Sanders has a couple of talented guys to work with – Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley – so the Big Blue’s quarterback play should be better than it was in 2005, when UK finished 101 out of 117 Div. 1 programs in passing. Also, the return of star running back Rafael Little should take some pressure off of Sanders’ QBs.
In spite of the potential for improvement on offense, the Wildcats appear to be one of the three weakest teams in the SEC, along with Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. There just aren’t enough quality defenders to compete in the rugged Southeastern Conference. Coming off records of 4-8, 2-9, 3-8 in his first three years at UK, head man Rich Brooks appears to be on the way out. Some wags are even calling this season the “Dead Man Walking Tour.”
At least one source outside of Lexington thinks Kentucky could be improved in 2006, however. The lead story at Collegefootballnews.com features the headline: Is Kentucky actually good? Beneath this teaser is the sub-head: “Well, it'll be better. RB Rafael Little leads a veteran team that has more position battles and options than ever under embattled head coach Rich Brook.”
The fact CFN.com left the S off Brooks’ last name isn’t encouraging. Nor is his resume’. Brooks has done nothing thus far to suggest he can right the ship. As CFN.com’s Pete Fiutak notes:
“Of the nine wins in the Brooks era, two have been against D-IAA teams, two have been over Vanderbilt, two have been over Mississippi State, two have been over Indiana, and one was against Ohio. Brooks doesn't have to win the SEC East, but his team has to be far more competitive against the big boys and could use a win over someone with a pulse.”
Because UK has a weak non-conference schedule, Fiutak believes the Wildcats have a chance to surpass expectations and finish with a 7-5 or 6-6 record this fall. Here’s what he has to say:
“Can Kentucky do what Vanderbilt did last year and be a surprise team in the East? It has the potential and enough athleticism to come close, and the schedule is conducive to flirting with bowl eligibility. No matter what happens, this will be a turning point season for the program.”
Hey, at least we can agree on that last point.