2011 Record: 5-7; 2-6 SEC
2011 Bowl: N/A
Head Coach: Joker Phillips
Odds to win SEC: 200/1
Odds to win SEC East Div: 50/1
Betting Futures from Bovada
Morgan Newton headed up a horribly disappointing offense last year, one which ranked 117th in the nation in scoring and last place in the SEC with only 15.8 points per game. Max Smith took over for Newton in the eighth game of the season, and improvement was made. He completed 54 of 83 passes for 580 yards with 6 TDs and 2 INT in the final two scrimmages in spring. With Smith and freshman Patrick Towles (a top 10 QB recruit), things should get better, and 2011 is expected to be a slightly better year for the Cats, with them doubling their 2011 win total in the SEC (from one to two!).
The top four tailbacks return and 1000 yard receiver La’Rod King. They need to find a way to have more big lays, as they ranked last in the nation in 20+ yard plays last season. Demarco Robinson and Daryl Collins should help that cause, as Robinson caught nine passes for 146 yards in the Blue-White game. TEs Ronnie Shields and Anthony Kendrick combined for 13 receptions, as well.
Up front, they lost a lot of experience. They have a new left side with sophomore tackle Darrian Miller and redshirt freshman guard Zach West. Seniors Matt Smith and Larry Warford will make a difference at center and right guard, respectively, as well.
Joker Phillips is trying to increase the tempo for his offense this year, which can only help. Things just can’t get worse than last year.
They lost six starters on D and other than the DL, they have a lot of questions to be answered. LB is one of the problems, though, where all four starters are new. MLB Avery Williamson had 49 tackles as a backup last fall and Alvin Dupree showed a lot of promise as a pass rusher. It’s just that losing Winston Guy and Danny Trevathan will hurt a lot, as both were tackling studs.
At CB, they must replace both starters, but they could get better there with redshirt freshman Marcus Caffey and Cartier Rice manning the spots. Caffey was a tailback but looked great at CB in spring. Senior safety Martavius Neloms started 20 games so far in his career at UK, and should be a constant on defense.
Kicker Craig McIntosh made 12 of 14 field goals last year. Ryan Tydlacka is gone, though, and they don’t know who will punt this year. For returns, Collins and Robinson should be good for some decent plays.
Kentucky had made five straight bowls prior to last year, but the 5-7 record made such an impossibility last year. Things aren’t expected to get much better this year, with Athlon magazine predicting a regression to only four wins. Part of it is a tougher schedule that features Louisville, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. So, improvement might happen, it just won’t likely show in an improvement in their record.
Phillips urged fans to be patient, “Just wait and see. Don’t give up on this football team…”
With attendance dipping and only 4,500 fans showing up for the spring game, he can only hope that message is heeded by Cats fans.