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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Hope and concern: Kentucky

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Biggest reason for hope: Better talent and more depth

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks will be the first to tell you that the Wildcats wouldn't have been able to weather the loss of a player the caliber of Jeremy Jarmon three or four years ago, and it still remains to be seen how much the defense will suffer with the senior defensive end being ruled ineligible this season. But the good news is that Kentucky has been able to recruit a higher caliber of player the last couple of years, thanks in large part to the Wildcats' success. Moreover, their depth on defense is better than it's ever been under Brooks. There are several younger players such as defensive ends Chandler Burden and Collins Ukwu and linebacker Danny Trevathan who appear poised to make their mark, while a pair of junior college newcomers -- tackle Mark Crawford and end DeQuin Evans -- will also help up front. Crawford had the benefit of going through spring practice.

Biggest reason for concern: Lack of offensive playmakers

Outside of Randall Cobb, who proved last season he can make plays no matter where he lines up, who's going to make things happen for the Wildcats on offense? If nobody else emerges, defenses are really going to gang up on Cobb. And, remember, he's still learning all the ins and outs of the receiver position. There are no other proven receivers on this team, and then you throw in the fact that quarterback Mike Hartline didn't exactly light it up throwing the ball last season, and it's easy to see why it's difficult right now to identify where all the offensive production is going to come from. The news sounds better on running back Derrick Locke's recovery from knee surgery. But other than Cobb, there's not an established difference-maker on offense, the kind of player who can change the complexion of a game with two or three plays.