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ESPN.com’s Chris Lowe expects Kentucky football “should be improved”

uk football helmetBy LARRY VAUGHT

ESPN’s Chris Low can break down college football as well as anyone. Here’s the end of his preseason look at Kentucky on ESPN.com.

Final analysis: On the surface, the 2014 schedule doesn’t look quite as menacing as a year ago when the Wildcats faced five teams that finished the season ranked in the Top 25, including four teams that finished in the top 15 nationally. A home game with Alabama is replaced by an away game with LSU, so that’s essentially a wash. But the Wildcats get Mississippi State in Lexington, which should make that game a little more manageable. There won’t be anything easy about the second half of the schedule. The Wildcats play five straight weeks against SEC opponents without a break, starting with the road trip to LSU on Oct. 18 and ending with a trip to Tennessee on Nov. 15. The first order of business is simply winning an SEC game. Kentucky hasn’t beaten an SEC team since the end of the 2011 season. But Stoops has recruited well, and this is a team that should be improved. Making a run at a bowl game isn’t out of the realm of possibility. But if the Wildcats are going to do that, they have to be at least 4-2 heading into the second half of the season.

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  1. Larry Pup

    Five SEC games in a row with no break is just plain crazy. They get a bye week between UF and Vandy, and a bye week between UT and Louisville. I like the break before the Louisville game though. Anyway you slice it, this is a tough schedule.

  2. Ira

    I want to know who thought it was a great idea to trade a home with Bama for an away game with LSU. seems like UK repeatedly gets hosed in these schedules. I guess we were still needed this year again to help pad one of the top 2 SEC West teams this season.

  3. David

    I still think we have a good shot at beating Florida this year even though it is played down in the swamp. I also think we have an excellent chance at beating Vandy and Miss ST. If we can win 2 out of those three I would say we have improved a lot. Beat Louisville and they have made my year.

    I will be heading back oversea’s this week, but will be reading Vaughts views every chance I get. I hope to make it back on RR during the season so I can take in a game or two. So everyone hold down the fort for me.

    1. Larry Pup

      God bless you David. You take care of yourself.

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks Larry P and Love SEC football. Hope to meet you guys sometime in the future.

    2. Love SEC F-Ball

      Love your enthusiasm for football, David.
      Stay safe -. our prayers will include you.
      Keep us posted when you can

  4. Andy

    The teams we may have a legitimate shot of beating are Vandy, UF, Miss St and possibly TN.
    LSU, Georgia, UL and Missouri are extremely difficult considering our lack of depth given our depth with WR’s and no dominant tight ends.

    This team will still rely on the defense to carry them more than the offense IMO. Realistically a 5 win season is attainable and I hope I am wrong and that the wildcats can go bowling.

  5. TheProfessor

    Based on last year’s performance, this team figures to win only 3 games, but any reasonable improvement at all over last year will put 3 additional games in play, with a legitimate chance to win any of them. Beyond that, the amount of improvement must be sufficient match the most improved teams in the SEC for the season. while that is not out of the question, it is much less likely. However, that type of historic improvement could bring 3 more games into play.

    I believe this UK team will be improved over last year, the question that can’t be answered until the season is underway is how much improved. Also, which of these opponents will slip some from their performance levels last season. Out of the 14 teams, 5 to 7 will slip, and 5 to 7 will improve. UK improvement coupled with opponent slippage is necessary to bring most of the other 9 games into the W column from the L column.

    I am hopeful of 5 wins. I believe 6 wins are possible, and 7 wins should be enough for Coach Stoops to get COY honors.

    1. Love SEC F-Ball

      Where have you been Prof.? Missed your comments.
      Maybe you tend to post more when we have actual stats. to review?

      As usual, I agree 100% with your comments. Good point about the slippage & improvement of our opponents as well. Who would have thought that Fla. & Tn. would slip & Mizzou. & Vandy would improve like they have. It seems to take about 1/3 of the season before we know how teams are lining up.

      Win or lose, I am looking for the improvement on both Offense & Defense that you outlined some time back.

