(WAVE) - Anyone following Kentucky football this year is wondering whether the Wildcats are a program on the rise, or if last year’s 10-win season was an aberration.
UK welcomes Toledo to Kroger Field in Lexington on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.
With star running back Benny Snell off to the NFL, second-year starter Terry Wilson will have to take a big step forward as Kentucky’s quarterback this year. The junior threw for 1,889 yards calling a run-heavy offense in 2018, but his 67-percent completion rate last year suggests that step forward is likely. Wilson also tacked on 547 yards rushing a season ago.
Toledo also brings a second-year starting quarterback into the season opener. Quarterback Mitchell Guadagni, who missed several games last year because of a concussion, will lead the Rockets offense this year.
Kentucky fans might see a familiar face wearing navy and gold on Saturday. Toledo running back Bryant Koback was a UK redshirt two seasons ago. Last year, he topped 900 yards rushing for the Rockets, to go along with 14 touchdowns.
Lynn Bowden was a key wideout for UK last year and will be relied on to make big plays this season. But without the threat of Snell in the backfield to set up the pass, and without a proven No. 2 receiver, Bowden will have to earn those big gains.
Filling Josh Allen’s shoes won’t be easy for Kentucky, but senior linebacker Kash Daniel is back to provide toughness and leadership for a defensive unit that will be folding in some new faces in 2019.
Kentucky’s most experienced returning defensive back is Jordan Griffin, who has started five games in his career.
The Wildcats get another MAC visitor in Week 2 when Eastern Michigan comes to Kroger Field. Starting the season with two beatable opponents should help UK work out any bugs before Florida comes calling in Week 3.