Kentucky Wildcats College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Kentucky Wildcats Biggest Key: Offense
The downfield passing game has to show up. Part of it was a function of the offense, part of it was former QB Terry Wilson, and part of it was that Kentucky’s passing game just wasn’t that explosive.
The Wildcats averaged over seven yards per pass in 2018, and that was the norm. Over the last two years the passing game has been under six. That’s where new offensive coordinator Liam Coen comes in, and that’s where the shift to get more big plays makes an impact.
Kentucky averaged over seven yards per pass just three times last season. By comparison – Alabama only went under nine yards per throw twice.
That doesn’t mean the Wildcats are going to start winging it all over the yard, but there should be more shots down the field and more of an emphasis on getting more yards after the catch.
Kentucky Wildcats Biggest Key: Defense
There HAS to be more of a pass rush. The Wildcats couldn’t get into the backfield enough, and it was a problem.
This wasn’t always the case. Josh Allen and the 2018 defense lived behind the line with 38 sacks in the 13 game season, and the 2019 D was terrific at generating pressure with 33 sacks and 74 tackles for loss.
Last year? 15 sacks and 54 tackles for loss in 11 games.
There was steady enough pressure to come up with a little bit, and the D overall wasn’t all that bad, but there wasn’t a big moment when everything clicked. However, when UK came up with two sacks or more – the season high was three in the bowl win over NC State – it was 3-1.
Kentucky Wildcats Key Player To A Successful Season
LB Jordan Wright, Jr.
It would be nice if one guy could step up and become a playmaker behind the line, but it’s going to take the entire defense to step up and become more disruptive.
The 6-5, 233-pound Wright has been good – 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in the last two seasons – and he has the experience, quickness, and upside to do even more. If he can get to at least five sacks, that’s a start.
Kentucky Wildcats Key Game To The 2021 Season
Missouri, Sept. 11
Kentucky won five in a row against against Mizzou, but last year the 20-10 loss on the road was a problem with the biggest games against several SEC stars to follow. This time around, it’s the SEC opener and it’s at home early on.
Win it, and with ULM to start the season and Chattanooga to follow, it’s going to be a 3-0 start with the trip to South Carolina up next in SEC play. Lose, and with Florida, LSU, and at Georgia before mid-October, and there’s going to be a problem before an easy finishing kick.
2020 Kentucky Wildcats Fun Stats
– Interceptions Thrown: Opponents 16 – Kentucky 5
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 71% – Kentucky 47%
– Passing TDs: Opponents 18 – Kentucky 7