(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
2008 Record: 7-6 overall, 2-6 in conference.
Key players: WR/QB Randall Cobb, LB Micah Johnson, CB Trevard Lindley
In the past few seasons, the Kentucky Wildcats have done a fantastic job of winning games and gaining national attention. Considering where the football team has stood in contrast with their heralded basketball program for the past decade, the fact that the Cats are winning is impressive.
They won their first four games of last year by large margins (despite playing an extremely weak non conference schedule), and were always competitive in SEC play (minus the Florida game); however, there's no doubt that they are slowly settling back to Earth after seemingly becoming SEC contenders just two seasons ago.
This year, Kentucky brings in some pretty good talent, but there are questions as to whether or not they are on the same level as the very powerful SEC East.
The big story this offseason in Lexington is the highly-athletic Randall Cobb's switch from quarterback to wide receiver. Cobb, who saw increased playing time as the season progressed, ran for 316 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman.
Rich Brooks wants Cobb to become more of an offensive specialist, and let returning passing leader Mike Hartline have full-time starting duties at quarterback.
Alfonso Smith and speedy Derrick Locke top off a pretty solid group of athletic tailbacks, but that is pretty much as far as production goes.
The Cats lose their Dicky Lyons, who led the team in receiving last year with just 33 catches. Locke placed second with 23 catches.
Cobb and returning starter E.J. Adams seem less than likely to be serious receiving threats, and it appears Kentucky is going to be very one dimensional on offense next year.
The defense has some very good athletes, but took a huge hit with the recent departure of All-SEC caliber defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, who was recently selected in the NFL's supplemental draft.
Kentucky will return just three defensive starters from last season. Although cornerback Trevard Lindley has All-American written all over him, and middle linebacker Micah Johnson returns as a stud in the middle, this defense will likely not be up to snuff.
Kentucky has some extremely talented athletes, but there just isn't enough of them to go around. Unless Rich Brooks and company are good with smoke and mirrors, expect another mediocre football season in Lexington.
Non-conference opponents: Miami (OH), Louisville, UL Monroe, Eastern Kentucky
Conference (Home/Away): Florida, Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee/ @ South Carolina, @ Auburn, @ Vanderbilt, @ Georgia
Predicted record: 5-7 overall, 1-7 in conference