Question: The offensive line lost four starters to graduation. How has this new unit developed?
Answer: This unit has become a team within a team according to Joker. There is still competition at the center position and at the right tackle position. But whether Matt Smith or Jake Lanefski win the role at center or Brad Durham or Billy Joe Murphy win the role at right tackle, the unit will be strong. Chandler Burden, Stuart Hines and Larry Warford have nailed down their spots and are performing admirably. The Wildcats should have no problem running the ball consistently this season and if pass blocking continues to improve, this team should be very strong offensively.
Question: How much will losing Corey Peters hurt the defensive line?
Answer: Peters is irreplaceable by a single player, but as a unit, each player had to improve on his own to help balance out the loss. Ricky Lumpkin, who has struggled with strength and injuries throughout his career, has had a solid camp and a great off-season. Peters has added 25-pounds of muscle and has the experience to lead the defensive tackles. Shane McCord will likely start along side Lumpkin, but freshman Donte Rumph and junior Mark Crawford will provide depth to this unit.
Question: How will Kentucky's linebacker corps develop?
Answer: We know who the starters are: Danny Trevathan, Jacob Dufrene and Ronnie Sneed. Developing depth at the linebacker slots is a question, however. There is precious little experience at linebacker. Speed and instinct can make up for a lot, but experience can be the deciding factor. Qua Huzzie, Avery Williamson, Jewell Ratliff and Ridge Wilson should all get quality time in backup roles this season. One thing about this group is that they are fast and they are aggressive. Linebacker may be a struggle early, but a few games into the season, this group could reach it's stride.
Question: Will Randall Cobb run the Wildcat often?
Answer: The Wildcat will be used tactically. It's going to be a change-of-pace type of offense, not the base offense. Cobb is only 185-pounds and can't continue to take the beating that he's had to endure the last couple of seasons. However, two other players could also be in the Wildcat this season. Jerrell Priester and Raymond Sanders are both in line to get snaps out of the Wildcat to take pressure off of Cobb. Expect that Wildcat to be a little less predictable this season as well with more handoffs and more variation in where the ball is carried.
Question: Which freshman will make an impact this year?
Answer: Several freshman will take off their redshirts this year. Jerrell Priester, Raymond Sanders, Avery Williamson, Tyler Robinson, Nermin Delic, Jewell Ratliff, Donte Rumph and Joe Mansour will all play. Elliott Porter, Brice Laughlin, Dale Trimble, Brandon Gainer and Eric Simmons could all play this year, but there's a chance that most of them will redshirt.
Question: Who's the quarterback?
Answer: Mike Hartline has won the position after the staff opened up the competition to Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski. While both young players worked hard to earn the role, neither could do enough to unseat Hartline. Hartline has been the most consistent passer and the best at running the full offense which makes the team more potent and less predictable on that side of the ball.
Question: Will Kentucky blitz more often?
Answer: There's really no way to tell. Joker says he expects the defense to attack more and with the speed, the defense will have to be more aggressive, using their speed. None of that means Kentucky blitz more than it has in previous seasons. But with Phillips taking over as head coach, with his own philosophies and defensive line coach David Turner stepping in with his own techniques, Steve Brown's defense will definitely do some different things than in the past.
Question: Which player has been the biggest surprise of camp?
Answer: There are a few freshmen who have surprised the staff with their ability to learn schemes and adjust to the speed at this level. Raymond Sanders and Jerrell Priester will be big weapons for Phillips on offense and special teams. Defensively, Donte Rumph has always been talented, but the staff didn't know how good he was until he got onto the field. However the biggest surprise may be Tyler Robinson. Robinson was thought to certainly be a redshirt this season and could have even been moved to interior lineman. Now Robinson is the second string tight end and has impressed with his blocking and aggressiveness. He's also shown a knack for running routes and getting open.
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