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Kentucky Wildcats 2016 College Football Preview, Schedule, Prediction, Depth Chart, Outlook

Kentucky Wildcats 2016 Preview

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The Kentucky Wildcats hope to take that next step in the fourth season under head coach Mark Stoops. Kentucky has won 10 games the last two seasons and hasn’t made a bowl appearance since the 2010 season. Expectations are starting to rise for the Wildcats and they hope this is the season they can compete in the SEC East.

Here is your 2016 Kentucky Wildcats college football preview.

Kentucky Wildcats 2016 College Football Preview, Schedule, Prediction, Depth Chart, Outlook

USA TODAY Sports

Offense: Kentucky finished 10th in the SEC last season with an average of 24.7 points per game. Kentucky’s offense will continue to rely on a trio of Stanley Boom Williams, Jojo Kemp and Mikel Horton that produced produced 15 of the Wildcats 22 rushing touchdowns. Williams had 14 runs of more than 20 yards last season and is one of the more underrated running backs in the country. Drew Barker will likely be the starting quarterback after completing 50 percent of 70 pass attempts as a freshman. He has just two career starts under his belt. Barker will have a lot of help on the outside, as Garrett Johnson, Dorian Baker and Jeff Badet all return for another season and combined for more than 1,700 receiving yards. Add the fact Kentucky returns four of five starting offensive linemen and this is an offense that has the potential to do some damage.

Defense: Kentucky ranked 12th in the SEC last season in total defense with an average of 394 yards allowed per game. Even worse news is that Kentucky returns just one starter from the front seven and will be without a lot of its top playmakers and tacklers from a year ago. The good news for Kentucky is that Chris Westry has proven he’s one of the better cornerbacks in the SEC while Blake McClain and J.D. Harmon provide leadership and tackling ability from the secondary. Denzil Ware shined as a freshman with 5.5 tackles for loss last season and Josh Allen is another young sophomore expected to expand his role. Kentucky will also turn to key transfers in De'Niro Laster from Minnesota and Courtney Love from Nebraska to help patch up so many lost players on the defensive side of the ball. The cupboard isn’t completely bare, but defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot will have his hands full with so much youth on defense this season.

Special Teams: Bryan Kirshe will likely replace Landon Foster at punter after attempting just one last season for 31 yards. Austin MacGinnis returns at kicker after making 13 of 17 field goal attempts and 22 of 23 extra points.

Overall: This has to be the season Kentucky wins enough games to reach a bowl appearance. The Wildcats have solid pieces on the offensive side of the ball to where they could score close to 30 points most nights. And while the defense is young, there’s still talent in the secondary and a few guys who shined last year in a limited role. Kentucky can be a top-50 team this season. I expect the Wildcats to win at least six games and make a bowl appearance.

Schedule:

Sept. 3 SOUTHERN MISS

Sept. 10 at Florida

Sept. 17 NEW MEXICO STATE

Sept. 24 SOUTH CAROLINA

Oct. 1 at Alabama

Oct. 8 VANDERBILT

Oct. 22 MISSISSIPPI STATE

Oct. 29 At Missouri

Nov. 5 GEORGIA

Nov. 12 at Tennessee

Nov. 19 AUSTIN PEAY

Nov. 26 at Louisville

 

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