Another year, another football season, and another edition of Athlon Sports’ annual anonymous survey of coaches.
So, what did the coaches have to say about the Kentucky Wildcats this year? After one of the best seasons in Kentucky football history, there were mixed reviews from coaches around the league.
“Tons of questions. Maybe the team that will look the most different on both sides this season.”
I think we can all agree with this sentiment.
“They lose a ton on defense. You don’t replace a Josh Allen at Alabama, and you sure as hell don’t at Kentucky. He was the best edge rusher in the game.”
This seems like the perfect example of a backhanded compliment. Yes, Josh Allen was the best defensive player in football last season, as well as possibly the best in school history. However, that Josh Allen was a two-star recruit, so he’s right. The Alabama Crimson Tide certainly doesn’t entertain the idea of recruiting those types of kids.
“I’d worry more about the offense — the needs are obvious. Losing Benny Snell is a huge blow, he’s their all-time yards guy, but they’ve got a stable behind Snell of faster, more dynamic guys, not grinders.”
I like how this coach recognizes what we here in Kentucky see in this football team. Yes, there are concerns around the offense, but the trio of AJ Rose, Kavosiey Smoke, and Chris Rodriguez is a good way to replace the school’s all-time leading rusher.
“Eddie Gran will have to go back to that Cincinnati stuff, spreading the ball around, going faster, but they have to get more efficient quarterback play. Terry Wilson can run, but he’s got to improve throwing the ball on third down. They need better execution passing and receiving. They won’t have the defense to bail out short drives.”
This comment was probably my favorite one of all. It’s real and explains the offense perfectly. It’s time to let Terry loose and open up the offense. Having Lynn Bowden at wide receiver is definitely a good start.
“They’re going to fall back some this year because of how good the league is, but I think Mark Stoops has done a great job. Even if they end up .500 this season, they’re still going in the right direction. They’re just not a reload team. They’re going to need more than one year to build. But Stoops has them in a really nice spot.”
These are the type of people who don’t really respect what Mark Stoops has done in his tenure at Kentucky. Part of the reason the Cats were so good last season was due to having SEC talent three-deep on the depth chart. They might not reload like the Wildcat basketball team, but Stoops has assuredly built a program who can have sustainable success.
Finally, we’ll end the comments on a good note.
“The good news is that it’s a line of scrimmage league and they’re really solid on both the offensive and defensive line. They get their left tackle Landon Young back from the ACL tear. He’ll be a huge asset.”
Yes, he will be. Young will play a huge part in making sure the offense doesn’t take a step back upon the departure of Snell. Wilson struggled last season when he was pressured, and that pressure usually came from his blindside. That spot was a rotating door between Naasir Watkins and EJ Price, who were left to fill the void left by Young. This season, that won’t be the case.
However, talk is cheap. It’s time to show the country that last year wasn’t just a fluke, it was just the beginning.