Cats on Offense
Randy Sanders, sixth season at Kentucky, third as coordinator
Randy Sanders, quarterbacks; Tee Martin, wide receivers; Greg Nord, tight ends; Steve Pardue, running backs; Mike Summers, offensive line; Tommy Cook, graduate assistant; Andre Woodson and Glenn Holt, student assistants
Kentucky finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference and 27th in the nation in total offense, averaging 427.8 yards per game.
Chandler Burden, left tackle; Stuart Hines, left guard; Matt Smith, center; Larry Warford, right guard; Jordan Aumiller, tight end; La'Rod King, wide receiver; Craig McIntosh, kicker What to watch
Big-time playmakers like Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke are off to the next level, and UK is left with mostly untested, unproven players who would like to make a name for themselves in the Southeastern Conference. King and Gene McCaskill hope to lead a young receiving corps that shows some promise and a lot of speed. Phillips believes his veteran offensive line, with four returning starters, will make life easier for the young runners in UK's stable, led by Raymond Sanders, Jonathan George and CoShik Williams, along with some talented freshmen.
How will UK replace not only the production but also the leadership of players like Cobb? Will that player(s) be able to make big plays at key times? Can Morgan Newton continue to be the leader he was this summer and develop into the elite-level quarterback he was projected to be? Can freshmen be playmakers in the SEC, or will this be a painful rebuilding year?
The offensive linemen have said it's time to lean on them to get big yardage. If they can stay healthy (which was a problem in camp), they're hoping to give Newton enough protection to get UK down the field to score touchdowns. Some players, including Newton, are going to have to separate themselves and carry the offense during the tough times and yardage droughts. Previous role players are going to have to step into leadership roles, and the freshmen runners and receivers will have to live up to the hype.
Left tackle: Chandler Burden, Teven Eatmon-Nared
Left guard: Stuart Hines, Kevin Mitchell
Center: Matt Smith, Jake Lanefski
Right guard: Larry Warford, Jake Lanefski
Right tackle: Billy Joe Murphy, Trevino Woods
Tight end: Jordan Aumiller, Tyler Robinson
Wide receiver: La'Rod King and Brian Adams
Wide receiver: Gene McCaskill and Matt Roark
Quarterback: Morgan Newton, Maxwell Smith
Fullback: Darrell Warren, Cody Jones
Tailback: Raymond Sanders, Josh Clemons
Kicker: Craig McIntosh, Joe Mansour
Cats on Defense
Rick Minter, first full season at Kentucky; Steve Brown, ninth season at Kentucky, fifth as coordinator
David Turner, defensive lineChuck Smith, linebackersSteve Brown, defensive backsJonathan Martin, graduate assistant/defense
Kentucky finished sixth in the Southeastern Conference and 45th in the nation in total defense, allowing 354.2 yards per game.
Collins Ukwu, end; Luke McDermott, tackle; Mark Crawford, tackle; Danny Trevathan, linebacker; Ronnie Sneed, linebacker; Martavius Neloms, safety; Winston Guy, safety; Mychal Bailey, safety; Randall Burden, cornerback; Anthony Mosley, cornerback; Ryan Tydlacka, punter
What to watch
The Cats return almost all of their top tacklers from last season, including Trevathan, who led the SEC in tackles with 144. Communication will be key as the team transitions from a 4-3 defense to the aggressive, ever-changing, multi-schemed approach of co-coordinator Rick Minter. Lots of people are playing at new positions and will have to adjust as the season goes on.
Have the Wildcats become the aggressive, in-your-face team that this style of defense requires? Does Kentucky have the players to make the new system effective? Can young players in key positions like safety improve fast enough to keep from getting burned on big plays in big games? Can Kentucky force more turnovers than its 16 from last season, which was near the bottom of the conference? Outlook
Joker Phillips brought in friend and mentor Minter to revamp the UK defense to make it a faster, more aggressive unit that will confuse and befuddle opposing offenses. Having veterans who seem to have bought into the new system and are battle-tested should help, but there could be growing pains along the way.
(for 4-3 alignment)
End: Collins Ukwu, Antwane Glenn
Tackle: Luke McDermott, Mister Cobble
Tackle: Donte Rumph, Tristian Johnson
End: Taylor Wyndham, Patrick Ligon
Linebacker: Danny Trevathan, Malcolm McDuffen
Linebacker: Ridge Wilson, Justin Henderson
Linebacker: Ronnie Sneed, Avery Williamson
Cornerback: Anthony Mosley, Cartier Rice
Safety: Winston Guy, Miles Simpson
Safety: Martavius Neloms, Taiedo Smith
Cornerback: Randall Burden, TBA
Punter: Ryan Tydlacka, Joe Mansour