By Jordan Brown
We are only a few days out from the season opener at Auburn University and Kentucky fans are excited to see what this year’s Mark Stoops team will bring to the table. Considering the fact that many players on the team have been awarded preseason accolades from many sources, fans are riding high heading into this game. But the recognition continues to pour in for our Wildcats, and we are just hoping that they do not disappoint.
Only a couple of days out from gameday, the Preseason Media All-SEC Teams were announced. The teams featured six Wildcats from this year’s team including three on the first team. Picked fourth in the Eastern division seems like a very reachable goal for the team, but with few fans on the road and limited during home games, every game seems up in the air.
The three Wildcats representing Kentucky on the first team include punter Max Duffy, center Drake Jackson, and offensive tackle Landon Young. With one of the more established offensive lines that Kentucky has had in previous years, I am interested to see whether Kentucky plans to rely more on the pass or run game offensively. Terry Wilson should have great protection up front from this year’s Big Blue Wall, and we are all curious to see whether he still has that breakaway speed from before his injury. Even if not, Lexington native Beau Allen was recently named as his backup and seems prepared for the big stage.
Hopefully he is not on the field much as we hope for a high scoring offense, but punter Max Duffy is one of the best outlets in the country to have. He is the career punter leader by average in Kentucky history at 46.3- yards per punt average and was awarded the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter after last season. He has been named first team All-American by Walter Camp, the AP, Sporting News, ESPN, FWAA, AFCA Coaches’, The Athletic, USA Today, Phil Steele and Athlon Sports. The Perth, Australia native has a lot of hype to live up to this year and hopefully he is up for the challenge.
Three Wildcats were also named to the second and third All-SEC preseason teams. Offensive tackle Darian Kinnard was selected to the second team, while Josh Paschal, and linebacker Jamar “Boogie” Watson were named to the third. Paschal started in all 13 games in 2019 after missing the entirety of the 2018 season, totaling 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks during his comeback. Our rushing defense should be strong this year with Watson alongside Paschal who had 11.5 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries last season.
Still a lot of unanswered questions remain for the Wildcats heading into this unusual season, but with experience, this team should be able to adjust week in and week out. They will be tested every week with the All-SEC schedule and I think we will know what our team is really like about midway through the season opener on the road at Auburn.