Kentucky Wildcats Must Win Big in Opener

By Tim Letcher

If the Kentucky Wildcats are to keep the program’s momentum going, they must win convincingly in Saturday’s season opener.

Head coach Mark Stoops has gotten the program moving in the right direction during his time in Lexington. Stoops and his staff have recruited at a level never before seen in the Bluegrass. Stoops’ classes have been ranked among the nation’s best in both of his recruiting periods.

However, the Wildcats stumbled to a 2-10 record last season. The influx of new talent was too young to contribute and poor quarterback play hampered the “Air Raid” attack of offensive coordinator Neal Brown.

Now, those players that were first-year guys last season have a year in the system under their belts. And Stoops added a new crop of talented players, many of whom will be expected to contribute right away.

To keep the program headed in the right direction, Kentucky needs to show progress on the field in 2014. That starts on Saturday when the Wildcats face Tennessee-Martin of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division 1-AA). If the Wildcats are to hang with their opponents from the mighty Southeastern Conference, they should be able to blow out the Skyhawks.

Not winning in a big way might create some rumbles in the dedicated fan base. The Big Blue Nation has heard about all of the recruiting victories and the influx of talent into the program. But this is a bottom line game, and winning games is the most important thing.

Kentucky should be able to roll past UT-Martin without much trouble. The staff, and the fans, will be watching the quarterback position to see how native son and redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles handles the position. If Brown can get Towles to run the offense more efficiently than it was run last season, that will go a long way in healing the wounds of a 2-10 campaign.

The Wildcats are hoping to show improvement in 2014 and that starts with a blowout win on Saturday.

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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