Evaluating the Kentucky Wildcats on the Hour Glass - 2018
By Mitch Davis
Football in the Bluegrass only means one thing and that is uncertainty around a historically middle of the pack SEC team. However, Kentucky will look to carry the light for the Big Blue Nation after back to back bowl games.
Head Coach Mark Stoops will be entering his 6th season as the Kentucky head coach and with an overall record of 26-36 Kentucky fans are starting to get a little restless with Stoops and the Wildcats. Mark Stoops has led his Wildcats to back to back Bowl games where the Wildcats dropped both games. Stoops and company will look to push the streak to three straight bowl games as the Wildcats take the field this fall.
In order to keep the momentum, the Wildcats must find a way to win a much needed Bowl game. Kentucky in the past few seasons lack the ability to finish out a game and or a season. You can see examples last season in games with Florida and Ole Miss where the Wildcats simply let both games get away by a single possession, a bowl win would change the whole mental state around the program.
Kentucky lost a major key on the offensive side of the ball and losing Stephen Johnson who was the leader of the Wildcats football team having led Kentucky to back to back bowl games. Johnson who in an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio said “I am completely done with football, I really don’t have the fire or desire or drive to keep on playing it. To have these surgeries on top of it, it would shut my body down.” Johnson was a crucial part to the Kentucky Wildcats team.
Despite losing Johnson, Kentucky will return Benny Snell who was 90% of Kentucky offense. Benny will look to carry the Wildcats on his back with his grind it out attitude that he possesses that is the exact blueprint on which Mark Stoops engrains into his team. Kentucky will also return key starters Lynn Bowden, Dorian Baker, C.J. Conrad, and Landon Young on the offensive side of the ball.
Also, a major storyline to watch is who will win the starting quarterback job. Coming into the spring the clear-cut favorite was Juco transfer Terry “Touchdown” Wilson who an all-around Dual-threat QB, however, Gunner Hoak made a name for himself this spring having a stellar Spring Game. Kentucky could play a two QB system which could be the key to a breakout year for the Wildcats.
On defense, the Wildcats return Chris Westry, Darius West, Jordan Jones, and Kash Daniel. Kentucky is bound to have another breakout year on the defensive side of the ball which Mark Stoops would be very happy about. Stoops have taken the Kentucky defense to brand new heights never seen before in Lexington and continues to get bigger and better to compete in the SEC.
One thing that Kentucky struggled with last season was defending the deep corner route in the red zone. After dropping two games last season to the same play, Kentucky will look to be more disciplined.
Kentucky has a lot to look forward to this season as the Wildcats get ready to hit the line in 2018. Kentucky across the Bluegrass have hope to believe in with Kentucky football next season, with a favorable schedule the Kentucky Wildcats should be able to make another bowl appearance.
HG analytics pick: 4-7
2017 Kentucky Projections on the Hour Glass: 5-7; Actual finish 6-6 (92 percent accuracy).
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 31st – Outside our Realistic College Playoff Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Mark Stoops on HG Scale: 85th (Stoops Stamp at -1) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Kentucky quarterback play rated 106th in the country out of on our Division One Scale. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Kentucky has a stamp of 1.3.