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Kentucky season analysis

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Kentucky season analysis

Here is a sports writers analysis of the UK season. FAU is being looked at as a gimme! Its a bit insulting but they have higher difficulty factors against Eastern Kentucky and Kent State.

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A major complication
If Cats are better, schedule will make them prove it
By Chip Cosby
[email protected]
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The Cats enter their first season at full-scholarship strength since coming off NCAA probation and boast a record half-dozen pre-season All-Southeastern Conference stars. But the league's media members voted Kentucky to finish only fifth in the Eastern Division this season. Why? It's probably the Kentucky schedule, which includes the defending national champion, plus the Sugar and Orange Bowl champions, and at least seven other opponents who could be in the pre-season top 25 polls.

Here's a game-by-game breakdown of what the Cats are facing:

Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 1)

What the Cats are up against: The Colonels are hoping to have their best team under fifth-year head coach Danny Hope and should boast a nice offense with most of its top skill players back from its 6-5 team of a year ago.

Degree of difficulty: 2 (out of 10)

Chances of winning: High. The in-state rivalry angle might add some intrigue, but the Cats figure to have way too much firepower for the Colonels.

Kent State (Sept. 8)

What the Cats are up against: This one could be tricky. The Golden Flashes, led by former UK quarterback Doug Martin, figure to be an upper-division Mid-American Conference team in 2007. And we've seen how much trouble upper-division MAC teams have given the Cats in the past (see Ohio University, 2004)

Degree of difficulty: 4

Chances of winning: High. As long as UK isn't looking ahead too much to Louisville, it should be able to handle Kent. But the Cats will have to show up and work.

Louisville (Sept. 15)

What the Cats are up against: Big Blue Nation wants this one badly. U of L has won four in a row in the series and turned into a nationally respected program, and the Cards figure to have another juggernaut in 2007 led by quarterback Brian Brohm and receivers Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia.

Degree of difficulty: 7

Chances of winning: Moderate. The Cards are a better team on paper and will be the favorite. But it is a rivalry game at home. Throw in the fact that the Cardinals are breaking in a new coach (Steve Kragthorpe), and give the Cats at least a shot at an upset.

At Arkansas (Sept. 22)

What the Cats are up against: The Razorbacks have arguably the nation's top player in Darren McFadden, but a topsy-turvy off-season has folks on edge in Fayetteville. Coach Houston Nutt has the personnel to equal or better last year's 10-win season, but Arkansas might be on an emotional roller coaster all season.

Degree of difficulty: 8

Chances of winning: Slim to moderate. Arkansas has the one thing Kentucky always seems to struggle with: a stud running back. The Hogs have a big road date at Alabama the week before they play UK. If the Hogs win and come in on an uptick, the Cats will have their hands full. However, a loss would improve Kentucky's shot at an upset dramatically.

Florida Atlantic (Sept. 29)

What the Cats are up against: Ex-UK star and U of L coach Howard Schnellenberger returns 18 starters from a unit that finished 5-7 in 2006.

Degree of difficulty: 1

Chances of winning: Extremely high. While FAU figures to be improved, the Owls were hammered by every BCS conference team they played last year (Clemson 54-6, Kansas State 45-0, Oklahoma State 48-8, South Carolina 45-6). This is a win-win for the Cats: A chance to bring in a big name (Schnellenberger) and pick up what should be an easy victory.

At South Carolina (Oct. 4)

What the Cats are up against: South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier told the folks at SEC Media Days last week that he finally has a team in Columbia that he believes can compete for a conference title. Just how good the Gamecocks turn out to be might depend on how good of a quarterback Blake Mitchell can be in 2007.

Degree of difficulty: 7

Chances of winning: Moderate. Even when Kentucky isn't very good, it manages to play the Gamecocks tough. There's probably not a whole lot separating the two teams on paper, but there are two things working against UK: Spurrier never loses to Kentucky, and you know he doesn't want the first one to come at home in a nationally televised ESPN Thursday night game. Still, with four of its last five losses to Carolina coming by a touchdown or less, you'd think Kentucky is due some good fortune here.

LSU (Oct. 13)

What the Cats are up against: The Tigers rival Southern Cal as the most talented team in the nation, and the Cats got a whiff of that talent in last year's 49-0 drubbing in Baton Rouge. The defense is downright scary. Quarterback Matt Flynn doesn't have to be JaMarcus Russell, but if he can adequately manage the offense, LSU should be fine.

