t a threat catching the ball out of the backfield, but the Cats gain that threat with Rose in the game.
We saw that a little bit last season, especially in the Georgia game when Rose made big catches out of the backfield.
Rose will give this team a new look that they can go to and will result in more home-run plays from the RB position.
AJ Rose breaks out to a long gain. pic.twitter.com/rAKPCbTNJH— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
Terry Wilson looked more confident and consistent
A year ago, Wilson had games like the Florida game where he looked unstoppable out there controlling the game and making plays through the air and with his feet leading the Cats to a streak ending victory over the Gators.
However, he also had games like the Texas A&M game where he looked uncomfortable and without any confidence.
In the Spring Game, he came out of the game strong and delivered a TD bomb to Lynn Bowden.
Terry Wilson airs it out to Lynn Bowden for the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/YL2JWwuMvo— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
He looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket reading the defense. An issue from a year ago was the deep ball, but Wilson looked like he really worked on that this offseason, as he delivered deep throws on the money for big gains.
We should all be very excited about what we saw from Wilson.
Terry Wilson shows off that arm again finding Isaiah Epps deep. pic.twitter.com/RPZnFyOgAY— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
The receivers made plays
One thing that has been frustrating in the Stoops era is the WR play. They have been inconsistent and have had way too many drops.
Stoops has said that he has really liked what he saw from the WRs this spring, and they backed up what he said in this one making big plays and catching balls that we saw them drop in past years.
Hopefully, what we saw in the Spring Game will show up once the bright lights are on and the regular season gets underway.
Justin Rigg hauls in the pass and gets to the endzone. pic.twitter.com/WugLHZCnES— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
Bryce Oliver with an excellent catch. pic.twitter.com/RWjucNZGht— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
Is the kicking game back?
We were all spoiled with the kicking game while Austin MacGinnis was the kicker, as we knew he was a guaranteed three points once the got into his range which was pretty far.
Last season, the kicking game was basically non-existent and very frustrating to say the least while freshman Chance Poore was redshirting.
Now, Poore is the kicker, and he came into the Spring Game and drilled his first attempt that was from 52 yards out.
That had to make everyone happy to see him put it through and it will be great to have an option when a drive stalls out in range.
This team has a lot of depth
Not only did we see the first team making plays, but so too did the backups.
The entire backfield is going to be fun to watch this season, as they all made big plays throughout the game.
The backup WRs and defenders made plays during their chance to play, and I think this could be one of the deepest teams that coach Stoops has had at Kentucky.