BOZICH | Five questions Kentucky football must answer to make 20 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Five questions Kentucky football must answer to make 2016 better than 2015

Posted: Updated:
The Kentucky football team will stage its annual Media Day Friday at Commonwealth Stadium. The Kentucky football team will stage its annual Media Day Friday at Commonwealth Stadium.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Year four for Mark Stoops at the University of Kentucky is here, and there is not another coach in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference who has been at his current job longer than Stoops has been in Lexington.

The "New Kid on the Block" line no longer works.

The Wildcats’ coaches and players meet the media Friday morning at Commonwealth Stadium. There will be questions.

Louisville is ranked 23rd in the USA Today coaches’ preseason college football poll. Western Kentucky is No. 40. Even Indiana drew one vote. Kentucky is the only area team that did not earned a vote.

Here are five questions that should be asked and then answered by Stoops and his players this season:

1. Is there a quarterback in the house?

Recruiting quarterbacks that the recruiting gurus love has not been an issue at Kentucky.

There was Tim Couch. There was Jared Lorenzen. There was Andre Woodson. There was Morgan Newton. There was Patrick Towles.

Now there is Drew Barker.

Scout ranked him a four-star catch in 2014. Rivals also gave the kid four stars. Steve Spurrier wanted Barker to play quarterback at South Carolina.

Couch finished his career as the best quarterback in that group. No player had more struggles than Newton. If Couch was a 10 and Newton a 2, where will Barker land on a 1-to-10 ranking?

Barker has only thrown 70 passes in two seasons, completing half of his attempts with one touchdown and two picks. Last season, Kentucky ranked last in the SEC in passing touchdowns with 10. For the record, Brandon Doughty threw 48 touchdown passes at WKU last season.

With a new offensive coordinator (Eddie Gran) and Barker in charge, the passing game needs to look like a 2016 passing attack.

2. Where’s the rush?

The Wildcats ranked 12th in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing more than 196 yards per game. They were also 12th in total defense at more than 394 yards per game.

That won’t win games, especially with an offense that can’t throw the football.

Seven of the top 10 tacklers from the 2015 defense are gone. The only player back from the front seven who was a consistent contributor is Denzil Ware.

Is that a good thing because the new personnel has to be more effective, or a bad thing because the Wildcats lack proven contributors?

Ask me again in late-September.

3. Can Kentucky take advantage of SEC East slippage?

The Wildcats are the trendy pick to finish fourth in the SEC East – ahead of Vanderbilt, Missouri and South Carolina.

The talk at SEC media days in Birmingham last month was this will be the worst South Carolina team in years, the result of a coaching change and Spurrier shrugging his way through the last two seasons.

Missouri slid from 11 wins to five wins last season. The Tigers changed coaches, and new coach Barry Odom dismissed two starting defensive linemen Wednesday. Missouri is vulnerable.

Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt. The Commodores have gone 7-17 the last two seasons for Derek Mason. Kyle Shurmur, the likely quarterback, completed 43 percent of his passes in 2015.

The path is there for three SEC wins for Kentucky. Or perhaps four, if you believe the Wildcats can handle Mississippi State in Lexington.

4. Is this the year for Boom, baby?

Stanley “Boom” Williams ranked eighth in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 85.5.

The only guy in the SEC who did not understand that Williams was Kentucky’s most talented offensive player was Shannon Dawson. That was a problem. Dawson was Kentucky’s offensive coordinator.

Among the top 10 rushers in the SEC, Williams was the only guy who did not carry the ball at least 219 times. Williams, limited by injuries at times, finished with 121 carries.

Eddie Gran will call plays this season. He needs to make certain Williams gets 200 carries.

Or more.

5. Can Kentucky deliver at winning time?

Change one play in 2014 and the Wildcats would have won six games and played in a bowl.

Change one play in 2015 and the Wildcats would have won six games and played in a bowl.

Kentucky did not make a play against either Florida or Louisville in 2014. No bowl.

The Wildcats did not make a play against Florida, Auburn or Vanderbilt in 2015. No bowl.

Somebody on Stoops’ roster needs to change that vibe. Who will it be?

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.