On offense, Andre' Woodson (6-5, 240, Jr.), is slated to lead the Wildcat's at quarterback for the second year. Last season, Woodson threw for 1,644 yards and six touchdowns while giving up six interceptions.
Challenging Woodson for the
starting job will Curtis Pulley (6-4, 203, So.), who complied 208 yards as the
backup last season, and the highly-touted incoming freshman Will Fidler (6-4,
205), who enrolled at
Whoever gets the nod at quarterback
will be joined in the passing game by returning lettermen receivers Keenan Burton (6-2, 195, Jr.), DeMoreo Ford (5-10, 189, So.), Dickey
Jacob Tamme (6-5, 240, Jr.), who started out as a wide receiver in 2004, will also return as a second-year starter at tight end. Tamme caught for 251 yards and one touchdown last season.
The most prominent returning player
Also playing a potential role at tailback will be Tony Dixon (5-9, 208, So.) who started at the position in six games for the Wildcats in 2004 before missing last season due to injury.
The fullback role looks to be filled this season by red-shirt freshman John Connor (5-11, 243), who was slated to play on the special teams as a true freshman last season before being sidelined due to injury.
The Kentucky offense line will bring back four of last years starters, including Trai Williams (6-4, 286, Sr.) and Michael Aitcheson (6-3, 300, Sr.) at the guards and tackles Hayden Lane 6-6, 283, Sr.) and Fatu Turituri (6-3, 290, Sr.), though Turituri could be moved to guard this season.
Gary Williams (6-3, 288, So.) is the leading candidate to take over at the left tackle spot previously occupied by Turituri, but the position could also be filled by Aaron Miller (6-5, 300, So.), who missed the 2005 season for personal reasons.
The role of center is still up in the air, as last year's starter and top Wildcat offensive lineman Matt McCutchan (6-3, 310, Sr.) is awaiting an appeal to allow him a sixth year to complete his eligibility due to injury. Should he not be allowed to return, the position will be filled by Travis Slaydon (6-3, 290, Sr.), who saw action in four games last season.
Coming back at linebacker will be Joe Schuler (6-3, 233, Jr.), Wesley Woodyard (6-1, 212, Jr.) and Braxton Kelley (6-0, 226, So.). Woodyard led the defense and earned sophomore All-American honors with 100 tackles, one interception and four fumble recoveries last season, while Kelley compiled 44 tackles in seven games before missing the remainder of the season due to injury. Schuler earned his starting role mid-season, getting the nod in each of the Wildcat's SEC matchups.
The Kentucky secondary will return Bo Smith (6-0, 190, Sr.) at cornerback and Roger Williams (6-0, 200, Jr.) at strong safety from last years starting squad, which allowed 243.3 passing yards per game and 24 touchdowns through the air. Smith had a team high two interceptions in 2005, while Williams was third on the team with 56 tackles.
On the line, the Wildcats bring back a starters at two positions, including left end Durrell White (6-3, 260, Sr.) and right tackle, where Jason Leger (6-1, 288, Jr.) and Myron Prior (6-1, 307, So.) both received time last year. Prior is currently the top candidate for the starting job.
Tim Masthay (6-2, 200, So.) will return at punter, punting 54 times last season with an average of 36.4 yards per kick.
Rafael Little will once again be the teams punt return man, returning 21 kicks for 355 yards last season, while David Jones is the probable candidate for kickoff returns after gaining 328 yards on 15 returns a year ago.
All-Time Series: 37-15-1
Stadium: Commonwealth (67,606)
First Meeting: 1949,
Last Meeting: 2002, LSU 30,
Head Coach: Rich Brooks, 9-25, 3 years
100-134-4 overall, 20 years
2005 in Review: 3-8, 2-6 SEC
Final '05 Ranking: Not ranked
Off. / Def. Systems: Multiple / 4-3
Returning Starters: 15; 7 offense, 7 defense, punter
Last Bowl Appearance: 1999
Last Conference Championship: 1976 co-champs
Rushing: Rafael Little – 197 rushes, 1045 yards, 9 TD
Passing: Andre Woodson – 253-146-6, 1644 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Rafael Little – 46 catches, 449 yards, 0 TD
Tackles: Wesley Woodyard – 100 TT (75S, 25A)
Total Offense: 297.5 (10th - SEC / 107th - NCAA)
Rushing Offense: 128.6 (8th - SEC / 79th - NCAA)
Passing Offense: 168.8 (10th - SEC / 101st - NCAA)
Scoring Offense: 21.7 (9th - SEC / 88th - NCAA)
Total Defense: 439.5 (12th - SEC / 103rd - NCAA)
Rushing Defense: 196.3 (12th - SEC / 102nd - NCAA)
Passing Defense: 243.3 (12th - SEC / 84th - NCAA)
Scoring Defense: 34.1 (12th - SEC / 107th - NCAA)
Turnover Margin: -9 (12th - SEC / 105th - NCAA)
Date Opponent '05 Result
S-16 Ole Miss L, 13-7
O-14 at LSU ---
N-11 Vanderbilt W, 48-43
N-18 Louisiana-Monroe ---
VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE:
While almost all the attention has
been focused on who
Versatile running back Rafael Little had almost 2,000 all-purpose yards last
season, ranking fifth in the nation. He can run, catch and return kicks. He has
the ability to score any time he touches the football. If
Best unknown player: Sophomore defensive tackle Myron Pryor was the star of spring practice. He has the power, size and speed to stop the run and rush the passer. He's not only lost weight — 43 pounds in one year — but he's also stronger. Plus, he figured out his constant leg cramps last year were caused by not drinking enough water. "I used to drink Gatorade a lot. I thought that would keep me hydrated real well. But then I would notice when I would drink a lot of water, I wouldn't get the cramps. It was as simple as that," Pryor said.
Player to watch: Freshman linebacker Micah Johnson is Brooks' most highly publicized recruit ever. He could even play some running back in short yardage situations. Johnson had a rigorous off-season workout that included doing yoga with his brother, sophomore lineman Christian Johnson. "We don't tell everybody that we did that, but it really helped us both," Micah Johnson said.