Cats on offense
Randy Sanders, seventh season at Kentucky, fourth as coordinator
Randy Sanders, quarterbacks; Pat Washington, wide receivers; Mike Summers, offensive line; Greg Nord, tight ends; Steve Pardue, running backs; Andre Woodson and Tyler Sargent, graduate assistants; Glenn Holt and Sam Simpson, student assistants
Kentucky finished last in the Southeastern Conference and 118th (out of 120) in the nation in total offense, managing just 260 yards per game.
La'Rod King, receiver; Larry Warford, guard; Matt Smith, center; Maxwell Smith, quarterback; D.J. Warren, fullback; CoShik Williams, tailback; Craig McIntosh, kicker
What to watch
In nearly every statistical category, UK had its worst offensive output in more than a decade last season, averaging just 260 yards of offense (231 in SEC play) and 15.8 points (11.8 in SEC). With all but one skill player back, the Cats will try to improve those numbers dramatically. Kentucky has a wealth of depth at running back and seems to have improved its collection of receivers.
Will the offense look better than it did last season? Will receivers be able to start catching the ball? Will an unproven offensive line be able to hold up and give its quarterback time to work the offense? But the most basic question going into the season is: Will the offense be able to score points?
The numbers last season made offensive coordinator Sanders sick through parts of the off-season, but he has said he already has more faith in the offense this season than he did through much of last season. The offense will be relying on young players again to be successful, but they're not fresh-out-of-high school green, which should help. The offense is going to need to find its identity and its playmakers early, or it could end up losing confidence again and sputtering through the season.
Left tackle: Darrian Miller, Jordan Swindle
Left guard: Zach West, Teven Eatmon-Nared
Center: Matt Smith, Max Godby
Right guard: Larry Warford, Shaquille Love
Right tackle: Kevin Mitchell, Trevino Woods
Tight end: Ronnie Shields, Tyler Robinson
Wide receiver: La'Rod King, Aaron Boyd
Wide receiver: Demarco Robinson, Daryl Collins
Wide receiver: E.J. Fields, DeMarcus Sweat
Quarterback: Maxwell Smith, Morgan Newton
Fullback: D.J. Warren, Cody Jones
Tailback: CoShik Williams, Raymond Sanders
Kicker: Craig McIntosh, Joe Mansour
Cats on Defense
Rick Minter, second full season at Kentucky
David Turner, defensive line; Chuck Smith, linebackers; Mike Cassity, defensive backs; Kyle Krantz and Steven Montalvo, graduate assistants; Braxton Kelley, student assistant
Kentucky finished 10th in the Southeastern Conference and 58th in the nation in total defense, allowing 377 yards a game.
Collins Ukwu, end; Mister Cobble, tackle; Donte Rumph, tackle; Mikie Benton, safety; Martavius Neloms, cornerback (from safety)
What to watch
There have been a lot of position switches and reset glitches in the defense, but Minter hopes the end result will be a sound defensive unit. The front line consists of veterans who may have to be a stopgap as the second and third tiers of the defense (linebackers and secondary) learn their way. The secondary especially looks dangerously thin and true freshmen likely will see action at various points this season, which is always a worry. UK did see a dramatic increase in takeaways (24 last season, up from 15 the season before) and will try to keep improving those numbers.
Will a completely rebuilt secondary and mostly untested linebacking group be able to hold up against high-caliber talent, especially in the SEC portion of the schedule? Is there enough depth in the secondary to make it through a season? Will Kentucky not only be able to keep increasing its number of takeaways, but turn them into points?
Minter likes the team's talent and says talent overrides experience almost every time. He's banking on it with a lot of last season's backups stepping into key roles and positions. The defensive line is stacked with veterans, who have size and athleticism. Minter hopes the big guys up front, especially in the middle with Cobble and Rumph, will make up for any missteps (especially early) as the linebackers and secondary learn their way.
End: Collins Ukwu, Farrington Huguenin
Tackle: Donte Rumph, Tristian Johnson
Tackle: Mister Cobble, Mike Douglas
End: Taylor Wyndham, Alvin Davis
Linebacker: Bud Dupree, TraVaughn Paschal
Linebacker: Avery Williamson, Demarius Rancifer
Linebacker: Tyler Brause, Malcolm McDuffen
Hybrid safety/linebacker: Miles Simpson, Josh Forrest
Cornerback: Cartier Rice, Fred Tiller
Safety: Mikie Benton, Dakotah Tyler
Safety: Ashely Lowery, Daron Blaylock
Cornerback: Martavius Neloms, Eric Simmons
Punter: Landon Foster, Joe Mansour