Last year Kentucky managed to win 7 games on the strength of their defense and with a stronger offense this team very well could have won 9-10 games. It was not just one unit that struggled it was all of them: QB play, Rb’s, wide receivers and the offensive line all left much to be desired on the offensive side of the ball. The offense did see some bright spots last year especially in freshmen sensation Randall Cobb who did a bit of everything last year including starting 4 games at QB and making some huge catches at wide receiver. mike Hartline was average at best last year, but played his best game of the year in the Liberty Bowl win over East Carolina.
Quarterback – Mike Hartline heads into Spring camp as the starter and it should stay that way heading into fall camp, but come fall all bets are off as stud QB prospects Ryan Mossakowski and Morgan Newton both look to come in and make an immediate impact on the offensive side of the ball. Mike Hartline barring injury in my opinion will see the majority of the snaps early on in the season, but most likely will be on a very short leash with Moss and Newton both setting their sights on the starters role. In order for Kentucky to take the next step in the success of this program they need solid QB play this season that can lead them to an 8-9 win season, that doesn’t mean you have to be a heisman trophy contender it just means that you need to be able to make the smart decisions every single game. While the talent level at UK is growing rapidly it is still not at the same level as the Florida’s, Georgia’s, and Alabama’s of the league and it is not good enough to overcome bad decisions and being on the wrong side of the turnover margin.
Prediction- Mike Hartline will start all 12 games this season barring injury. It is nearly impossible for an 18 year old kid to come and start right away especially in the SEC. The season starts off in a brutal fashion with Louisville, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Auburn in 5 straight weeks and while Hartline does not exactly set the world on fire there is one thing that he does do and that is he keeps you in the ball game. He is a very smart quarterback who knows what plays to get into for the offense and makes the smart play 9out of 10 times. Look for either Newton or Mossakowski to redshirt and the other to be the primary backup and by the end of the season seeing significant playing time. These 2 are the future of the program and will be outstanding players, but one can not expect them to come right in and be the starter and lead this team to where they want to be. It is necessary for them to get playing time, but the main playing time should be seen for one of these guys sometime around the Mississippi St game.
I will have another post tomorrow taking a look at the running back core