UK primer on the Cats offense and defense

August 24, 2013 

WILDCATS ON OFFENSE

Coordinator

Neal Brown, first season at Kentucky, fourth overall as an offensive coordinator

Position coaches

Neal Brown, quarterbacks; Tommy Mainord, wide receivers; Vince Marrow, tight ends; John Schlarman, offensive line; Chad Scott, running backs; Tyler Sargent and Josh Pruitt, graduate assistants

Scheme

Updated Air Raid

Last season

UK finished second-to-last in the SEC and 113th (out of 120) in the nation in total offense, averaging an anemic 315 yards a game. The Cats were the worst scoring offense in the SEC, averaging just 17.9 points a game.

Returning starters

Kevin Mitchell, lineman; Zach West, lineman; Darrian Miller, lineman; Jalen Whitlow, quarterback; D.J. Warren, fullback; Jonathan George, running back; Ronnie Shields, wide receiver (from tight end)

What to Watch

After losing a starting running back and a starting quarterback to injuries, Kentucky went from showing promise with a new, up-tempo offense back to the bottom of the SEC in scoring offense (17.9 ppg) and near the bottom of the nation in total offense. The stadium will be filled with the sounds of Air Raid sirens with a new coordinator, but the Cats will be running the new scheme with some familiar faces and a lot of unproven talent.

Question marks

Will a team that returns only four wide receivers — who caught zero TDs last season — turn into an instant Air Raid offense? How fast can the newcomers come along? Will injuries spell doom for UK's offense for a third straight season?

Outlook

Brown cautioned in the pre-season that Rome wasn't built in a day, and that's true for the Kentucky offense as well. The Cats will improve only as much as some repurposed veterans and newcomers will carry them. The quarterback situation looks less bleak this year with several quality candidates with some level of experience, so injury might not destroy a season like it did last year.

Unofficial Depth Chart

Left tackle: Darrian Miller, Jon Toth

Left guard: Teven Eatmon-Nared, Zach West

Center: Zach Myers, Max Godby

Right guard: Kevin Mitchell, Jack Gruenschlaeger

Right tackle: Jordan Swindle, Shaquille Love

Tight end: Anthony Kendrick, Jordan Aumiller

Wide receiver: Demarco Robinson, Jeff Badet

Wide receiver: A.J. Legree, Alex Montgomery

Wide receiver: Daryl Collins, Ryan Timmons

Quarterback: Jalen Whitlow, Maxwell Smith

Fullback: D.J. Warren, Cody Jones

Tailback: Raymond Sanders, Jonathan George

Kicker: Joe Mansour, Austin MacGinnis


WILDCATS ON DEFENSE

Coordinator

D.J. Eliot, first season at Kentucky and as a coordinator

Position coaches

D.J. Eliot, linebackers; Derrick Ansley, cornerbacks; Jimmy Brumbaugh, defensive line; Bradley Dale Peveto, safeties; Adam Federle, defense/special teams graduate assistant; Matt Powledge, defense/special teams graduate assistant

Scheme

Base 4-3 defense with multiple looks

Last season

Kentucky finished 11th in the SEC and 59th in the nation in total defense, allowing 391.4 yards a game.

Returning starters

Alvin "Bud" Dupree, end; Tristian Johnson, tackle; Donte Rumph, tackle; Mister Cobble, tackle; Miles Simpson, linebacker; Avery Williamson, linebacker; Ashely Lowery, safety

What to watch

New Coach Mark Stoops is a defensive guy, and when he got on campus he said he wanted to make sure his team knows who and what it is. So he installed his 4-3 defense and moved some players around. Stoops and Eliot will try to help the UK defense make a quick turnaround as they have at their previous stops, but they're doing it with inexperience at key positions. One thing Stoops knows is that the Cats must be better on third down. UK was last in the league last season in that category and one of the worst in the nation.

Question marks

Can UK start forcing turnovers after getting only a paltry 13 last season? If the up-tempo offense struggles, does the defense have enough players and stamina to be on the field for extended periods of time? Can a veteran defensive line help offset inexperience and lack of depth at other places on the field? Can UK stay healthy?

Outlook

Stoops and Eliot have helped defenses improve dramatically in a short amount of time, but they say there's still much work to be done this season on the field and in the living rooms of future recruiting targets for the transformation to be complete. UK has a solid, veteran line and two impressive ends in Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith. But a thin, small secondary could spell trouble this season.

Unofficial Depth Chart

End: Alvin "Bud" Dupree, TraVaughn Paschal

Tackle: Mister Cobble, Mike Douglas

Tackle: Donte Rumph, Tristian Johnson

End: Za'Darius Smith, Jason Hatcher

Linebacker: Avery Williamson, Tyler Brause

Linebacker: Kory Brown, Miles Simpson

Linebacker: Khalid Henderson, Josh Forrest

Cornerback: Cody Quinn, Jaleel Hytche

Safety: Ashely Lowery, Glenn Faulkner

Safety: Eric Dixon; Daron Blaylock

Cornerback: Fred Tiller, Nate Willis

Punter: Landon Foster, Joe Mansour

Note: Unofficial depth charts as of Monday, Aug. 19.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com, ukwomen.bloginky.com.

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