Three key questions
Is Patrick Towles ready to be The Man? Last fall, when the former Fort Thomas Highlands star was beaten out for the Kentucky quarterback job, the "scuttlebutt" was that Towles lacked the quick release and accuracy on short passes necessary to be an Air Raid quarterback. After hiring a private QB coach in the offseason to refine his throwing mechanics, Towles claimed the UK starting job. Tennessee-Martin of the Ohio Valley Conference should be a prime chance for the "new and improved" Towles to show his stuff.
Can the UK running backs live up to the hype? As anxious as everyone is for Kentucky to again look like a Tim Couch-era Air Raid, UK's stable of backs — Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard, sophomore Jojo Kemp, true freshmen Stanley "Boom" Williams and Mikel Horton; and, if he's healthy, junior Josh Clemons — should be the strength of the Cats' offense. With a brand new starting quarterback and an injury-impacted and still youthful wide-receiving corps, UK needs the backs to prove worthy of their preseason ink.
How will Kentucky fans handle the gantlet of Commonwealth Stadium construction? Regardless of what happens on the field, this season will be a test for Big Blue backers. The $120 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium will not stop as the Wildcats play home games. That means parking and traffic patterns around the stadium have changed. Inside the venue, some fans will be required to move to new seats. The end result — a revamped, state-of-the-art Commonwealth in 2015 — should be well worth it. Still, will the inconvenience in 2014 hold down UK home attendance?
The mood of Kentucky fans is wait-and-see. Most seem "in" with Mark Stoops and excited by his early recruiting success. However, buzz for the 2014 campaign has seemed dull, and season ticket sales (40,600 as of Monday) are so-so. A blowout victory over a Football Championship Subdivision foe might gin up some electricity among the UK fan base — but anything less will not.