Cox says Cats ‘flying under the radar’

Published 9:54 am Friday, July 28, 2023


Kentucky Today

The Western Division of the Southeastern Conference has received the most attention, but the recent emergence of Georgia as a national power has created balance between both divisions.

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“Georgia has become a very good football program that’s consistently in the top five, winning national championships,” Kentucky senior center Eli Cox said. “Tennessee has obviously got a great football program. Florida, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, they’re all good football teams. It’s a deep field of competition.”

As for the Wildcats, Cox believes they are close to competing for a title. Just last week, Kentucky was picked to finish fourth in the division.

“I think this football team has a lot of talent that’s flying under the radar,” Cox said. “I think we have a lot of tools. Our defense, everyone knows how consistent they are. Coach (Brad) White is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, the SEC. That unit always produces. I think our offense is going to hold up its end of the bargain this year and score a lot of points.”

The Wildcats will play the Bulldogs in Athens this season on Oct. 7, Kentucky’s home encounters include Florida (Sept. 30), Tennessee (Oct. 28) and Alabama on Nov. 11. Kentucky hasn’t played the Crimson Tide at Kroger Field since 2013.

“It’s exciting to have really good football teams come to town,” Cox said. “Any advantage you can get in those big games is great. Just having our fans be there supporting us is going to be awesome. Feeding off their energy, playing an exciting football game.”

Under center, Cox will be the glue to the Kentucky’s offense under Liam Coen, who is in his second stint as the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator. Cox is looking forward to taking snaps for transfer and veteran quarterback Devin Leary. Cox has been impressed with the confidence Leary has displayed already.

“He’s a very even-keeled player,” Cox said. “He doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. He’s a very composed player in the pocket and in the huddle.”

Kentucky hasn’t had a new starter at quarterback in two years. Will Levis has held the job for the past two seasons and is beginning his professional career with Tennessee Titans. Cox expects the transition from Levis to Leary to be an easy one.

“Having Will and Devin, they’re extremely talented quarterbacks,” Cox said. “Devin is talented in his own way with his accuracy, his touch, his composure. He’s a really talented football player. I think he’s just really self-aware of his leadership role that he has to have as a quarterback. I’m excited to have him in. He’s fit in really well with the guys.”

The veteran offensive lineman said the team’s main goal is to be a “consistently dominant football team.”

“Week in, week out, playing in the SEC, each game is tough,” he said. “There’s a lot of good football players. We have to be a consistent football team that looks to win every single game we play.”