2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Kentucky

HOOVER, Ala. - Dean Legge's look at the 2013 Kentucky Wildcats.

November 23, 2013
Sanford Stadium
Overall Record: 52-12-2
Last 10 Meetings: 8-2
Richt vs. Kentucky: 10-2

It never gets any easier for Kentucky.

A year after dismissing Joker Phillips, Mark Stoops stepped into the Bluegrass for his first head coaching job in college football.

Stoops has a challenge on his hands.

Kentucky has always struggled to find its way in SEC football, but with Vanderbilt's stellar back-to-back efforts and the addition of Missouri in 2012, the Wildcats' path to Atlanta just got even more difficult.

So what is success at Kentucky? Ask Rich Brooks. The former Wildcat coach was the most successful coach at the school in the last three decades, and he never won more than eight games as head coach in Lexington.

What Brooks did was provide Kentucky fans something to be proud of on the gridiron. Expectations were not through the roof – no one thought Kentucky was going to win the SEC East. Instead, Big Blue Nation was proud to go to four bowl games in succession – something that had not been accomplished in the history of the school's football program.

Kentucky fans just want to win their fair share, and that's not too much to ask. But the question remains as to whether Stoops can accomplish that feat.

Kentucky player to watch:
Avery Williamson
6-1, 241
Williamson was one of the more underappreciated linebackers in the SEC last year, ranking second in the conference in total tackles. Perhaps that's because Kentucky's defensive unit was among the worst in the league, allowing 391 yards and 31 points per game.

"Everybody kind of looks over you, and you've got to just show them that you deserve to be in the SEC and that you belong," Williamson said last fall. "That's what I've been out to prove since I've been here."

Williamson had a team-high 13 tackles against Georgia last year, and was a major factor in holding the Bulldogs to just 77 rushing yards, the team's lowest output all season. He said before the game that Kentucky's goal was to disrupt the Georgia ground attack, and that's exactly what they did. Kentucky had Georgia on its toes throughout much of last October's contest, and the Wildcats were quite close to pulling off a major upset.

2013 Kentucky Schedule

Aug 31 vs. W. Kentucky
Sep 07 Miami (OH)
Sep 14 Louisville
Sep 28 Florida
Oct 05 at South Carolina
Oct 12 Alabama
Oct 26 at Mississippi State
Nov 02 Alabama State
Nov 09 Missouri
Nov 16 at Vanderbilt
Nov 23 at Georgia
Nov 30 Tennessee

What the Dawgs must do:
Beat Kentucky like a drum. The Cats played pretty well in Lexington for a program that had given up on its coach. But playing in Athens has been a massive challenge for Big Blue. The Cats have only won one contest in Georgia from 1979 on – an upset of Georgia in 2009.

Inside the numbers:
In his last two games, admittedly one of them was the Wildcats spring game, sophomore quarterback Jalen Whitlow has averaged 253 yards of total offense. Whitlow left last year's Georgia game with a migraine but is expected to be the starter this year and could have a breakout year under first-year offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who tutored under Mike Leach.

Recruiting Implications:
Very little. There are times when Kentucky comes to Georgia to pick up the crumbs left over after Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Clemson and others have their dinner. The fact of the matter is that Kentucky couldn't get the top player from Georgia if they had to, and Georgia could be in the mix for the top player in the Commonwealth if the situation were to occur. The last four-star player to sign with the Cats from Georgia was LaGrange WR Emmanual Harrell in 2003.

Last year's prediction: Focus will be key for Georgia when it travels to the Bluegrass in October. The game comes a week before the annual trip to Jacksonville, and while the Bulldogs have played better in Lexington of late the game is always dangerous. If Georgia's defense plays well they won't lose.

That didn't happen. Georgia's defense didn't play well, but Aaron Murray pulled the Dawgs out from the Bluegrass with an ugly win.

2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Kentucky
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Auburn
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Florida
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Vanderbilt
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at LSU
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Missouri
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Tennessee
2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at S. Carolina

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