Five story lines for Kentucky Wildcats Football

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Sep 7, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops before the game against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats head into an early bye week with a 1-2 record. Granted, most fans expected to be 2-1 at this mark, but this team has shown improvement every week. Mark Stoops and his staff have two weeks to prepare for the Florida Gators and it should be a sold out Commonwealth Stadium greeting his team as they attempt to snap that 26 game Gator winning streak. But before then, there are five questions/story lines facing this team.

Sep 14, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Maxwell Smith(11) passes the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

THE QUARTERBACK DILEMMA

It is my firm opinion that this offense runs a lot better when Maxwell Smith plays. However, he is prone to injury and his health is a serious storyline for the third season in a row. Kentucky hopes to have Max Smith ready for Florida, but it is almost certain that he will miss more time this year. So, what to do with Jalen Whitlow?

Whitlow is improved from last year and his numbers show it, but has he improved enough to be the full-time starting quarterback? I don’t think he is. I think Whitlow is a great athlete and needs to be on the field, but still lacks the decision-making and composure to man the position fulltime. I still think that Whitlow show get reps in practice and see some change of pace action during the game. But I do not think he is the answer at QB should Smith go down for an extended period.

I think it is time for Patrick Towles to start seeing some first team action in practice and be groomed to replace Smith should Smith miss extended times. Whitlow can still be the change of pace QB and keep the two QB system alive, but Towles, I think, is better in Neal Brown’s system. Plus, Kentucky will know what they have in Towles headed into next year.  The way it looks, Smith will not have a completely healthy year and it’s time for Towles to step up.

 

Sep 7, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Jojo Kemp (3) runs the ball against Miami (Oh) Redhawks linebacker TJ Williams (49) and defensive back Brison Burris (35) at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

TIME TO GO WITH THE YOUTH MOVEMENT IN THE BACKFIELD?

After three games, the UK ground game is 42nd in the country and is churning out 213.3 yards a game.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  It is a huge improvement from past seasons, and the ground attack is being keyed by freshman JoJo Kemp.  Kemp, in short, has been electric and averages 9.3 yards a carry.  Against Louisville, all he did was average 16 yards a carry.  Fellow freshman Ryan Timmons is averaging 11.3 yards a carry.  With a bye week, is it time to start the youth transition and maybe name Kemp the starter?

Or at least get him involved in the offense a lot earlier.   It was 17-3 in the third quarter before Kemp got a carry on Saturday.  With the way he is running, he could have made a huge difference in the first half that UK managed only three points.

I’m not saying to bench Ray Sanders as he is averaging 5.9 per carry on the year.  But he was struggling against Louisville with 16 yards on 6 attempts.  Jonathan George is struggling this year as well as he is averaging just 3.1 yards a carry on the year.  Kemp has proven so far that he is the best ball carrier through three games and deserves to get his number called earlier and often.  UK has a lot of talent at the RB position, but the best players need to play.  And in the same mold as Patrick Towles, it’s time to get Dyshawn Mobley more carries so we can see what he can do before the 2014 running backs get here.

 

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Tags: Football JoJo Kemp Kentucky Wildcats Mark Stoops

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