- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're taking a look at the grades for the Kentucky Wildcats from the 2012 season:
OFFENSE: Injuries ravaged Kentucky's entire team, but really crippled the Wildcats' offense. The biggest losses were starting quarterback Maxwell Smith and running backs Josh Clemons, who sat out the 2012 season because of a knee injury he suffered in 2011, and CoShik Williams. They all missed significance time and the Wildcats' offense suffered because of it. Kentucky finished the season 13th in the SEC in total offense (315 yards per game) and last in scoring (17.9). Kentucky scored less than 20 points nine times in 2012 and managed more than 400 yards of total offense just three times all season, while averaging a league-low 4.8 yards per play. The Wildcats tied for last in the SEC with 27 touchdowns and were last with eight field goals. They were also 13th in the league with 146 plays that went more than 10-plus yards. The Wildcats ended up playing the majority of the season with two freshmen quarterbacks in Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles. They combined to throw three touchdowns and three interceptions. Whitlow played in 10 games, throwing for 801 yards. Raymond Sanders battled through injury to lead the Wildcats with 669 rushing yards and five touchdowns. La'Rod King led Kentucky in receiving (488), but after King, no player registered more than 297 receiving yards. Injuries were a major part of Kentucky's struggles, but the offense just never saw any sort of growth or improvement throughout the year. Grade: F
DEFENSE: The defense made strides in the second year under defensive coordinator Rick Minter, but the Wildcats finished the season ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in all of the major defensive categories, including ranking 13th in the league in scoring defense (31). The Wildcats also surrendered 48 touchdowns and were outscored 372-215. Eight times Kentucky allowed 30-plus points in games last fall. The Wildcats only grabbed 13 takeaways, including just five interceptions. Kentucky had injury issues on the defensive side, as well, but there wasn't enough growth from this defense as the season went on. Against SEC opponents, the Wildcats were outscored by an average of 25 points and gave up 36 points in those games. The Wildcats also allowed 424 yards in SEC games. Grade: F
OVERALL: A year after stopping a string of five straight bowl appearances, the Wildcats won just two games and went winless in SEC play. Coach Joker Phillips didn't even make it through the season, but he admitted during his way out that there weren't enough positive results for him to stay at Kentucky. The offense sputtered out of control thanks to injury and poor execution, while the defense was below average for most of the year. For the second straight year, the Wildcats struggled finding consistent playmakers on offense and the defense broke down too many times during league play. Things got off to a rocky start with the loss to Louisville, and the best win of the season came against a Kent State team that nearly made a BCS bowl game. Grade: F
13hSam Khan Jr.
2dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough