It’s football time in the bluegrass! Kentucky football kicks off the 2022 season this Saturday seeking to win the Southeastern Conference East and here are our game-by-game predictions to see IF that can happen.
Coach Mark Stoops has walked the walk and backed up all the talk he has said over the past nine seasons. As Stoops’ Troops start the 2022 campaign a lot of eyes are focused on the Wildcats to see if the accession has reached its peak, is ready to stand on the summit, and hopefully not ready to tumble backward.
We don’t think it’s the last one, but as any sports fan knows injuries and other circumstances can quickly derail the momentum of a speeding train. The loss of quarterback Will Levis would promptly change the direction or remember when Covid sidelined a ton of players just two years ago?
It’s not gloom but reality.
However, the hype train is full speed ahead with Kentucky hoping to dethrone longtime SEC East king Georgia and make the SEC Championship game.
The pundits laugh but lest they forget finishing second in the SEC last year all alone was – Kentucky football.
SEC Network analyst Chris Doering is all in on Kentucky this season.
Before Stoops arrived Kentucky fans expected to go 5-6 and if the stars aligned maybe sneak into a bowl game. Commonwealth Stadium was nearly half empty on Saturday and the talk was about when basketball will start and not the football game.
Joker Phillips went 2-10 in 2012 only managing to beat Kent State and Samford. That year UK ranked 119 out of 124 schools in scoring mustering just 215 season points while giving up 372 and Phillips was out the door after 3 seasons and a 13-24 record.
Enter Stoops and now entering his tenth season and just one win from tying Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most wins ever at Kentucky he has probably his best UK team ever to start the season.
Without further ado here we go – is it doomsday, pie in the sky, or more importantly reality for this Kentucky football team? Again it’s only a projection based on what we know today.
Kentucky goes 1-0 with the solid effort despite Chris Rodriguez not playing
Venue: Kroger Field
City: Lexington, KY
Overall Matchup Record: Kentucky leads 8-4-1
Last meeting: Kentucky won 41-7 in 2013.
As expected Chris Rodriguez begins his suspension following a DUI arrest earlier this year. Missing this game was no shock and Kentucky has plenty of depth at running back to get this season going. In all reality, this will give us and the coaches a good look at just how strong this depth is.
Senior Kavoisey Smoke has earned the top spot to start Saturday and I envision him breaking some long runs.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis will be anxious to step onto Kroger Field and get this season going and he must be chomping at the bit to get 2022 underway. Besides the stable of running back, we need to take a look at he also has a very talented group of receivers.
We haven’t seen much from the receiving corp over the past few years except for one Wandale Robinson. I’d expect Levis to be airing it out short and long to get this part of the game going to Dane Key and Barion Brown and the other receivers. The tight ends are as talented as can be and they too will probably get double-digit balls their way.
Miami coach Chuck Martin is an offensive mastermind having led Notre Dame as the offensive coordinator in 2012 to the BCS game against Alabama. Now, like Stoops, he enters his 10th season coaching the Red Hawks.
Martin not unlike Stoops took over a struggling team that the previous year was 0-12 and slowly he went 4-18 in his first 22 conference games. But since then his teams have gone 30-12 in the MAC, won the 2019 MAC Championship, and played in the LendingTree Bowl. Miami has now been bowl eligible in five of the last six years and won the Frisco Football Classic in 2021.
While Martin will test the UK secondary the Wildcat defense will be up for the test although they will be missing Jordan Wright who is also suspended for the game for an unnamed reason.
Which stars will shine for Kentucky is an unknown but getting off to a solid start and going 1-0 is key with a trip to the Swamp and the Florida Gators looming in Week 2.