Grading the Wildcats through nine games

KSR's Keith Taylor uses the bye week to grade out the performance of the Kentucky Wildcats to this point in the season. Through nine games the Wildcats are 6-3, and have already qualified for postseason play.

Since Kentucky isn't playing this week, thought we would keep the pigskin stove hot by observing the team's effort through the first nine games.

Of course Andre Woodson hasn't been a disappointment at all. Neither has the offensive line. The defense has improved and the offense has scored at will and random for the most part.

With the exception of a 14-point showing against Mississippi State last weekend, the offense has been solid and there's no reason why the same unit can't provide the same during the next three games.

During the conversation with Phillips, he kept talking about Steve Johnson and his abilities. Johnson has been a pleasant surprised at the wide receiver slot and has given the team one more option at wideout.

The first part of the season provided a perfect September, but October produced an upset over LSU, complete with losses to the Bulldogs, South Carolina and a close call against Florida.

The following is this writer's assessment of the season so far.

Offense: Grade A

Woodson has been extremely productive in the pocket and has so many weapons to choose from when it comes to throwing the football.

Dicky Lyons, Johnson, Keenan Burton and Jacob Tamme have done some big things and the offensive line has been a plus.

Eric Scott, Zipp Duncan, Jason Leger, Garry Williams and Justin Jeffries are the glue to the offensive front.

Despite the absence of Rafael Little during the past month, the running backs have picked up the slack, led by Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith and Derrick Locke.

John Conner has proven to be a vauluable tool, both blocking and running at fullback.

Defense: B minus

The grade would have been higher had the Wildcats not produced a letdown against Mississippi State. The defensive front has been solid, led by Jeremy Jarmon, Dominic Lewis, Corey Peters and Myron Pryor.

The linebackers' crew, anchored by Wesley Woodyard has been the staple, while the secondary has improved significantly.

The only difference between this year and last has been the team's ability to force turnovers. The ratio hasn't been as strong this time around.

Trevard Lindley has been the star in the secondary thus far, but a big concern will be the absence of Marcus McClinton for the rest of the season.

Special teams: C

Somewhat of a disappointment considering the kickoff and punt return teams have traditionally fared well in returning kicks to give the Cats an edge on returns.

Although more field position on returns would be nice, the team's offense can make up a lot of ground because of the ability to strike fast and at random.

Coaching: A

Rich Brooks has his own crop of players and doing very well with them and fans are falling in love with him.

When it comes to filling vacancies on his staff, Brooks has made all of the right moves and has a very talented staff in place right now.

Brooks deserves a pat on the back for staying the course and not wavering when the battle hasn't always been easy.

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