BRYAN - The Kentucky Wildcats were the surprise team from the conference last year after posting just their 3rd 10-win season in program history.
The Wildcats are coming off a New Years Six Bowl Game win over Penn State, but plenty of people still doubt Kentucky can replicate their 2018 campaign.
"I just really want people to watch Kentucky Football this year and to just stop overlooking us. And realize that, hey, we mean business, and we're going to come to play every Saturday," said offensive lineman Logan Stenberg.
"If our players want to use outside motivation such as that, that's fine, but it hasn't made a difference the past three years for us, in what people predicted us and what we thought we were going to do," said Head Coach Mark Stoops.
The Wildcats have plenty of big shoes to fill in 2019. They'll be without last year's National Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Allen, after he was drafted number 7 overall by Jacksonville.
"You can't replace Josh. Because Josh is Josh. You're not going to find too many 6"6" 261 defensive ends out there that look like superman," exclaimed linebacker Kash Daniel.
Kentucky will need to replace another NFL draft pick, running back Benny Snell, who was the second-leading rusher in the SEC last year only to Aggie Traveyon Williams.
"Losing Benny... Benny was a good player. Some of the running backs that we have this year coming up are going to be just as good as him," remarked wide receiver Lynn Bowden.
"Benny is a hard guy to replace. One of the biggest compliments you could give Benny is his determination and his heart and the passion that he had. We have to make sure some other people, offensively, can pick that up," Stoops said.
"At running back, we have three guys coming in to really replace Benny. We have Kavosiey, Chris, and A.J. all coming in. All great runners. All a little different, but I think we're going to see all three of them play significant time this year," Stenberg encouraged.
While the Wildcats have some big-name players to replace, Head Coach Mark Stoops says consistency with the coaching staff can only help.
"We're excited about the continuity. Our staff comes back intact on the offensive side of the ball. We just talked about John Summeral coming in and Brad White on defense, being elevated to the defensive coordinator. So we have one change, and offensively, we come back intact," recalled Stoops.
Kentucky opens their 2019 campaign August 31st hosting the University of Toledo.
2019 Kentucky Schedule:
Sat. Aug. 31 Toledo
Sat. Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan
Sat. Sept. 14 Florida
Sat. Sept. 21 at Mississippi State
Sat. Sept. 28 at South Carolina
Sat. Oct. 5 Bye
Sat. Oct. 12 Arkansas
Sat. Oct. 19 at Georgia
Sat. Oct. 26 Missouri
Sat. Nov. 2 Bye
Sat. Nov. 9 Tennessee
Sat. Nov. 16 at Vanderbilt
Sat. Nov. 23 UT Martin
Sat. Nov. 30 Louisville