Joker Phillips’ job at Kentucky can’t be easy. After all, they seem to always live in the shadow of their band of basketball brothers, and never seem to come out. Even when they posted relatively successful numbers in 2006 – 2009, no-one particularly appreciated them, and even now it’s as though Randall Cobb went straight from high school to Green Bay without playing for Big Blue in between.

Well, Joker wants to make right on all of that, and have a team that can not only own hated rival Louisville, but do some damage in the SEC East. Can this be his year?

LAST SEASON

Last season the Kentucky Wildcats were pretty awful, finishing the year 5-7. That might not seem bad at all, but when your wins are against Western Kentucky (where they looked awful), Central Michigan, Jacksonville State and even-worse Ole Miss and ‘What In God’s Name Is Happening At That School?’ Tennessee, it’s hardly a season to look back on and say: ‘Gosh, I loved being a Wildcats fan back then’.

Still, the NFL’s teams drafted defensive back Winston Guy and linebacker Danny Trevathan – the only two players to go this year from the school.

WHO’S GOING TO REPLACE TREVATHAN AND GUY?

Right, so Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy leave the University of Kentucky with heads held him, taking with them 263 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and 6 INTs, plus being on-the-field leaders. That’s a lot that goes – if you consider that Ronnie Sneed (71) and Ridge Wilson (47) are also gone from the linebacking corps. The holes are going to be immense.

The Wildcats are going to depend a lot on defensive end Martavius Neloms and safety Mike Benton (seven pass break-ups) to cause some problems, as well as Avery Williamson (LB) and Alvin Dupree. Having said that, it’s going to be quite the task to replace St. Danny and St. Winston.

BUT AT LEAST JOKER HAS A QUARTERBACK…

This week Joker Phillips announced that Maxwell Smith would become the school’s starting quarterback. And while he can’t do a great interview (check out the opening remarks), he’s got a good arm, but frankly, the choice between him (819 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs) and injured Morgan Newton (793, 8 TDs, 7 INTs), isn’t exactly a beautiful one. We can’t wait until Patrick Towles – the No.1 QB in the State of Kentucky – takes over the reins (which we think he will – maybe as soon as the middle of the season).

Smith will be helped by the receiving talents of La’ Rod King (598 yards, 7 TDs), who’d better not get injured – because he’s the standout in the unit….by a mile. Could he be the next Randall Cobb?

AND SOME RUNNING BACKS

One of the problem places on this Kentucky team is NOT going to be running the ball, with Josh Clemsons, CoShik Williams, and Jonathan George. Although, as Lindy’s remarked: “They’ll have to make plays behind a relatively inexperienced line, which lost three starters and has very little depth”. That’s encouraging reading, bearing in mind Kentucky’s schedule!

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

September 2 at Louisville

September 8 KENT STATE

September 15 WESTERN KENTUCKY

September 22 at Florida

September 29 SOUTH CAROLINA

October 6 MISSISSIPPI STATE

October 13 at Arkansas

October 20 GEORGIA

October 27 at Missouri

November 3 VANDERBILT

November 17 SAMFORD

November 24 at Tennessee

The Bottom Line: Joker Phillips is going to win some games this year – although we don’t think it’ll be ANY in the SEC (sorry, UK fans!). The team’s inexperienced all over the field on both directions, and against better teams (which they all are this year, it seems), the Wildcats will struggle. We think the Wildcats will end up with a 4-8 record, including a winless SEC record.

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