Kentucky Wildcats Football: Five Questions That Need to Be Answered This Season

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The weather is finally starting to cool down. Major league baseball is charging into the playoffs. NFL pre-season football is giving starved fans a morsel before the real deal starts. College football is around the corner and the anticipation for the start of the 2012 season is making people yearn for the gridiron even more so than in July.

The approaching season is filled with doubt and apprehension from Kentucky fans as Joker Phillips and company aren’t being given a punchers chance by the national media. Paul Jordan reminds us that games are played on the field, not on computers, and certainly not by the individuals that vote in the polls. 

But I get some of the doubt. The team did falter to a 5-7 record and missed a bowl game for the first time in 5 seasons. There were times that the Wildcats looked like a team that had never before practiced. Many fans simply gave up after the ‘Cats were blown out on the road by lowly Vanderbilt. But then Kentucky showed signs of life against Georgia and finally exorcised the demons of Tennessee. These last two games gave the die hard fans something to look forward to for the next season.

September 2nd is almost upon us and doubt fills many of the empty seats in Commonwealth Stadium. There are five questions that must be answered in a positive way in order to fill those seats with fans.

Can the Wildcats Exact Revenge on the Cardinals?

All hopes of a bowl game pretty much went out the window when Louisville came into Lexington and upset the Wildcats last season. And make no mistake about it, the 24-17 loss to the Cardinals was an upset. Louisville was 1-1 after a lackluster performance against Murray State and a loss to FIU on their home field while UK was 2-0. The upset put Kentucky firmly behind the eight ball heading into games against Florida, LSU and South Carolina in consecutive weeks.

Now the Cardinals are heavy home favorites (13.5 points) and are looking towards a BCS game and a Big East title. Revenge would be sweet as Louisville fans are expecting major results from their team despite some major bumps in the road in 2011. But there are things more important than bragging rights. Take the heightened chances for a bowl game and positive momentum heading into the SEC for example.

If Kentucky beats Louisville, and if they handle their business against Kent State and WKU, then all of a sudden there is promise and confidence. Not to mention a 3-0 start would mean that Kentucky is not the worst team in the state, as some have predicted. 

How Effective will the running back by committee approach be?

The Wildcats battled injuries in the back field all season long and had to rely on multiple players to carry the ball from game to game. Raymond Sanders started the season as #1 on the depth chart but was eclipsed due to injury by true freshman Josh Clemmons. Clemmons ran well until he was sidelined with a season ending knee injury while at practice.  Coshik Williams had to step in for a few games and carry the load.

Here are the season totals from the back field last season:

Raymond Sanders- 40 carries, 155 yards, zero touchdowns in six games played. Game High: 62 yards against Central Michigan.

Josh Clemmons- 65 carries, 279 yards, two touchdowns in six games played. Game High: 126 yards against Central Michigan.

Coshik Williams- 118 carries, 486 yards, three touchdowns in 8 games played. Game high: 148 yards against Jacksonville State.

Johnathan George- 51 carries, 208 yards, two touchdowns in 8 games played. Game High: 66 yards against Jacksonville State.

Cody Jones- 2 carries, 8 yards, zero touchdowns in one game played. Game High: 8 yards against Jacksonville State.

Darrell Warren- 2 carries, 3 yards, zero touchdowns in 7 games played. Game High: 4 yards against Ole Miss

Six different running backs carried the ball last season for Kentucky. Josh Clemmons showed the most promise early, but Coshik Williams ended up having the best season. Clemmons is still battling that knee injury, Raymond Sanders can’t seem to stay healthy, Williams is serviceable but he is not an SEC every down back, and the same can be said for Johnathan George.

Until a player steps up and blows away the staff, you can look for every running back on the depth chart to touch the ball. Justin Taylor and Dyshawn Mobley are two true freshmen that are making some major noise in camp. Both are big, physically imposing SEC style backs that could see a lot of playing time.

But can this work? It did to a point last season, but consistency is key. When a running back starts to get into a groove and sees the holes opening up where there shouldn’t be, he is hard to stop. It would be beneficial to have a player that establishes himself as THE guy, while the other running backs can come in to give him a rest or can come in for special offensive packages.