By Otis Kirk
Kentucky is known for its basketball team, but in 2018 the football program was pretty good as well.
The Wildcats finished 10-3, including 5-3 in the SEC, and defeated Penn State 27-24 in the Citrus Bowl. That was an amazing season for Mark Stoops. He is 36-39 in six years as head coach at Kentucky.
The question is now can Kentucky repeat that success with the loss of such stars as first-round pick outside linebacker Josh Allen and talented running back Benny Snell. Offensive guard Bunchy Stallings was an All-American as well and is gone as well.
The Wildcats return four starters on offense including junior quarterback Terry Wilson. As a sophomore, Wilson completed 180 of 268 passes for 1,889 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He did rank 14th in the SEC in passing yards per game. He also was second on the team in rushing with 135 carries for 547 yards and four touchdowns.
Wilson’s favorite target returns as well. Junior wide receiver Lynn Bowden is back after leading the team with 67 receptions for 745 yards and five touchdowns.
Kentucky has two starters returning on the offensive line including left guard Logan Stenberg. He has been compared to Stallings by some. The senior is hoping to also earn All-American honors in 2019.
On defense, the Wildcats also return just four starters. Allen was obviously the key defender last season. The defense this season will be led by junior nose guard Quinton Bohanna. The 6-foot-4, 361-pound Bohanna is from Cordova, Tenn. He has NFL teams looking very hard at him as well.
Senior middle linebacker Kash Daniel is a former U.S. Army All-American recruit who is very talented. Junior Jamar Watson is also back at strongside linebacker.
While Kentucky had an outstanding team in 2018 they took a big hit by graduation as evidenced by only eight starters returning this season. They could struggle to approach the 10-win season they enjoyed last year. That was the best season for football at Kentucky in over 40 years.
Kentucky opens the season on Aug. 31 by hosting Toledo. The next week they host Eastern Michigan. Week 3 will see Florida come to Lexington on Sept. 14. The Wildcats beat Florida 27-16 in Gainesville last season to snap a 31-game losing streak to the Gators.
The Wildcats will then go on the road for back-to-back SEC road games at Mississippi State on Sept. 21 and then at South Carolina on Sept. 28. The bye week will proceed the Arkansas game.