2004 Kentucky Wildcats Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Rich Brooks (4-8) <br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 4-8 (1-7 SEC) <br><br> <b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 1999 Music City Bowl (20-13 loss to <!--Default NodeId For Syracuse is 384,2004--><A HREF=http://syracuse.TheInsiders.com>Syracuse</A>) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 5 at <!--Default NodeId For Louisville is 438,2004--><A HREF=http://louisville.TheInsiders.com>Louisville</A>, ESPN 3:30 PM

Star Power: Shane Boyd, QB, SR, 6-2, 228 ; Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns, DE, SR, 6-2, 268; Keenan Burton, WR, SO, 6-2, 195; Durrell White, OLB, SO, 6-3, 258.

Notable Additions: Micah Jones, OL, Mayfield(HS)/Mayfield, KY; Ernie Pelayo, OL, Southwestern College(JC)/Riverside, Ca; Marcus McClinton, FS, Ft. Campbell(HS)/Ft. Campbell, KY; Wesley Woodyard, SS, LaGrange(HS)/LaGrange, GA; Lonnell DeWalt, WR, Warren Central(HS)/Bowling Green, KY.

Notable Subtractions: Derek Abney, WR (NFL); Jeremy Caudill (Graduated); Antonio Hall, (Graduated); Jared Lorenzen, QB (Graduated); Nick Seitze (Graduated).

Notable Returnees: Muhammad Abudallah, FS; Chad Anderson, ILB; Arliss Beach, RB; Earven Flowers, CB; Glenn Holt, WR; Matt Huff, OL; Ellery Moore, DT; Dustin Williams, ILB; Mike Williams, SS; Warren Wilson, CB.

10/16/04South Carolina
10/30/04@Mississippi State
Offensive Overview: For the Wildcats, the stoic novel "The Tale of Two Cities" became the "Tale of Two Offenses." The bipolar nature of year one under Ron Hudson's control became a frustrating habit for most of the year. In an offense designed to eat clock and field position, it did neither on many occasions, with three and out series becoming common place. The other side of the story however paints the picture of one of the most dangerous offenses in the SEC, leading the league in red-zone efficiency. To put it simply, if you kept Kentucky in-between the 20's, you won the game.

This contrast in success led to a 4-8 squad that could have been at the very least 6-6, maybe better. Just a few more broken tackles and a few less dropped balls, it could have been a different story, which should be a point of emphasis in year two. With a full season under their belts, the returning players shouldn't look quite as lost and disoriented as they did last season. This is not truer for any player more than senior Shane Boyd (QB), whose atrocious completion percentage (34.9%) from 2003 needs to improve, drastically. The offensive line that underachieved last year must overachieve with three starters leaving for graduation. This leaves seniors Matt Huff and Jason Rollins to anchor an otherwise inexperienced unit that includes only 9 scholarship players. Newcomer Micah Jones will also be looked at extensively in fall ball to determine if the true frosh is ready for the SEC.

Wide receiver is the most talented position on the team, including returnee's Glenn Holt (JR) and Keenan Burton (SO) who both could be all-SEC by senior year. Junior college transfer Scott Mitchell has an NFL body and needs to step up his play with senior Tommy Cook out for the year with an ACL injury. The tight ends also receive an upgrade with 4 new players this year, highlighted by Eric Scott, a redshirt freshman that had an impressive spring campaign.

At running back, Arliss Beach (JR) and Draak Davis (JR) need to step up their game to prevent talented true freshman Rafael Little an early entry into the starting lineup. Point of emphasis: breaking more tackles.

It will be a successful year if the offense can simply cut down on the mistakes.

Defensive Overview: Defensive Coordinator Mike Archer has taken hold of the wildcat faithful with the defenses play of 2003, but all that love will be gone if the 3-4 based defense does not continue to develop. Returning 10 of 11 starters from last season, as well as many backups, if the defense does not improve on its running defense and continue its stellar pass defense (top 30 in the nation) there will be questions to answer.

In a defense that thrives on linebacker play, the Wildcats sport a few that may be considered some of the best in the SEC by years end. Durrell White (OLB, SO) has gained 15 lbs over the summer and has kept his quickness. Chad Anderson (ILB, SR), who began to step up as a leader last season for the defense has trimmed down and looks to continue his tackling prominence from last season. The Defensive Line is the second most talented unit on the team, with players like Vincent Burns (DE, SR), Lamar Mills (DT, SO), and Trey Mielsch (DE, JR).

The secondary needs to continue its ability to keep Kentucky away from the "big play." Again, the removal of mental mistakes, and the play of Warren Wilson (CB, JR) and Karl Booker (CB, SO) will be important having lost starter Bo Smith to an off-season injury. Look for the addition of Wesley Woodyard (SS, FR) to compliment starter Muhammad Abudallah (SS, JR) as the defense looks for more turnovers in 2004.

Overall, Kentucky's defense was improved, but still rated 11th in the SEC in total defense in 2003. More commitment to rush defense and continuing to prevent the big play are needed for success in '04.

Special Teams Overview: Removing the most prolific kick returner in the history of the SEC in Derek Abney will be tough, but don't think the coaching staff did not try. Richard "Dicky" Lyons, Jr. (WR, TFR), son of the previous king of special teams Dicky Lyons of Kentucky fame, brings another relentless, fearless kick returner to add to pure athletes such as Keenan Burton. The punting in 2003 was inconsistent at best, and Sevin Sucurovic (P, SR) will be looked to as the main man in '04. Returning at place kicker will be Taylor Begley (K, JR) who just did not get enough chances last year. Taking care of kickoffs is Clint Ruth (K, SR) who Head Coach Rich Brooks proclaimed as "the best kickoff man in the league" during Media Days.

The Wildcats should have a winning season and go to a bowl this year if... Offensive line produces. If Kentucky can run the ball, and control the clock to reduce the effects of a shortage in scholarships, Kentucky has the talent to compete in every game this season. Even with the offensive woes and inability to stop the run, Kentucky was close in every game until fatigue wore into the defense in the 4th quarter. If the O-line can produce first downs, Coach Brooks can produce wins.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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