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ESPN’s “SP+” rankings aren’t high on Kentucky

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Kentucky sits behind a slew of SEC schools.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

In the new SP+ rankings for this upcoming college football season known as “SP+”, which features “sustainable and predictive aspects of college football” such as returning production, recruiting success, and recent history.

The Kentucky Wildcats come in ranked No. 58 in the country, with the offense at No. 81 and the defense at No. 45. Kentucky returns the 113th most production out of the possible 129 schools, so the returning production factor does favor the Wildcats.

Kentucky sits behind schools such as Tennessee (41st), Louisville (42nd), Mississippi State (44th), and Arkansas (48th).

This is what ESPN had to say of Mark Stoops and the Wildcats:

“Stoops still hasn’t quite figured out the right offensive identity,” Connelly said. “The best Kentucky teams always seem to have the biggest offensive line on your schedule and a big, angry and effective running back (junior Chris Rodriguez Jr. is 5’11, 224). This is clearly part of what Stoops want to bring to the table.

“Passing’s long been an issue, though. It was to be excused when injuries led to wideout Lynn Bowden Jr. becoming a full-time Wildcat QB in 2019, but in Stoops’ eight seasons, UK has produced a passer rating over 130 or a Total QBR over 60 only once each.

“Quarterbacks Joey Gatewood and Penn State transfer Will Levis are both great run threats, but neither is a proven passer. They could have decent efficiency options in slot men Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska transfer) and Josh Ali, but it might take Coen a while to make serious progress.”