The Cats notched 18 wins in the last two seasons, and last year’s 8-5 campaign was all the more impressive considering Terry Wilson’s season-ending injury in week two. The season ended up being saved by moving wide-receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to the quarterback position where, even though he was one-dimensional, he was too good to be shut down running the Wildcat offense.
Bowden is gone, but if Wilson can return to form, there is hope for another strong season in Lexington. The Wildcats return four starters on the line, anchored by center Drake Jackson, and the bruising one-two punch of Asim Rose and Kavosiey Smoke at running back. Isaiah Epps and Josh Ali are both serviceable receivers who can exceed those expectations if Wilson finds his late 2018 form again or the flashes of promise he showed in his limited time at the helm last season.
Defensively, the Cats have a reputation for being tough under Stoops and return plenty of talent. They struggled against the run at times last season, though, and will have to improve in that area if they want to make a Cinderella run at the Eastern division title. They have an excellent punter in Max Duffy, who won the Ray Guy award last year, and a proven placekicker in senior Matt Ruffolo.
While a .500 record at most SEC schools would get you run out of town, Kentucky has given Stoops the time to build a program that has every opportunity to win 8-9 games on an annual basis, which is a heck of an achievement in a town constantly waiting for basketball season.