  6. Bill

    I love optimism but sometimes it needs to be tempered with a bit of reality. Everyone wants to include Miss State in their potential “wins.” I think they are all potential wins but Miss State has high expectations for this year. They’ve set a ticket sales record based on the defense that’s returning 8 defensive linemen and 2 of 3 starting LB’s. They will be tough defensively. They will try and run over and around you offensively. Just saying this is a formidable team. Florida has stockpiled a lot of athletic talent. If they stay healthy they will be very difficult. Vandy is a question mark with a new coach and some talent loss. Franklin didn’t leave the cupboard bare though. They return 4 starting offensive linemen. This is one of the more winnable games. Tennessee? They have recruited well the past two years. Here’s where my blue blood probably blinds me. I want to beat them too much. Same with Petrino and Louisville. We have to make real improvement in quarterback play … completing the routine passes and not doing anything stupid – like turnovers. Improved QB play means improved OL play to protect our QB’s. If we have this I think we’ll be very competitive.

  7. TJ Wren

    First off no way will Kentucky only win 3 games. I have been watching Kentucky football my whole life and last years team could have easily won 4-5 games if the ball would have bounced the other way on a couple of plays. I am being realistic when I say a 5-7 or 6-6 year is what i am expecting. I think we have 3 easy wins and out of the other 9 we will win at least 2 or 3 of those games. We are a program on this rise. We have a great D-line which should cause all kinds of havoc in the backfield. I see LB Henderson and Forrest to have big years. Our DBs have been young the last 2 years. We have alot of SO’s and JRs who have played alot the last couple of years and under Stoops and DJ our defense should improve night and day from last year to this year look at Stoops track record the second year is when he usually takes off. Then the offense come on now it can only get better from last years team. We should have Towles who I believe if he stays working hard all summer can have a great first full year starting. He was incredible out of high school and had basically the same rating as Drew Barker who will get his 2 years to start maybe more barring injuries. I think our RB unit will be way better and our WR’s will be way better with blue having his second year in the SEC and Timmons, Badet, Montgomery,Robinson, and a freshman to step up along with Cunningham. My 2 sleepers on Offense are Badet and Heard. I think we know what to expect with Jo Jo but Heard is something we havent seen around here in awhile a taller power back. Which in the SEC were the LBs are usually nice sized he will have just the speed to break from arm tackles.On defense my 2 sleepers are Harmon and Henderson. Remember me saying that. Henderson has a nose for the ball and he has perfect outside speed. Harmon has great height for the CB position and should get at least 4 ints his Sophomore year.

    1. Woohop

      TJ WREN…..no one has said it any better than you! How refreshing it is to see an outlook built upon a “glass half full”! When we say that we should win the first three games because they are easy, I might say the same thing, but in a different perspective. That is, if we don’t win the first three games in ” a easy and big way”, then IMO we don’t have the team to win the 5-6 games we want to win. We can’t struggle through these early games and expect an improvement later on to save the year. Whether it be Towles or Philips, or Smith, we have to have consistency and competency at the QB position to have a good season. You are so right by mentioning how close we were in several games, and how well we are staffed at key positions this year. They all are, however, adjuncts to the QB position and depend on an offensive momentum that controls the ball and puts points on the board. Hoping for the best!! GBB.

  8. RJ

    I line up with the professor on this one except not quite as optimistic. I think 5 wins is a stretch but an attainable goal. Six wins is going to take a lot of luck.

    New QB, new receivers, new O-line and a bunch of new defensive guys. While practice is great, it’s going to take some time for these guys to learn their game roles and play together. By that time, most of the what are supposed to be gimmie games are gone. Its going to be another tough year.

    I’ll be in the stands for every game like last year but there are no easy games this time around.

  9. Kokamo Joe

    Let us not get carried away. All SEC games will be tough. Louisville will be tough. We have dropped Western and picked up a cup cake, making us have three sure fire wins. I will be happy if we pick up a win along the way against the SEC or UL. A couple of wins would be great. Next year is the year to count on seeing the great recruiting really burst forth. I envy those who can get hyped up, but I don’t envy the frustration they feel when reality hits.

  10. UKFMLY

    Lots of good reasoning to support opinions on this one. Lots of optimism with an underlying current of caution. The Blue in me says 6 and the brain says 5.



