The defense did show improvement throughout the season. Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot had the Wildcats playing much better by the end of the year, even though there is still plenty of room for improvement. The return of defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith will give Kentucky a boost.
The 2014 spring practice sessions are important ones for Kentucky. The Wildcats cannot afford to have another 2-10 or 3-9 season. They must show improvement in 2014 to keep the momentum that Stoops has built during his time in Lexington. There is quite a bit of excitement around the program, especially when it comes to recruiting, but the team must start to win games if the excitement and the recruiting success are to continue.
Much of that will fall on the offense during the spring. It appears that five players will be competing for the starting quarterback job during the drills that start this week. Kentucky fans are hoping that native son and four-star recruit Drew Barker can win the job. Barker, who enrolled early and is already on campus, is from Conner High School in northern Kentucky, and he has all of the talent needed to run the “Air Raid” offense preferred by offensive coordinator Neal Brown.
Kentucky also needs to find receivers to catch passes from whoever the quarterback is. There are a lot of talented receivers coming to the Wildcats this fall, but most of them won’t arrive on campus in time to participate in spring practice.
Stoops has worked wonders with the Kentucky fan base and on the recruiting trail, but he needs to put wins on the scoreboard sooner rather than later. And preparing for that starts with spring practice.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com 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.