Friday, February 24, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Kentucky Wildcats

The SEC had a down year compared to other years, as Alabama was the lone team to win 10 games or more in 2016. That is an unusual turn of events for the self proclaimed best conference in college football. The East was still down, as Florida and Tennessee continued to struggle despite having high expectations. Georgia is still trying to find themselves under Kirby Smart. LSU made a mess of the Les Miles situation. Ole Miss was clouded over by off-field issues. Here is a look back at the 2016 SEC season, on a team by team basis.

Kentucky Wildcats
7-6 (4-4)

2016 Schedule
Lost to Southern Mississippi 44-35
Lost to Florida 45-7
Beat New Mexico State 62-42
Beat South Carolina 17-10
Lost to Alabama 34-6
Beat Vanderbilt 20-13
Beat Mississippi State 40-38
Beat Missouri 35-21
Lost to Georgia 27-24
Lost to Tennessee 49-36
Beat Austin Peay 49-13
Beat Louisville 41-38
Lost to Georgia Tech 34-18 (Gator Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Benjamin Snell, Jr.
It was an up and down season for Kentucky football, and the offense was centered on a steallar run game that carried the team all season. Snell was the leader in terms of carries (186) and scoring (13 TDs), and he averaged 5.87 yards per game. He ran for 192 yards and two scores in a 14 point win over Missouri, and ran for another 152 yards and two scores in a meaningless game against Austin Peay late in the season. In all, he rushed for 100 yards or more five times during the season.
MVP Defense: LB Jordan Jones
Jones had a massive season in 2016 for the Wildcats during a season that was not exactly stellar defensively. Jones led the team with 109 tackles (8.38 per game), and also led the team with 15.5 TFLs on the year. He also recorded 4 sacks, collected 4 PBUs, and created 9 QB hurries. He collected 19 tackles in the loss to Southern Miss, and picked up 11 against Mississippi State, and added another 10 against Georgia.
Others of Note
Steohen Johnson took over at QB in week two, and passed for 2037 yards and 13 TDs to 6 INTs. He added 3 more scores on the ground. He completed just 54.7% of his passes as a junior.
Boom Williams was right there with Snell in terms of rushing production. He ran for 1170 yards and 7 scores, while averaging 6.84 yards per carry.
Only three receivers caught 20 passes or more.
DB Mike Edwards joined the triple digit club in tackles, as he racked up 100 on the season. He added 5.5 TFLs and 3 INTs, and added a team leading 8 PBUs.
Sophomore DB Derrick Baity knocked down 7 passes.
Sophomore DL Denzel Ware piled up 12 TFLs and 5.5 sacks.
Sophomore LB Josh Allen forced four fumbles.
PK Austin MacGinnis was highly accurate in 2016, hitting 16/19 FGs, and hit 44/45 PATs.
Best Win: Louisville 41-38
Kentucky only finished 2-3 in their final five games, and stumbled into their bowl birth, but beating Louisville was a huge way for the Wildcats to finish the regular season. It was also one of their two wins against teams with a winning record.
Worst Loss: Southern Miss 44-35
Some had favored USM in this game, but Kentucky was in complete control early before imploding to fall to the Golden Eagles in Lexington. USM went on to have a very mediocre season, and this loss had some thinking that the Wildcats would fall short of expectations, and even had Mark Stoops thinking about his job security right out of the gate.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 at Southern Mississippi, 9/9 Eastern Kentucky, 9/30 Eastern Michigan, 11/25 Louisville
The dates against Eastern Michigan and Eastern Kentucky are flat out wins. Southern Miss is a revenge is a revenge game against an Eagles team that loses some key parts, while Louisville will be looking for revenge against the Cats in Lexington. Worst case scenario here is 2-2, but I am thinking more like 3-1 against this group.

No comments:

Post a Comment