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Kentucky football: Kirk Herbstreit says Southern Miss game is huge

ESPN lead college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks Kentucky will be improved in 2016.
ESPN lead college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks Kentucky will be improved in 2016. ESPN images

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit was on a media teleconference on Wednesday to preview the upcoming 2016 season when he was asked about Kentucky.

Here’s what Kirk had to say:

“Well, going back to, I guess five years ago, I just saw a very talented, experienced coordinator. I think getting away from his brother, Mike, who is at Arizona and he was the defensive coordinator and kind of getting out on his own and he ended up at Florida State and having a great deal of success. I knew what kind of leader he was. I knew what kind of recruiter he could be. I just thought if he finally got an opportunity to be his own guy, he would have a chance to do pretty well.

“As we know, trying to get Kentucky to compete and be a consistent winner in the SEC East is very challenging. They’ve made some strides. But I know that that fan base would love to get to a bowl game and love to be more competitive in the SEC.

“If you look at the team, I think the change at quarterback with Drew Barker taking over I think will help them. I think they really turn the ball over too much and they just seem to be a little bit out of sorts offensively.

“So you have a new scheme, a new quarterback with Barker. They’re loaded in the back field with Kemp and Williams. So there’s a lot, I think, to be excited about offensively with, as I said, the new attack.

“Then, this is a young defense. They’re not quite there as far as where they need to be on the defensive line, and they’re going to have to be kind of creative and aggressive.

“But I look at their schedule, and if there’s a game that’s going to decide if they go to a bowl game or not, I hate to say it’s the opener, but I think it is. I mean, if they beat Southern Miss, I think that schedule all of a sudden looks a lot more attainable and a bowl becomes more attainable than if they were to lose that game and go to the Swamp in week two.

“So I think they need to get off to a good start and hope for the best. But I think you’ll see improvement this year for sure.”

Here’s the entire transcript of the Herbstreit teleconference.

SEC FOOTBALL OPENERS

Thursday, Sept. 1

  • 7:30 - Appalachian State at Tennessee (SEC)
  • 8:00 - South Carolina at Vanderbilt (ESPN)

Saturday, Sept. 3

  • 12:00 - South Alabama at Mississippi State (SEC)
  • 12:00 - Missouri at West Virginia (Fox Sports 1)
  • 3:30 - LSU vs. Wisconsin (ABC)
  • 3:30 - UCLA at Texas A&M (CBS)
  • 4:00 - Louisiana Tech at Arkansas (SEC)
  • 5:30 - Georgia vs. North Carolina (ESPN)
  • 7:30 - Southern Miss at Kentucky (ESPNU)
  • 7:30 - UMass at Florida (SEC)
  • 8:00 - Alabama vs. USC (ABC)
  • 9:00 - Clemson at Auburn (ESPN)

Monday, Sept. 5

  • 8:00 - Florida State vs. Ole Miss (ESPN)
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