The Wildcats still don't have a confirmed starter at the quarterback position, although Stoops indicated the staff has made its decision between sophomores Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow. That choice will not be announced publicly prior to the game, he added, but UK still plans to play both at some point during the game.
"We're not going to set anything in stone," Stoops said. "We don't want to tell these players something that's not true. We'll name the starter, and the starter's going to go out there and go. He's going to run with it. But we do plan on playing both quarterbacks, yes. But if the other guys' rolling and we're doing well, then we might stick with him."
The offensive line features former walk-on Max Godby earning the starting assignment at center. Earlier in the week, the junior from Louisville was awarded a scholarship by Stoops. He'll be flanked by Kevin Mitchell at right guard and either Teven Eatmon-Nared or Zach West at left guard. The starting tackles are Jordan Swindle and Darrian Miller at right at left, respectively. Many of those players will also serve as backups at other positions as UK continues to work toward quality depth in the unit.
Jordan Aumiller gets the starting nod at tight end, backed up by Anthony Kendrick. Both seniors have earned high praise from the staff during fall camp.
At wide receiver, the first group features Demarco Robinson, junior college transfer Javess Blue and either Daryl Collins or highly-touted freshman Ryan Timmons. The second group includes Alex Montgomery, Jeff Badet and A.J. Legree. One of the most improved areas on the team since spring practice, the receiver corps could have all four newcormers (Blue, Timmons, Montgomery and Badet) playing early snaps.
"He's a guy that we're all excited about," Stoops said of Timmons, who has also gotten reps in the backfield and as a return specialist. "He'll be out there. He'll play quite a bit."
The running back position has featured very little drama in fall camp with senior Raymond Sanders starting and fellow senior Jonathan George backing him up. Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown have both predicted a potential breakout year for Sanders in UK's new offense.
When the Wildcats use a fullback, it will be D.J. Warren, backed up by walk-on Cody Jones.
On the defensive side of the ball, Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble will start at defensive tackle with Tristian Johnson and Mike Douglas as the primary backups. Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith are the starters at end with Farrington Huguenin, Jason Hatcher and TraVaughn Paschal expected to get snaps as reserves.
Avery Williamson has long been penciled in as the starter at middle linebacker (backed by Miles Simpson) but the biggest question mark on D.J. Eliot's unit during fall camp has been the outside linebackers. Khalid Henderson gets the starting nod at weakside linebacker with Josh Forrest backing him up. The other linebacker spot is being deemed a "nickel" position with smaller, speedier players like Kory Brown and Blake McClain manning the first and second teams.
Returning starters Cody Quinn and Fred Tiller get the nod at cornerback. They'll be backed up by juco transfer Nate Willis and freshman Jaleel Hytchye.
"He missed a lot this summer, so he's working his way back into shape," Stoops said of Willis. "That's hurt him a little bit, as you would expect. He's just not as physically prepared as the rest of our team."
At safety, the Cats will feture Ashely Lowery and Eric Dixon as the starters with Glenn Faulkner and Daron Blaylock in the backup roles.
Joe Mansour will handle the kicking duties with Austin McGinnis in a backup role. Landon Foster will start as punter. Mansour is his backup.