For the first time since Tim Couch was at the helm of University of Kentucky’s pass-happy offense, UK football fans are eager for an upcoming season. That’s right. Kentucky football. Coming off of a 28-20 Music City Bowl upset over Clemson University, the Wildcats have already received some good news for the 2007 season. Junior wide receiver Keenan Burton, who finished second in the Southeastern Conference and 14th in the nation with 77 receptions, announced that he will return to Lexington to finish his college career. Andre Woodson, who many people have touted as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, will also return for his senior season. In the Music City Bowl, Woodson was 20-28 for 299-yards and three touchdowns, and he did not turn the ball over. Woodson improved by leaps and bounds in making the transition to being the full-time starting quarterback. Woodson won the position after beating out former Kentucky’s Mr. Football winner Curtis Pulley in the summer. Woodson passed for over 3,500-yards in 2006, finishing second in the SEC, behind JaMarcus Russell from Louisiana State University. Running backs Rafael Little and Tony Dixon also returned for the ‘Cats. A turf toe injury hindered Little to playing in just nine games, but he still managed to rush almost 700-yards. Little and Dixon, along with surprising freshman Alfonso Smith, should prove to be a formidable trio in the backfield in 2007.
Defense Must Improve in 2007. While UK was fun to watch on the offensive side of the ball, watching the defense was painful at times. The Wildcats allowed a league-worst 369-points in 2006. Its inability to stop the run proved costly at times, and the Wildcats finished the regular season 112th-out-of-119 Division I-A teams in rushing defense.
Favorable schedule should help UK in 2007. Kentucky will again play a weak non-conference schedule in 2007. With home games against Florida Atlantic University, Eastern Kentucky University, and a road game at Temple University, UK should go at least 3-1 in non-conference play, with a home game against intrastate rival University of Louisville Sept. 15, being its toughest game outside of the SEC. The conference slate will again be hard for the Wildcats, but it will play the most difficult games at Commonwealth stadium. UK will face LSU and University of Florida in back-to-back home games in mid-October in Lexington. The ‘Cats will face archrival University of Tennessee in the season finale at home Nov. 24.