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Postseason Roundtable: Will UK football sustain its momentum in 2019?

Boogie Watson chasing Trace McSorley (UK Athletics)
Boogie Watson chasing Trace McSorley (UK Athletics)

There have been a couple of way-too-early college football top 25 polls already circulating around the internet and, surprise of surprises, Kentucky's nowhere to be found.

But are pundits sleeping on Kentucky again?

Cats Illustrated staff members ask the question: To what extent will the Cats' sustain their momentum and success into the next fall campaign?

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: Make no mistake, Kentucky will be saying goodbye to a ton of talented players entering 2019. After losing arguably the best running back, best linebacker, and perhaps the best secondary in program history, it's difficult to imagine that the Wildcats will not take a step back next season. That being said, I don't think it will be as large a step back as perhaps some regional and national observers seem to think it will be. A lot of talent remains in the program, thanks to the staff's recruiting prowess. There are potential new stars waiting for their opportunities. That's how the best programs stay on top. Everybody loses players. There are no long-term deals or "franchise player" tags in college football. You have to reload and develop the next Benny Snell or Josh Allen.

Warren Taylor, Staff Writer: A program can't lose players like Josh Allen, Bunch Stallings, Benny Snell and its starting secondary without there being a drop-off. The good news for the Cats is that the drop off won't be in talent, it will be in experience. There will definitely be some growing pains next season as Kentucky breaks in new contributors and the heights of the 2018 season will be hard to reach. However, the coaching staff has done an excellent job of recruiting and developing players over the past half-decade or so, and if next year's team puts the work in like this year's did then seven or eight wins are possible next season.

Travis Graf, Special Contributor: I honestly don’t see any way Kentucky goes worse than 7-5 next season with the way the schedule is set up. 7-5 isn’t a sexy record, but it’s become the baseline for Kentucky football and can possibly rise higher than that with another successful season. Kentucky has SEC depth across the board for the most part and has been fortunate enough to be able to redshirt quality prospects that they’ve never had the luxury to do. Replacing the whole secondary, Josh Allen and Benny Snell isn’t an easy task, but I don’t think there’s a “significant” drop off.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: It's unlikely Kentucky will win 10 games, because not only did the Wildcats really benefit from some tremendous departing players but some things broke their way this year (which is not to say the record was inflated or fool's gold; just that they played very well in some games in particular). However, it is not outside the realm of possibility the Wildcats could win eight or nine, or even match this year's win total if everything goes right. The schedule is just very manageable. Kentucky should go 4-0 non-conference and they ought to be favorites against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. If they take care of business and Terry Wilson progresses, this team could once again surprise and land in a very solid bowl game.