Mark Story

First Scouting Report: Kentucky vs. Toledo

Photo slideshow: Kentucky prevails in Citrus Bowl to cap 10-win season

Kentucky defeated Penn State 27-24 in the VRBO Citrus Bowl on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.
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Kentucky defeated Penn State 27-24 in the VRBO Citrus Bowl on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

An early look ahead to Kentucky’s 2019 football season opener:

The opponent

Kentucky (10-3 in 2018) will open its 2019 season against Mid-American Conference foe Toledo (7-6 in 2018) on Aug. 31 at Kroger Field.

The Rockets ended their 2018 season with a 35-32 loss to Florida International in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

Most recent meeting

This will be the first football game ever between Kentucky and Toledo.

Know your foe

1. When Matt Campbell left Toledo to become head coach at Iowa State following the 2015 season, the Rockets promoted offensive coordinator Jason Candle to the top spot. In three seasons since, Candle is 28-13 as Toledo head coach with a 2017 Mid-American Conference championship and three bowl trips.

2. Toledo loses four offensive starters, including star wideouts Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson, to graduation. The Rockets also graduate six defensive starters. However, Toledo hopes to get starting quarterback Mitchell Guadagni back from injury. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior-to-be was sidelined after seven games in 2018 with a broken collarbone. A dual threat, Guadagni threw for 1,053 yards and 13 touchdowns (with only three interceptions) and ran for 428 yards and three scores before being hurt.

3. A familiar face should play a major role for Toledo at Kroger Field. Running back Bryant Koback, who sat out the 2017 season at Kentucky as a redshirt freshman, was the leading rusher (917 yards, 14 touchdowns) for the Rockets in 2018 after transferring from UK.

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Kentucky arrives for the VRBO Citrus Bowl against Penn State at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2019.

After his team's 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops was asked which of his stars will he miss most -- Benny Snell or Josh Allen? UK finished the season 10-3.

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team's 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The win gave UK 10 victories in a season for the first time since 1977.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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