    1. Love SEC F-Ball

      I agree. I stared last year thinking we would win 2 games & by the time the season started, I was sure that we would win 6.

      Enjoyed the article & all of the comments. The writer seems to recognize the rebuilding effort of Coach Stoops.

  11. Ira

    Lots of people think we can beat FL. FL won’t be running the pro set offense this season. They are returning to their spread offense. The offense where FL’s athletes excel in. FL’s D has been tough last few years. I don’t see it as easy as some others here do.

    The schedule
    8/30 vs UT Martin Win
    9/06 vs OH. Win
    9/13 At FL L
    9/27 vs Vandy Win
    10/04 vs USCjr. L
    10/11 vs ULM Win
    10/18 at LSU L
    10/25 vs Miss ST. L
    11/01 at Mizzou L
    11/08 vs Georgia L
    11/15 at Tenn W
    11/29 at Louisville W

    This is my expectations for the season. Although I think we may get lucky and knock off another unsuspecting SEC team other than Tenn. Believe we will finish anywhere from 5-7 thru 7-5. Most likely a 6-6 team on this season with a minor bowl. Now if the QB’s don’t live up to billing again we can write the above season off.

    1. Larry Pup

      Florida is never easy in Gainesville, and I don’t care what offense they run. If UK can pull it off, it would be a huge upset, and it would set the stage for the makings of a very good season. UK needs that monkey off their backs now, with the string of Florida wins coming to and end. Can UK do it? UK football has always been a boiling caldron of psychological barriers, coupled with a lack of SEC talent. The talent level at UK is rising now under Stoops. Bottom line is, they have got to find a way to beat this team. On the other hand, this Florida team will not want to be the one that loses to lowly UK. UK must forget the past and play inspired football in the “Swamp” and put the pressure on the Gators from start to finish. I believe in this UK team, I am looking for an upset.

    2. RJ


      I think you are spot on with analysis. I would add one more caution however. We have to be able to catch the ball. Nothing will frustrate QB’s and cause mistakes like drops, especially young QB’s. Like in the past, I think we lose an easy one again this season. 5 wins tops.

    3. Love SEC F-Ball

      Ira, Enjoyed your post. Like you, I just cant see beating Fla. in the swamp while rebuilding. Hope you are right about six wins & a bowl – That would be huge progress over last year.
      Also hope you are right about the last two games – Beating TN & UL to get to a bowl – WOW.

      I am hoping that we take of business with Vandy, that Mizzou is not as strong as last year & we sneak up on Miss. St. in Lex. – Still, not ready to predict six wins, but can always hope. Will remember your prediction if we do. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  12. Paul

    UL without Teddy is doable !

    1. Edward

      Caution, Petrino has already beat UK with fewer weapons than Louisville now possesses.

      1. Larry Pup

        Amen Edward. That Louisville game is worrisome, especially with Petrino donning the headset I don’t have much use for BP, but I admire him greatly as a college football coach, and he will have the Cardinals prepared. I believe that game is the most important game on The CATS schedule. Boy does UK need that win to bolster their clout in the instate recruiting battles and bragging rights. Coach Stoops needs to get this one. I’m sure he knows the importance of that one for sure.

  13. Larry Pup

    How about a little faith boys. If we are gonna doubt this team can cut it this year, think on this, Tennessee will be a tough game in Knoxville, especially after playing 4 straight SEC games. UK will be fresh when they play Florida. I say it all depends on the guy under center and the OLine. We will not know how much progress has been made until they line up and play. Most everybody is touting Towles at QB now. All this work under his belt with the QB guru and all, we’ll see. There is much more talent on UK’s team now. The fan in me says UK can win 6 maybe 7. I sure would love to see it. It can happen with some luck and the bounce of the ball in UK’s favor. GO Blue!!!

  14. Edward

    LP, the Gators may very well be in some disarray following the defections and terminations on their coaching staff. Also, some of their recruits may not hold their commitments. As for the redbirds, we have two weeks to get ready for them following our trip to Knoxville, while they could have some significant injuries upon returning from South Bend.

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