Kentucky Wildcats: Ground Game Will Improve in 2014

By Tim Letcher
Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY SPORTS

If the Kentucky Wildcats are to improve on last season’s 2-10 record, the offense must be better.

When Neal Brown was hired by Mark Stoops to be UK’s offensive coordinator, fans in the Bluegrass were excited about the return of the “Air Raid” offense. During Brown’s playing days at UK, under then-coach Hal Mumme, Kentucky’s offense put up points in a hurry behind quarterback Tim Couch.

But Brown’s return to UK did not produce such results in season one. It was quite the opposite. Kentucky ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference in scoring offense (20.5 points per game) and in total offense (341.3 yards per game).

While the “Air Raid” offense is based on throwing the ball, the offense actually works much better when there is a solid ground game in place. And that is something Kentucky should be able to improve on in 2014.

Despite gaining under 150 yards per game on the ground last season, Kentucky does have a number of quality running backs. Last year’s leading rusher, sophomore-to-be Jojo Kemp returns after rushing for 482 yards and three touchdowns last season.

He will be joined by a host of newcomers that each have a ton of potential. Four-star running backs Mikel Horton and Stanley “Boom” Williams should see time on the field as true freshmen. Kentucky also hopes that Josh Clemons is able to return this season, after multiple injuries kept him out of action for nearly two years.

These players could help take the pressure off of new quarterback Drew Barker (should he earn the job), or returnees Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow. And if opponents have to account for the running game, it only helps the passing game. And that could mean the real return of the “Air Raid” in Lexington.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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