This is going to be a big year for the Wildcats. After coming off of an impressive 2016 season, UK is poised and ready to make a run at the SEC east in 2017. However, in order for that to happen, there’s a lot that needs to come in to place for the Cats. I’m going to focus on the 3 main keys to Kentucky Football’s success for 2017, in no particular order:
- First, the running game has to maintain it’s stellar play this year. I know, this is going to be a hard task, but it has to happen. Last year the Cats ranked 16th overall in rushing and had two 1,000 yard rushers. But, Kentucky has a very talented backfield led by Benny Snell along with one of the best offensive lines in the country. There’s no reason why the Cats can’t have the same success in the backfield this year.
- Second, the defensive line needs to step it up! Last year, the linebacker core led by Jordan Jones carried the weight all year. In order for Kentucky to get better, the defensive line needs to be extremely active all year. I know, we’ve all heard it before, but I have to mention it again, Matt Elam-where are you? For a man who’s 6’7, 360 pounds, he seems to get pushed around every year. It has to stop this year. Matt has received some major criticism over the past few years, but this past week it was taken to a new level. Words like lazy and underachieving were thrown at him. There was so much hate, in fact, that his teammates and coaches both had to come to his defense. Here’s Vince Marrow coming to his defense publicly, on twitter:
Keep workin. We got your back @FballIsLife69. Go Big Blue— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) July 12, 2017
- Third, the Cats need more from Stephen Johnson. Johnson told reporters on Wednesday that he’s been working hard this offseason preparing. In order for Kentucky to get over the hump, Johnson has to step out of the role of “game manager” and become an offensive leader. Only passing for 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns isn’t going to get Kentucky to Atlanta. It’s time for Johnson to step up and become the offensive threat UK needs him to be.
Kentucky has a legitimate chance at playing in Atlanta for the SEC title. In order to that, the team as a whole, needs to take it to another level. No more excuses, no more “we’ll get better next year”… it’s time.