NCAA FOOTBALL | Plenty of Excitement for This Fall

04/29/2017 11:25 PM

The last few weeks, college football fans have been spoiled, as spring games have taken place across the country.

The same can be said here in the Bluegrass.

Louisville, UK, WKU and EKU all held their respective spring games within the last 15 days.

Today, there was no major spring game in the Commonwealth, which got me thinking about the upcoming season.

I truly believe that each of those four programs’ fan bases have a lot to look forward to come the fall.

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

First of all, how can UofL fans NOT be excited for the upcoming 2017 season?

The main reason there is a lot to be excited about is because quarterback Lamar Jackson is back on the field. Sure, it will be difficult for him to have another season statistically like he had last year, but he is still a difference maker.

Some things that should make Jackson looking forward to the season are his receivers and his offensive line.

As for his receivers, yes, he lost a lot of talent in guys like Jamari Staples and James Quick. But, look at the connection he had with Dez Fitzpatrick at the spring game. We may see a lot more success between those two this fall.

As for the offensive line, it HAS to have improved since last season. (It can not have gotten worse.)

One other reason why Cardinals’ fans must be pumped for the fall… The team’s schedule. It’s a favorable one, especially since Clemson has to come to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

If UofL wins throughout the front half of its schedule, then Saturday, October 21 at Florida St. may be the most important game in Louisville football history. Assuming both teams are undefeated heading into that game, a trip to the ACC Championship, and thus a spot in the College Football Playoff may be at stake that day.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Big Blue Nation had a lot to celebrate in 2016, mainly because it was the team’s first bowl game appearance since the 2010 season.

You have to assume that making that bowl game has helped build momentum heading into this upcoming season.

The key thing that UK fans have to look forward to is the development of quarterback Stephen Johnson. Johnson was extremely inexperienced when he came into the fold last year, but look what he did near the end of the season, especially against UofL.

You would think that he has learned a lot during the offseason, especially since he is clearly “QB 1” heading into the fall.

Another key area why fans should be excited is because the schedule, like UofL’s, is not too shabby.

The problem for UK is that the schedule gets harder the later in the season, so the Wildcats cannot afford to lose games early on that they should win.

WKU HILLTOPPERS

This season is a season of change for the Toppers as they have a new head coach in Mike Sanford.

WKU found so much success under Jeff Brohm, but don’t expect that success to go away.

Sanford has an offensive mindset and I expect the team to continue scoring points like it did under Brohm.

The big reason I believe this is because quarterback Mike White is back. White threw for over 4,300 yards last season and tossed 37 touchdowns. I mean, that’s crazy right? The guy is an incredible quarterback!

Sanford’s mindset is great for the Toppers because he appreciates what came before him AND he has set the bar high.

The fact that he says one of his goals is to win a New Year’s Six Bowl Game should continue to drive the Toppers as the season takes place.

EASTERN KENTUCKY COLONELS

Finally, we have reached the EKU Colonels, a team that had very positive glimpses last year.

The biggest challenge for Eastern will be to survive and learn from the first two games of the season, when it faces WKU and UK.

If the Colonels learn from playing those two difficult FBS opponents, they will be fine heading down the stretch.

Last year, EKU only went 3-8, but it was head coach Mark Elder’s first year at the helm.

The players have now gotten a year to adjust to life under Elder. Plus, Elder brought in a solid recruiting class.

This team could very well be a huge surprise in the OVC.

Andrew Chernoff

Andrew is a sports anchor and sports managing editor for Spectrum News. He covers sports all across the state of Kentucky for Sports Night, which airs weeknights at 6:30 and 10:30 on Spectrum News and anytime with Spectrum On Demand. Andrew was a sports anchor and reporter at KFDM/KBTV in Beaumont, Texas for four years before making the move back home to the Midwest. He is originally from Carmel, Indiana and majored in broadcast journalism and political science at Syracuse University.

When he’s not on the air or in the field covering sports, you can likely find Andrew playing golf, watching IndyCar and Formula 1 races, or exploring the state of Kentucky. His favorite sport is open-wheel racing. In fact, he has not missed an Indianapolis 500 since the early 2000s.

Whether he is working sporting events or not, he always loves talking sports. He is a prolific tweeter, so if you want to stay “in the know” about sports in the Bluegrass, follow Andrew on Twitter @ADChernoff. If you have a story idea for our sports team, send it to Andrew at Andrew.Chernoff@charter.com.

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