14 Burning Questions for 2012: #11 – Kentucky

14 SEC teams in 2012 and a burning question for each. Today is #11 of 14.

Hey Kentucky fans, are you missing Rich Brooks yet?

Brooks spent seven years at Kentucky and though it got off to a rough start with three losing seasons, his last four were stellar by bluegrass football standards. He took the Cats to four straight bowls and then tagged off to Joker Phillips in 2010.

Phillips, meanwhile, has posted back-to-back seven loss seasons and effectively killed any momentum started by Brooks.

Last year, thanks to Western Kentucky, Central Michigan and Jacksonville State, the Wildcats won five games. Oh yeah, they also broke a 26 game losing streak to Kentucky in one of the worst football games ever played. And thank goodness for Ole Miss. The Cats thumped the Rebel Black Bears 30-13 at home.

But The seven losses included some very ugly football, including thumpings from Florida, LSU and South Carolina.

Overall, 11 starters return, six on offense and five on defense. And the Cats return their top four rushers, their top two passers and their top receiver from 2011. But, like last year, none of the returning players are named Randall Cobb or Andre Woodson.

The Cats were horrible on offense last year (to put it mildly). Their 2011 offensive output included 190 yards against Western Kentucky, 155 against LSU, 96 against South Carolina and 165 against Georgia. Take away the Ole Miss game and the Cats top yardage game in the conference was 307 against Mississippi State.

Things should be somewhat better with Maxwell Smith at quarterback, but the Wildcats have a way to go before they even reach mediocre.

And even if they are better, they are still playing in the SEC. Beginning on September 22nd, the Wildcats begin a stretch of games that includes: Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Vanderbilt. Kentucky closes out the season in Knoxville against Tennessee. The Cats should be underdogs in all of those games.

This will be a tough season – again – for the Wildcats. And given how they did in basketball, I’m sure most Kentucky fans could not care less.