Rich Brooks now has Kentucky fans excited, but they are not just piling into Rupp Arena. The Kentucky faithful are also filing into Commonwealth Stadium.
Brooks has led the Wildcats to back-to-back eight-win seasons. However, the Cats lost several key players with the departures of Andre Woodson, Keenan Burton, Rafael Little, and Wesley Woodyard.
In 2007, Kentucky had one of the most dangerous passing games in the country with Woodson under center. This year junior Curtis Pulley and sophomore Mike Hartline will battle for playing time.
Pulley has worked with the first string during his tenure in Lexington. He took over the starting spot from Woodson only to lose it before the regular season started.
Pulley is an athletic quarterback who needs to reassure the coaches by applying himself in the classroom. A dual threat to run and pass, Pulley has played at both quarterback and receiver and looks to elevate the Kentucky offense.
The Cats also have to replace one of the best football players in school history as Rafael Little has graduated.
Looking to fill Little's big shoes are senior Tony Dixon and the leading returning rusher, sophomore Derrick Locke. Locke, who piled up 521 rushing yards last year, was originally brought to Kentucky to run track.
The Cats will have to rebuild their receiving corps with Dicky Lyons being the only returning receiver with any experience. In 2007, Lyons hauled in 56 passes for 656 yards.
Juniors DeMoreo Ford and E.J. Adams look to fill the shoes of the departed Keenan Burton. Sophomore Kyrus Lanxter also is challenging for playing time.
The Cats will also feel the loss of Steve Johnson and Jacob Tamme. Looking to replace Tamme at tight end is T.C. Date, who reminds fans of Tamme because of his tall and lanky build.
The offensive line returns three starters. Right tackle Justin Jeffries looks to be the most dominant lineman on the team.
The defense has a solid group of players on the line. Jeremy Jarmon is the leader of the group and the best-looking player at present time.
Jarmon led the team with nine sacks and was a leader in the win over LSU. The Cats will also return both starting defensive tackles in Myron Pryor and Corey Peters.
The linebacking corps has been a strong point for the Cats for the past few seasons.
The player who had led the charge was Wesley Woodyard. This year senior Braxton Kelley moves to the outside to help replace Woodyard. Kelley was third on the team last year with 63 tackles.
Opposite of Kelley will be Johnny Williams. Williams is a senior who has shown flashes but has lacked consistency. The team will be breaking in a new middle backer as Micah Johnson steps in as a new starter but looks ready to break out.
The defensive backs are on a mission. Led by senior safety Marcus McClinton, the backs look to retain the positive attitude that the team has discovered.
McClinton registered 32 tackles last year despite missing five games due to injury.
The other safety will be Ashton Cobb. Cobb has sat and watched for two years and is ready for the spotlight.
The DBs are deeper than ever in Lexington. Junior corner Trevard Lindley has established himself as a feared cover corner and a great open field tackler after he registered 66 stops in 2007. He also led the team with three interceptions. Starting alongside Lindley is David Jones.
The schedule for the Cats is grueling. They travel to Louisville, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Commonwealth Stadium welcomes South Carolina, Georgia, and Vanderbilt.
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