Kentucky's roster this year is an odd collection. There are a few players that played well last year, but no one who proved themselves to be a consistent game-changer. The quarterback position was a confused and often injured jumble in 2011, with Morgan Newton so banged up that he was still being held out of contact in spring practice. The defense only had a few truly awful games, but wasn't able to make up for the offensive incompetence in the others. So the two players listed here as key cogs in this season's Kentucky team will have to produce -- but some other players are going to have to step up to change the momentum.
BIGGEST RETURN | WR La'Rod King
On a team that didn't do much scoring -- the Wildcats averaged 15.8 points per game, even when the cupcakes are factored in -- King did the lion's share of the scoring that was done. His seven touchdowns were nearly a third of the team's total (22), more than half of its receiving scores (12), and more than twice as much as anyone else -- CoShik Williams was next with three. King's 14.9 yard per catch average was pretty healthy in a passing system that was anemic. If the Wildcats can stabilize and improve the quarterback position even a little, King might be able to do even more.
BIGGEST LOSS | LB Danny Trevathan
If there was a great player on Kentucky last year, the kind of player that any team in the league would have welcomed, it was Trevathan. The linebacker had 143 tackles on the season, 11.5 for loss and three of them sacks. He also picked off four passes and defended nine more, forced five fumbles and recovered a ball on the turf.
It doesn't make it easier that Winston Guy, who played a hybrid linebacker and safety position, has also moved on. Guy was second on the team with 120 tackles, 14 for loss and 1.5 sacks, along with two picks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Essentially, Kentucky has to replace the two best defensive players on the team -- and both of them spent at least part of their time on the same unit.
BREAKTHROUGH POSSIBILITY | LB Avery Williamson
If there's some hope for the linebacking corps, it might come from Williamson, who will take over the middle spot being vacated by Ronnie Sneed, who had 71 tackles last season. Williamson had 49 tackles of his own, even though Sneed started every game at middle linebacker. If the Wildcats defense is going to keep the team in games, they need Williamson to play well.