2020 Preview: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky put forth a surprising breakout season in 2018 in a 10-win season, but they took a step back after quarterback Terry Wilson suffered an injury. Can the Wildcats rebound with Wilson back under center? We know they’ve lost their major playmaker in jack-of-all-trades Lynn Bowden Jr., who led the team in rushing and receiving and was second in passing, but let’s see what they have to offer in 2020. 

Top Returners: Asim Rose, Jamar Watson

Asim Rose handled a large portion of the running duties when Bowden was busy elsewhere on the field, and he put up very solid numbers, averaging 5.5 yards per carry for 826 yards on the year. Kentucky has two other 500-yard rushers returning, but expect Rose to lead what should be a run-heavy attack in Lexington. On the other side of the ball, Kentucky suffered some losses and features a good pass defense, but there’s questions elsewhere. Jamar Watson will be key to getting the Wildcats off the field, as he had 6.5 sacks in 2019 and returns for another year in Kentucky. Can he elevate a defense that will need to bail out a mediocre offense. 

Biggest Concern: Receiving corps

Bowden led this group with just 348 receiving yards in 2019, and the Wildcats also lost Ahmad Wagner, who notched 254 yards. Terry Wilson returning is great, until you realize there’s very little in the way of proven players for him to connect with downfield. A great running game will only get you so far, so Kentucky will need players like Josh Ali (233 receiving yards in 2019) to step up and become a dangerous weapon within their offense. 

X-Factors: Terry Wilson, Yusuf Corker
Wilson is a relatively obvious choice here for the Kentucky offensive X-factor. How will he fare returning from injury in a physical SEC? The answer to that question could determine the fate of the Wildcats. Defensively, Yusuf Corker returns as Kentucky’s leader in tackles while also ranking fourth on the team in passes defended and one of several players tied for second with 1 interception in 2019. Kentucky will need some versatile weapons to help their defense off the field, and Corker seems like a player who could make that happen for the Wildcats. 

SEC Record Prediction: 1-7
Can you be an overrated sleeper team? I believe that’s the best way to describe Kentucky who had Athlon Sports unanimously rank them as the SEC’s best sleeper team, and Phil Steele rank them inside his top 25. Predictions for Kentucky are all over the board, but I am really not high on the ‘Cats. I’m not anticipating Wilson, who’s at his best as a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, to be able to return in full force in the best conference in America. Road games against Auburn and Florida make for some very difficult conference contests, and a home date with Vanderbilt appears to be their most winnable contest. Maybe Wilson surprises me, but I’m not holding my breath on a big year in Lexington. 

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