Mark Stoops and his Kentucky Wildcats will open up their 2014 football season Saturday at 12 p.m. on the SEC TV Network in Commonwealth Stadium against UT–Martin from the Ohio Valley Conference, which went 7–5 last year. Tickets are still available and can be obtained online at www.ukathletics.com or www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800 – 928 – 2287 and asking for the ticket office.
Stoops and his entire coaching staff along with all his troops have been preaching since spring practice ended back in April that UK football will be much improved this fall in year No. 2 of the Stoops era. When your coming off two consecutive extremely ugly 2–10 seasons what else would anyone expect. Still, this is nice to know especially for all of the card carrying faithful in the Big Blue Nation and even those few UK football fans who still remain in the “Fellowship of the Miserable” club can buy into this theory until the first loss.
But nobody of any authority associated with the team will put a number on the ceiling for wins or if the team can pull out enough wins to visit the great state of Tennessee for the holidays.
If you want predictions and/or numbers associated with each of the 12 games on the schedule you’ll have to go online to our website www.combsbrothersonkysports.com and click on the UK football link in the center of the main front page for that. Short of that, I don’t think you’ll get anyone in the Commonwealth or across the college football landscape of the USA to predict UK to pull off what Auburn or Missouri did last year and go from worse to first and play in the SEC championship game. Just ain’t gonna happen. They say patience is a virtue so everybody best buy into this theory.
As for myself I’m very interested in seeing several of the new freshman recruits in game action and to see the impact it has taken across the roster in size, speed, and athleticism on both sides of the line.
For example, offensively the air raid offense that Neal Brown has brought in with Stoops is supposedly now a little more functional with running backs like “Boom” Wiliams, Mikel Horton, and transfer Braylon Heard. Also, the wide receiver positions have supposedly been much better stocked for SEC competition with freshmen like Dorian Baker, Blake Bone, TV Williams, etc. Defensively it shoudn’t be hard to locate Matt Elam on the DL along with RS freshman Reggie Meant. All together Stoops has said he expects a minimum of 14 true or red-shirt freshman to play in the Cats first two games with possibly more later on in the season based mainly on how many injuries occur to upperclassmen and at what positions.
At the end of the day it’s no secret that everyone involved with UK football in any official capacity has geared their thoughts and expectations toward 2015 when the stadium renovations will be complete, the Cats will have an eight-game home schedule, and Stoops will have brought on board his third consecutive recruiting class. But you can’t just hop and skip through 2014 and expect Big Blue Nation to just sit tight in anticipation of 2015.
Call it whatever you want to but progress or improvement must be shown on the field in the win column, but I’m betting Stoops and staff have a surprise or two up their sleeves that will put the two win seasons behind us. Remember, except for the Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia games last year, UK was within eight points or less entering the 4th quarter of all other games.
My crystal ball says Brown’s offense will score early and often Saturday say to the tune of 49–10.
UK Game Day Changes Around Commonwealth Stadium
When you arrive in the general vicinity of UK’s campus Saturday be patient not only with what UK is trying to develop on the field, but with all the construction work ongoing in and around Commonwealth Stadium. Most football season ticket holders have been informed by UK officials of their own personal changes and know about what to expect at Commonwealth Stadium but there is also many other construction projects in the general campus area. My advice is arrive early, it’s a noon kickoff anyway so why not have breakfast at your tail gate party and explore what you’ll need to do for the rest of the home games on game day to make this season as pleasant as possible.
You can go to www.ukathletics.com and get any info needed concerning changes. One tidbit you need to know is that gates 10 and 11 will be closed due to construction to fans all season. All fans entering or exiting from the south side, which is the press box side, will need to enter and exit thru gates 9 and 12. Even us folks in the media will have to enter through gate 5 on the opposite corner of the stadium.
You can go online to www.CombsBrothersOnKySports.com for more coverage of UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball.