SEC Team Preview Series: Kentucky
Welcome to WNSP’s preview series to get you ready for SEC and Sunbelt Media Days. Each day, we will preview a new team in each conference and get you ready for football season. We’ll take a look at what Vegas has their win total set at, make a prediction, and talk about their season outlook. Today’s team: The Kentucky Wildcats
Players to watch:
Offense: QB Will Levis, WR Tayvion Robinson, RB Chris Rodriguez Jr.
Defense: LB DeAndre Square, EDGE J.J. Weaver, S Tyrell Ajian
O/U Win Line: 7.5
Dave Schultz’s Pick: Over
Mark Heim’s Pick: Over
Lee Shirvanian’s Pick: Over
Nick Wiggins’ Pick: Over
Michael Brauner’s Pick: Over
Unanimous over! Mark Stoops has something good cooking up in Lexington. After a tough 2020 season in the Covid year where they went 5-6, Stoops and Penn State transfer quarterback Will Levis righted the ship in 2021 with a 10-3 record and a Citrus Bowl victory.
Levis is a legitimate star and will be the main factor in whether or not the Wildcats can continue to build on the success they enjoyed in 2021 even after a lot of roster turnover and the loss of their offensive coordinator. To replace Liam Coen, who departed for the Rams, Stoops hired former 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello who will try to continue the success of the 2021 offense.
He will have to do it without electrifying star wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, but the Wildcats did bring in Tayvion Robinson from Virginia Tech, who in addition to a namesake, shares a similar skillset to Wan’Dale and will likely be used similarly. Robinson combined with a group of promising freshman receivers should make the passing attack less of a one-trick pony than it was last year. Chris Rodriguez Jr. can break Benny Snell’s all-time rushing record at Kentucky with a solid season this year and the offensive line should be solid as well with three returning starters.
On defense, the Wildcats have a lot of returning talent to make up for losses of Josh Paschal and company. Tyrell Ajian will be huge in the secondary and even though he is undersized, DeAndre Square is a smart and talented playmaker that will be in a very featured role this season. J.J. Weaver leads a group of young and hungry pass rushers that are made up of some of the highest rated recruits Kentucky has ever seen, but it now must translate on the field.
Schedule wise, Kentucky should start 3-1 or maybe even 4-0 if they can get a win on the road at Florida week two. They do have to play Ole Miss and Tennessee on the road as well as an annual matchup with Georgia, but with a very manageable nonconference schedule, it should be very doable for Kentucky to win at least 8 games if not more this season. There is a reason why the over pick was unanimous from the crew today. I’ll take the Cats at 9-3.