SEC East: Kentucky

Kentucky has some horses this year, and we're not talking about the ones that run at Churchill Downs. We're talking about the ones that run at Commonwealth Stadium. That's why the Wildcat football team should be a lot more fun to watch this season.

Rafael Little ranks as one of the top running backs in the South after rushing for 1,045 yards as a sophomore last fall. He also led the Big Blue in receptions (46) and receiving yards (449).

The task of taking some pressure off of him will fall to the talented quarterback tandem of Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley. Woodson is a fine passer with decent mobility, while Pulley is a decent passer with fine mobility. It will be interesting to see how they develop under new quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders, fresh from seven years as Tennessee's offensive coordinator.

Kentucky's offense also should benefit from the return of four starters from the 2005 line. Throw in tight end Jacob Tamme, whose 29 receptions in '05 ranked second behind Little, and it appears the Wildcats will score a lot of points in 2006.

Now for the kicker: It appears the Wildcats will ALLOW a lot of points in 2006, as well. They finished dead last in virtually every SEC defensive category last fall and don't appear to be appreciably better in any of them.

The fact Rich Brooks looks to be a lame-duck coach is hardly a secret, so there's no use traveling that well-worn ground here. Suffice to say, his job status could become a distraction as the season progresses.

Bottom line: Kentucky's offense should be better and its defense can't be any worse. The Wildcats benefit from getting to play the SEC West's two bottom-feeders (Mississippi State and Ole Miss). Throw in a probable win against division foe Vanderbilt, and UK conceivably could finish 3-5 in SEC play and 6-6 overall.

TOMORROW: My take on Phil Fulmer's Tennessee Vols.


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