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Kentucky Wildcats 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 93
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 53

“Operation Win” has begun in Kentucky, and new head coach Joker Phillips hopes it will not end up being “Mission Impossible”. The military inspired coach has his work cut out for him after taking over a seven win team that lost a lot of its defensive productivity. While the Kentucky Wildcats have managed to get a bowl bid for a record four years in a row, it will be difficult to get a fifth.

Kentucky Wildcats College Football Cheerleader

Although not losing as many starters as their basketball counterparts, Kentucky football lost its best players on defense. Gone are Micah Johnson, the team’s leading tackler, and interception leader Sam Maxwell. Junior Ronnie Sneed will try to step in to replace Johnson, but he has some big shoes to fill. The planned replacement for Maxwell, Matt Lentz, decided to leave the team for concussion related issues. Kentucky’s solid defense from last year should have some trouble in 2010.

On offense, the Wildcats have two versatile weapons returning in running back Derrick Locke and wide receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb, the team’s leading receiver, also spent a lot of time running out of the shotgun and finished second in rushing only behind Locke. The two combined for over 2,000 yards rushing and receiving on an otherwise weak offense. In addition, both of these players return kicks on special teams.

The offensive line is a position in flux, with only one starter returning from last year. Along with the line, the quarterback spot is also up in the air. Senior Mike Hartline is coming back from a 2009 knee injury, but will have to compete with sophomore Morgan Newton. Newton averaged only 88 yards passing per game last year, so it is likely the coaching staff will look to the senior to lead the team.

Playing in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) allows for very little margin for error. After losing a lot of talent and not replenishing it with many strong recruits, Kentucky looks to be another average team that may miss out on a bowl game.

Kentucky’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +3000

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