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2011 Kentucky Wildcats Football Preview

Not a good year overall for Wildcat football. But, it was a great finish; ending "the streak" and handing Tennessee a devastating loss.

2011 Kentucky Wildcats Preview

Last Year: 2-6 (5th SEC East) 6-7 Overall

Starters Returning Offense: 4

Starters Returning Defense: 7

Starters Returning Special Teams: 2

It will be Cat scratch fever if: They can find a way to win the close games. A 6-7 record could have easily turned into a 10-2 record if they could have won the close games over Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee. A talented offensive line could get the Cats closer to bettering the six win mark, and open up the passing lanes for QB Morgan Newton, who has the potential to be one of the best signal callers in the SEC. The defense returns almost every play maker on the squad, including linebacker Danny Trevathan, who is as good as it gets in the conference.

Kentucky Wildcats

It will be a "Cat-Astrophy" if: The new players on the offensive side of the ball do not step up and contribute. Kentucky waved bye-bye to QB Mike Hartline, RB Derrick Locke and WR Randall Cobb, which means a load of talent and experience has left the job to several unproven players. As much as the defense is talented, they must find a way to improve on their numbers from last year, which were a dreadful 11th in rushing in the conference, as well as 10th in overall defense. That will not get it done in the SEC.

Schedule: Only four true road games are on the schedule, with a fifth being played in Nashville against Western Kentucky, means the Cats will be close to home for most of the year. However, the four road games are at LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Georgia, and that will not be easy. Come away with a split and things could get interesting because the home schedule has several winnable games in it. Looking at the out of conference schedule, Western Kentucky, Central Michigan, Jacksonville State and Louisville are all winnable games. If they take care of the games they should win, as well as a possible upset or two, beating the six win mark from last year is a certainty.

Intangibles: The Cats can take heart in knowing the Evil Axis of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee were finally denied a place in the SEC Championship game as South Carolina broke the hold they had on the division. Why not Kentucky? Just as USC had an unproven RB, a tenacious defense and a questionable QB, Kentucky can say the same things about their team. With a weak division this year, they have to believe they have as good a shot as anyone. If they can somehow figure out a way to beat Florida in their SEC opener, who knows what could happen?

Coach Scooter's Prediction: 5th in the SEC East

Kentucky Wildcats Coach

While it is true the East is not as strong as it once was, and any of the six teams have a chance to be in Atlanta at the end of the year (Well, as much as I would love to romanticize Vandy's chances, I cannot do that with a straight face) I think Kentucky will be hard pressed to win the games they will need to win if they want to be champions of the East. Seeing Florida, LSU and South Carolina three weeks in a row would be a tall order for anyone, especially when your team has questions on offense. Take heart, Wildcat fans, because no matter how rough the season could be, I have a feeling this might be the year Kentucky gets it done against Tennessee. For most of the 26 game losing streak, UK has had UT on the ropes, but strange things have happened. A fumble at the goal line. An OT winning field goal blocked. A first and goal inside the five-yard line when a TD would win the game was denied. All the breaks have gone with Vols way, so maybe this is the year the luck jumps over to their side. No matter the outcome of the first eleven games, if they can break the streak in Lexington on November 26th, this will be a season they will always remember.

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Last year (the first half of the season anyway) was exciting for UK football fans. Unfortunately, I am sure reality will set in again in 2011 when we …

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