2017 East Preview: Kentucky

By: 
Collin Brister
Sports Writer

Offense
The Wildcat offense got much betters as the season went on last season, and junior quarterback Stephen Jennings got accustomed to the starting role.
Kentucky went into the 2016 season with Drew Barker as their starter, but that quickly changed when Barker came up limp and missed the rest of the year with an injury.
Jennings struggled initially to adapt to being a starting quarterback in the SEC, but as time went on you could tell that he was gaining more and more confidence and that he was ready to break out and help the Wildcats get to a bowl game.
Kentucky made their first bowl game last season under Mark Stoops, who was in his third season in the Commonwealth State. To make it even sweeter, they did it by beating their rival Louisville to gain that sixth win.
Kentucky’s offense isn’t flashy by any stretch of the imagination, but they have guys at the skill positions that can burn you deep if you let them. Jennings ability to take the football down and run it when plays broke down was paramount for the Wildcats in the 2016 season, and it’ll likely be a hugh part of their offense again.
Defense
Kentucky’s defense struggled last season, and there wasn’t much hope for them towards the end of the year.
They’ll have a plethora of guys returning to man that defense, however, and they’ll likely be much better on that side of the football in 2017.
The struggled mightily to contain the run, and that really hurt them in the secondary. Kentucky’s secondary was athletic enough to make plays, but they were having to commit so many players to stopping the run that they were vulnerable to getting beat over the top by the passing game on a consistent basis.
Non-Conference and Western Division Games
Southern Mississippi-The Golden Eagles trailed early last year when they went to Lexington, but thy were able to erase a Kentucky lead and come back to win the first game of the year. Kentucky will travel to Hattiesburg this season looking for revenge.
Mississippi State-The Wildcats were able to beat Mississippi State for the first time in the Mark Stoops era as they knocked home a field goal to win.
Ole Miss-Kentucky hasn’t played Ole Miss since 2011, which was former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt’s last game as head coach.
Louisville-The Wildcats were able to get the best of their rival last season, so the Cardinals will be looking for revenge on the last Saturday in November.

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