HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Kentucky Wildcats had one of their best seasons in 2018 finishing 10-3 (5-3 in the SEC), ending their 31-game losing streak to Florida and winning their first bowl game since 2009.
But more importantly, this was the Wildcats’ first 10-win season in 41 years.
Head coach Mark Stoops enters his seventh season at the helm and has his work cut out for him as the Wildcats must replace their best defensive and offensive talents from a year ago.
Linebacker Josh Allen and running back Benny Snell were both selected in the 2019 NFL Draft and leave huge holes on both sides of the ball.
One of the players looking to replace Allen will be linebacker Kash Daniel.
Stoops called Daniel “relateable” and will become the new leader of the defense.
“He’s selfless. He cares about his team. He cares about winning,” Stoops said. “Sure, he wants to do good for himself, but he’s passionate about his brothers in that locker room. And I think that’s why a lot of people relate to him very well.”
On his goal for this season, Daniel kept it simple.
“Get to Atlanta,” Daniel said.
Daniel played most of the second half of the season with a broken hand and still finished third in tackles with 84.
Guard Logan Stenberg will be the strongest point for the Wildcats’ offensive line which was a major reason Snell had such a big year last year.
The senior was named to the Preseason Second Team All-American list. A huge accomplishment but something he isn’t focused on.
“It is an honor. It’s awesome, but it doesn’t mean everything,” Stenberg said. “We are going to go to work this year. It is only an accolade, and it is preseason, so it doesn’t mean anything at this point.”
The Alabama native was happy to be back in the state, saying even the air smelled different.
Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. led the Wildcats in all major categories in 2018.
Now that Snell has departed, Stoops said the receiver becomes the Wildcats’ biggest offensive playmaker and focus of their gameplan.
“We got to get the ball in his hands,” Stoops said. “He’s our guy who will make the explosive plays we need.”
It’ll be easy to get Bowden the ball as he is very familiar with the offense.
“I know the offense like the back of my hand,” Bowden said. “If they were to call something right now, I know everybody’s position in line, quarterback, running back, and receiver. Just being able to know all that makes my job easier, and I can help everybody else on the field.”
Will Kentucky continue their winning ways or fall back trying to replace major talent?
The Wildcats take on Toledo in Week 1 August 31.