Kentucky season awards: Wildcats undone by second-half slide
While most of the SEC’s teams are preparing for bowl games and new opponents as the postseason begins, Kentucky is already thinking about next year. The Wildcats have no other choice.
A loss to Louisville on Saturday ended their 5-7 season, marking the fifth straight year they didn’t earn six wins en route to bowl eligibility.
It was a season of ups and downs for the Wildcats, featuring disappointing performances, a struggle to compete with the nation’s more dominant teams and a late-season quarterback change that very well could have influenced Patrick Towles’ decision to transfer. But there were also bright moments, big plays and glimpses into a more successful future if Kentucky can work out some kinks. Take a look.
Team MVP: Sophomore running back Boom Williams
Williams led the team in rushing, averaging 85.5 yards per game on the ground with 855 yards for the season. He sat out for at least parts of three different games with injuries, including all of the UGA game. Every time he missed minutes, Kentucky’s offense stopped clicking without him.
Defensive MVP: Senior linebacker Josh Forrest
Forrest was one of just four defensive players to start all 12 of Kentucky’s games. His team-leading 93 total tackles were Kentucky’s best by a long shot — in second, senior safety A.J. Stamps picked up 67.
Best Freshman: Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Barker
Barker came onto the scene late in the season, but he impressed coach Mark Stoops so much that Stoops gave him the starting job instead of Towles for the final two games. Barker is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future, he has great instincts and several years to grow.
Biggest Surprise: Holding their own against Florida
Florida plays in the SEC Championship game this weekend. The Wildcats only lost to the Gators by five, 14-9, on Sept. 19
Best Play: Senior defensive tackle Cory Johnson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown
The 300-pound senior recovered a fumble against Tennessee and legged out a 77-yard return to give the Wildcats an early lead.
Overall Grade: C
The Wildcats know they need to get a lot better. The fan base still isn’t satisfied.