It’s only 100 days until the Kentucky Wildcats open their season with a game in Nashville Tennessee against Bobby Petrino and his Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. While the Big Blue Nation is once again excited for action on the grid iron, things need to be kept in perspective.
Remember that the team that Mark Stoops inherited is a two win team that was basically a trainwreck for most of the season. This is Stoops’ first stint as a head coach but everything he has done, from recruiting to hiring one of the best young staffs in the SEC, has shown that he is going to work as hard as he can to right the ship.
I’m not expecting six wins and a bowl game this season, but there are a few things that I really want to see in order for me to feel confident heading into 2014 and beyond.
1. Beat Western Kentucky- The loss to the Hilltoppers in Commonwealth Stadium was an embarrassment and a back breaker for the rest of the season. I’m not taking anything away from WKU, they had a good football team, but the Wildcats should NEVER lose to them at home. Both the Hilltoppers and the Wildcats are sporting new coaches and are ready to take it to the next level. Bobby Petrino is at the helm and Stoops has already acknowledged that he feels that his team would lose to WKU if they played right now. But he then added that they will be more than ready when the time comes in August. It’s important that Kentucky wins this game not as a revenge factor, but in order to show that the program is ready to take steps towards reclaiming their status as the best football program in the state. It is also important that Stoops gets a win over a brilliant football mind such as Bobby Petrino’s. The guy has character flaws but he can damn sure coach.
2. Consistency and Health at the Quarterback Position - Max Smith started the season as the starting quarterback for the Wildcats and was putting up some impressive numbers until he was sidelined with an injury. Jaelin Whitlow then took over, played like a true freshman, but showed flashes of talent. Then he was out with an injury. Enter another true freshman in Patrick Toweles who, like Whitlow, showed flashes of ability but played young and was also sidelined with an injury. There is nothing worse on a football team than musical chairs at quarterback. Most teams, right or wrong, are identified by their quarterback. The disaray at the QB position mathced the disaray of the team as a whole. The position wasn’t solidified through the fault of no one, not even Joker Phillips, therefore the team struggled to play with any consistency. Neal Brown is known as a quarterback and offensive genius. The hope of the fans is that he names a quarterback as soon as possible during summer camp so that whomever he keeps can get the most reps at practice. Right now Whitlow seems to be in the lead for the job, but don’t count out the veteran Smith or his fellow sophomore Patrick Toweles.