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Inside the Preview Magazines: Phil Steele College 2011 Football Preview


It’s a bit too early to do a serious dissection of the upcoming Kentucky Wildcat Football season, so I am doing the next best thing.  All this week, we will be looking at the preview magazines and seeing what they say about Kentucky and to a smaller degree, the SEC.  It’s a good way to get some national perspective on our Wildcats and it allows me to write off the cost of the magazines as I am using them for the site.  Charlie Sheen would say “Winning”.

Do people still say that?  Or talk about Charlie Sheen anymore?  Guess I’m tragically unhip.

We start with the Phil Steele’s football guide.  The guide is literally the Bible of college preview guides as it is chock full of so much statistical information and lists, your heads will explode and it is definitely worth the price if you demand a listing of the top nose tackles and every other position in fooball.   I won’t get that in depth, but let’s look at the highlights.


Kentucky is picked fifth in the SEC East and Steele seems to have the same outlook on Kentucky’s season as most of the major pundits do:

The Cats have done a great job getting to 5 straight bowl gamesafter having been in 2 bowls the previous 10 years.  After returning 11, 10, and 11 starters the past 3 seasons, they are loaded with 16 returning starters this yearand 72.7% of their lettermen return (#3 SEC).  As usual, the Cats will probably be favored in 5, possibly 6 games, and will likely need an upset like in each of the past years to keep their bowl streak alive and have a good shot at doing so. 

Phil Steele’s guide is tough to read at times as he throws stats and numbers at you at an eye boggling pace, so I am not going to attempt to transcribe what he has written about the team but will touch on the main points.

  • QB – Steele notes Kentucky’s reputation for developing pro style QB’s and looks over some numbers. In the end, he concludes that it will be tough for Newton to match Hartline’s numbers last season. 
  • RB – It is noted that Kentucky has not had a RB with more than 200 running attempts since Artose Pinner in 2002.  Kentucky obviously has lost most of the talent from last year but Steele notes that Brandon Gainer could press Sanders for playing time.  It is a very inexperienced unit, but should be healthier than in years past.
  • WR – notes that Kentucky lost two NFL caliber receivers last year so this unit will be down a few notches.  It is important to note that Kentucky has four tall WR’s that are 6’4 or taller. 
  • OL – notes that eight of the top ten players are back with 77 career starts and this should be a more experienced and improved unit. 
  • DL -notes the recent losses on the line and cites Nermin Delic (not playing this year) as a reason for improved play.  This unit should have better health than last year. 
  • LB – Steele has relatively good things to say and that UK returns five of the top six back.  He says UK should “greatly improve” on the 28.4 ppg from last year as this is the most experienced LB squad in at least four years. 
  • DB – Good things are said about the DB’s as well, noting that Kentucky returns the entire two deep depth chart roster.  He also mentioned that Paul Warford had said that Randall Burden could be as good as Trevard Lindley.  Winston Guy and Mychal Bailey (4.37 speed) are also mentioned and this is a unit on the rise. 
  • Special Teams – Steele notes that UK’s special teams unit fell from 35th to 81st last year and cites the firing of Steve Ortmayer and hiring of Greg Nord as a reason.  He touches on Ryan Tydlacka and notes that the best leg for FG’s was Joe Mansour but he was not consistent enough to take over the FG duties yet.  Even with the loss of Cobb, this unit should improve from last year. 
  • Forecast – Kentucky has a great shot at a 6th straight bowl. 

In the end, Kentucky is rated as the 62nd best team in the country, which is ahead of their first three opponents:  WKU (114), Central Michigan (102) and Louisville (69).  Florida is the 19th best team, LSU is 5th, and South Carolina is 12th, which means UK could be staring at 3-3 at this point.   Jacksonville State is a FCS team and not listed, but Mississippi State and Ole Miss are 25th and 45th.  Kentucky finished with Vandy (88th), Georgia (11th) and Tennessee (40th).  It is important to note that these are not national ranking predictions, but the listing of the each team’s strengths and weaknesses, or the power poll.  Just looking at these numbers, Kentucky looked headed for a 5-7 season, but this is why the games are played.


There are quite a few Wildcats that are being honored preseason wise, so let’s take a look at them, shall we?  Larry Warford get the top offensive honors for UK as he is selected 2nd Team All American at O and the individual rating has him as the 8th best guard overall in the country.  This is the beauty of the Steel preview magazine.  He lists the top 44 centers, 64 tackles, whatever you can think of and you can spend hours browsing through this guide.  Danny Trevathan made the cut on the Third Team All American squad.  It’s nice to see some Kentucky names listed nationally as this has been missing traditionally. 

In the All SEC Team listing, the Kentucky names are more numerous.  Larry Warford (OG) and Danny Trevathan (LB) are both 1st Team All SEC, as I feel they both should be.  Kentucky is shut out of the second team, but Stuart Hines (OG) and Winston Guy (S) make the 3rd Team All Conference.  OT Chandler Burden and P Ryan Tydlacka make the cut on the 4th Team. 

This pretty much wraps up the look at the Phil Steele guide.  Like I said, there is lots of information there and this is probably the best guide for the stat guru.  Tomorrow, we will continue my look at the preseason guides.  Same time, same channel.

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