Degree of difficulty: 9

Chances of winning: Slim. This one's going to be tough, folks. LSU has the personnel on defense to keep the Kentucky offense from going crazy and enough speed on offense to severely test the UK defense. It would probably take the Wildcats' best effort of the year to win this one.

Florida (Oct. 20)

What the Cats are up against: The Gators lost a ton from last year's national champions, but there's still plenty of talent on hand, and you know Coach Urban Meyer will make the most out of what he's got.

Degree of difficulty: 8

Chances of winning: Slim to moderate. This is one team the Cats would be better served catching earlier in the season. By the time the Gators get to town, quarterback Tim Tebow will have had six starts under his belt and the young defense will have had time to mature. UK should be able to make it interesting; the question is whether it can make a winning play against an opponent it hasn't beaten in forever.

Mississippi State (Oct. 27)

What the Cats are up against: MSU Coach Sylvester Croom would love to mirror Rich Brooks. Like Brooks, Croom is 9-25 going into his fourth season. Now he's hoping for the same kind of breakthrough that Brooks had last year. The offense has potential with quarterback Michael Henig and a deep stable of backs and receivers.

Degree of difficulty: 5

Chances of winning: Contrary to popular opinion, this one is not a gimme. The Cats barely beat MSU in Starkville last year, and the Tigers figure to be improved in 2007. That being said, Kentucky's best game beats State's best game.

At Vanderbilt (Nov. 10)

What the Cats are up against: Even though Coach Bobby Johnson has not gotten Vandy to a bowl game, you have to admire the job he's done in Nashville. Chris Nickson and Earl Bennett will be one of the SEC's best quarterback-receiver combos, and linebacker Jonathan Goff made first-team All-SEC ahead of UK's Wesley Woodyard.

Degree of difficulty: 6

Chances of winning: Toss-up. Another one that people figure to throw in the bag that they shouldn't. Vandy's not bad, folks. After laying an egg in Nashville in 2003, Brooks has handled the Commodores three straight. The Mississippi State and Vandy games are where we might find out if the Cats have really turned the corner. Legitimate SEC-contending teams win those games.

At Georgia (Nov. 17)

What the Cats are up against: A Georgia team that should be vastly improved from last year's 9-4 squad. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is a year older and wiser, and the defense seems to always find a way to be good.

Degree of difficulty: 10

Chances of winning: Very slim. Not that it's all that unthinkable that UK could win in Athens, but you know Georgia doesn't want to lose two in a row to the Wildcats. And don't forget, after losing to Kentucky, the Bulldogs beat Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to close the season.

Tennessee (Nov. 24)

What the Cats are up against: It's hard to get a read on the Vols. They have top-10 talent, but don't appear to have the star power they once had. They also must face California, Florida, and Alabama all on the road before they get to Lexington.

Degree of difficulty: 6

Chances of winning: Moderate. Kentucky looked like the better team in last year's close loss in Knoxville, and they get the Vols in Lexington for what should be an emotionally charged Senior Day. This could be the year UK gets over that 22-year hump, but remember, a Tennessee team limped into Lexington with a 4-6 record two years ago and still whupped up on the Cats.

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Kentucky season analysis

No reason Eastern Kentucky should be better prepared than FAU to face Kentucky. I think the writer is really underestimating FAU.


You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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Kentucky season analysis

owlfan1 said

No reason Eastern Kentucky should be better prepared than FAU to face Kentucky. I think the writer is really underestimating FAU.


If they are making their ASSUMPTIONS based on the past two years then they are in for a rude awakening, but this is still an SEC team and we will have our hands full regardless. The team is in a much better position right now, then last year - yet, the offense still has to prove it can provide some consistency for us to have success.
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Kentucky season analysis

They are in the SEC, but consistently in the bottom of the SEC. They struggled badly with UL-Monroe last year. This sight is giving them a "moderate" chance of beating UofL. UofL has beaten them 7 out of the last 8 games and pounded them by 31 last year. They have improved, but I don't think the writer bothered to look up any info on FAU. FAU is at least 2 to 3 touchdowns better than 1-AA EKU and probably on par with Kent State.
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