There is a buzz surrounding the 2014 Kentucky Wildcats. That may seem hard to believe, since the ‘Cats were 2-10 last season. However, head coach Mark Stoops is saying and doing things that fans in the Bluegrass State are not accustomed to hearing.
First, Stoops has taken Kentucky’s recruiting to places it has never been before. Since the inception of recruiting class rankings, Kentucky has never had a class ranked higher than the 2014 haul that Stoops signed in February.
Stoops also did a smart thing by hiring Neal Brown, a former Wildcat receiver, to be the offensive coordinator. Brown runs the “Air Raid” offense that Kentucky fans love to watch. While the “Air Raid” had trouble getting off the ground last season, the attack should be better in 2014.
Another buzz-worthy item is that the Wildcats have two homegrown quarterbacks contending to be the starter in 2014. Redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles appears to have a slight edge over true freshman Drew Barker. Both of those players are from the northern part of the state, and the Big Blue Nation would be thrilled to have either of them as the starting quarterback.
But it’s that Big Blue Nation that is a concern right now. With so much momentum and excitement surrounding the Wildcats’ program, the fans may have expectations that are too high for the talent of this team. Yes, Stoops has done a great job at upgrading the talent level in Lexington. Yes, the future looks bright for this program. But this team is not ready to compete for a Southeastern Conference title, and probably not for a bowl game.
The Big Blue Nation will suffer through a 4-8 or 5-7 season this year. The question is, will there still be excitement about the team next season? If Kentucky fans can be patient, all of the talent that Stoops is bringing in will start to make plays and make the team more competitive in the coming seasons. It’s just not likely to happen in 2014.
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.