Kentucky had to replace offensive coordinator Neal Brown after last season when he became the coach at Troy. Mark Stoops hired Shannon Dawson to run his offense after spending his previous three years as the offensive coordinator at West Virginia where the Mountaineers ranked 12th in the nation in total offense last season.
Patrick Towles won the quarterback job in fall camp, and he’s a name that Florida players are familiar with. He threw for 369 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Gators’ triple-overtime win over Kentucky last season. He completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
This season, Towles has completed 58.7 percent of his throws for three touchdowns and two interceptions while average 224.5 passing yards per game. His 6-5, 240-pound frame is tough to bring down in the pocket, and Towles can move surprisingly well for someone his size.
The Wildcats have a capable backup in Drew Barker, a former four-star recruit that was beaten out by Towles in fall camp.
Kentucky will use three running backs in the game, but it’s Stanley Williams that will lead the way. Through the first two games of the season, Williams has rushed 24 times for 242 yards and one touchdown, averaging 10.1 yards per carry. Jojo Kemp has 16 rushes for 112 yards and one touchdown while Mikel Horton has eight rushes for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
All three of the Kentucky backs have a higher yards per carry average than the three running backs -- Jordan Cronkrite, Jordan Scarlett and Kelvin Taylor -- Florida has used this year.
The Wildcats’ leading receiver is Garrett Johnson, who had 154 yards and two touchdowns in Gainesville last season. This year, Johnson has nine catches for 124 yards and one touchdown. The two other starting receivers are Dorian Baker (seven catches and 101 yards) and Jeff Badet (five catches, 99 yards and one touchdown). Baker had four catches for 37 yards against Florida last season and Badet didn’t play.
All three of the Kentucky receivers have more yards than any Florida receiver.
No Kentucky tight end has made a catch this season. C.J. Conrad is listed as the starter on the depth chart with Darryl Long as the backup, but both are true freshmen.
Left tackle Jordan Swindle started every game during the 2013 and 2014 season, giving the Wildcats a clear answer at the position. Left guard Zach West has started 30 games over the last three seasons. Center Jon Toth has started 23 games over the last two seasons. Right guard Ramsey Meyers started every game as a redshirt freshman last season and was voted to the Freshman All-SEC team. Right tackle George Asafo-Adjei is a redshirt freshman that has started the first two games of the year.
With four returning starters from the offensive line last season, Kentucky has an experienced front to protect Towles.
With Stoops’ background on the defensive side of the football and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot has been at Kentucky with Stoops all three years. The two also worked together at Florida State before making the move to Lexington. There’s continuity on the defensive side of the ball for the Wildcats.
At defensive end, the Wildcats will start Farrington Huguenin. The senior has been a backup for the last three years, making 18 tackles off the bench last season behind Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. He has seven tackles and one quarterback hurry through the first two games this year.
At the defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid position, the Wildcats use redshirt freshman Denzil Ware. He has seven tackles, one tackle for a loss and one quarterback hurry.
At defensive tackle, Kentucky will start Melvin Lewis and Regie Meant. Lewis has 10 tackles and two tackles for loss, including one sack. Meant has seven tackles.
Middle linebacker Josh Forrest leads the Wildcats with 22 tackles with one sack, one interception, four pass breakups and five pass deflections. He led the Kentucky team in tackles last year and was third in the SEC with 110.
Strong side linebacker Jabari Johnson has 10 tackles and 0.5 tackles for a loss. This is his first season as a full-time starter.
The Wildcats look like they’ll be without weak side linebacker Ryan Flannigan, who has a shoulder injury in fall camp and has missed the first two games of the year after a strong close to the 2014 season. Without Flannigan, Khalid Henderson is the likely starter. Henderson is second on the team with 20 tackles, including two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hurries.
Freshman Chris Westry was named SEC Freshman of the Week after clinching the win over South Carolina with a fourth quarter interception. The Orange Park, Fla. product also has one sack, one pass breakup, two pass deflections and one quarterback hurry on the season.
Across the field is senior Cody Quinn, who has seven tackles, one pass breakup, one pass deflection and one fumble recovery.
Senior A.J. Stamps is an important member of the Kentucky defense, currently third on the team with 13 tackles, adding two pass breakups and two pass deflections.
The opposite safety is Marcus McWilson, who is fourth on the team with 12 tackles. This is his first year as a full-time starter.