Can the Cats get back to another bowl?
After four years under Coach Mark Stoops, the Wildcats finally made a bowl game in 2016 and look to take another step forward this year.
Entering fall camp, an interesting position battle may come at quarterback for the Cats. Stephen Johnson took over for an injured Drew Barker in the third game of the 2016 season and led the Cats to seven wins. Some think the job should automatically be his, but Stoops says every position is up for grabs. It will be interesting to see if Barker, who has just returned from a serious back injury, or redshirt freshman Gunnar Hoak can challenge.
The Cats should be good once again on the offensive line, but running back is a position to watch. Benny Snell has returned after a 1,000-yard freshman season,
but who will back him up in the backfield? Junior Sihiem King and redshirt freshman AJ Rose appear to be the leading candidates.
Stoops is a defensive guy and the way the Cats have performed on that end since he took over in Lexington does not sit well with him. The Cats were 85th in the country in total defense last season. They will have to get much better up front on the defensive line. Both depth and talent have been issues at that spot over the last few years. Denzil Ware could be poised for a big year under first-year position coach Dean Hood. The Cats are returning a lot of experience at linebacker and in the secondary.
Kentucky’s opener is a key game on the schedule. The Cats are at Southern Mississippi on September 2. Kentucky lost to the Golden Eagles a year ago and a road win would go a long way to building on last year’s success.