||KENTUCKY at LOUISVILLE
3:30 p.m. ET
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (42,000)
|LIVE TV: ESPNU
[Eric Collins, play-by-play; Brock Huard,, color analyst]
Joker Phillips is in his first season at Kentucky and overall. The Wildcats' offensive coordinator is Randy Sanders and the defensive coordinator is Steve Brown.
Charlie Strong is in his first season at UL and overall. However, he is 0-1 overall as he served as the interim head coach of the Florida Gators in the 2004 Chick-fil-a Bowl. The Cardinals' offensive coordinator is Mike Sanford and the defensive coordinator is Vance Bedford.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN KENTUCKY HAS THE BALL
The most obvious question about the team is at quarterback. Hartline started the first five games last season before being sidelined by a knee injury. He has thrown for 2,502 yards and 15 touchdowns during his career, completing 56.7 percent of his passes. After Hartline's injury, Morgan Newton derailed an intended redshirt year and started the last eight games, five of which were victories. He completed 55.6 percent for 706 yards and six touchdowns, with only three interceptions. Junior wide receiver Randall Cobb was a first-team All-SEC honoree last year as an all-purpose player. He led the team in receiving with 39 catches for 447 yards and four touchdowns. Senior tailback Derrick Locke returns to lead the backfield.
The spring showed that the Cardinals are going to need a lot of different combinations of players to step up if the defense is going to be successful. The Cardinals do have some talented linebackers returning in seniors Brandon Heath and Antwone Canady, but it is a unit that does lack much-needed depth. Heath, who will play the weakside, recorded 48 tackles and a pair of interceptions, including one for a touchdown, while Canady, who will be in the middle, was credited with 34 stops. Johnny Patrick played all 12 games a year ago. He recorded 53 tackles and was tied for second on the team with a pair of interceptions.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN LOUISVILLE HAS THE BALL
In addition to improving on third down, a big task on defense will be to replace the contributions of six departed starters, four of whom earned All-SEC honors last season. Senior defensive end DeQuin Evans is a player who can fill a leadership role. He had 12.5 tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks last season, leading the team in both categories. At the other end, Taylor Wyndham earned second-team Freshman All- America honors last season by numbering 28 tackles, 6.5 for loss and two sacks.
The biggest uncertainty on offense is the quarterback position, as the Cardinals had three different starters in 2009. Victor Anderson, Bilal Powell and Jeremy Wright give the Cardinals one of the deepest and most talented backfields in the league. Anderson was the Cardinals' leading rusher despite missing most of the season due to injury. Senior Doug Beaumont is the premier receiver of the group, having caught over 100 passes for 1,265 yards in his career. With basically five starters returning, the offensive line could be the strength of the team.
Exciting possibilities are available in kick returns with Cobb and Locke. Cobb averaged 12.8 yards per punt return last season, including a 73-yard jaunt for a touchdown, and also averaged 26.5 yards on kickoff returns. Locke averaged 27.8 yards on kickoff returns and has 100-yard runbacks for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. Junior Ryan Tydlacka is a solid punter, averaging 40 yards per boot last season, and is adept at landing the ball near the goal line.
The placekicking duties are in the capable hands of junior Chris Philpott. The native of Atlanta, Ga., was a perfect 5-for-5 last year on field-goal attempts and is coming off a great spring. He was consistent, but also showed an ability to hit field goals of 50 or more yards.
Record: UK, 13-9
This will be the first game for Joker Phillips as head coach of Kentucky. With Phillips serving as coordinator of record-setting offenses under previous head coach Rich Brooks, the Wildcats made school history with four-consecutive bowl games and three-straight bowl victories.