(video courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)
The SEC RapidReports blog is taking a look at what went wrong at the five SEC schools that didn't make a bowl -- Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.
Kentucky (2-10, 0-8 SEC)
Expectations: They were low coming into the season for Kentucky. The general thought was that the Wildcats could beat Western Kentucky, Kent State, Samford and perhaps pull one or two upsets in the SEC. They were picked to finish last in the SEC East by almost every major publication.
What went wrong: The Wildcats weren't expected to do much, but injuries are part of the story of why they didn't even reach their low expectations. That starts with QB Maxwell Smith, who put up big numbers at the beginning of the season, but had to be shelved for the season with an ankle injury in early October. A carousel of backups including Morgan Newton, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles all took snaps after Smith went down. Though Whitlow showed the most promise, the Wildcats never found a complete rhythm with any of them. RBs CoShik Williams (hip) and Josh Clemons (knee) along with CB Marcus Caffey (academics) were among the many players who missed time for the Wildcats. It's hard to find one statistical category to pinpoint as the main reason for their struggles on the field. They were near the bottom of the league in every major category.
When it went wrong: A 32-31 overtime loss to Western Kentucky on Sept. 15 was a sign of the trouble that Kentucky was in. That was the start of an eight-game losing streak that didn't end until the Wildcats knocked off Samford, an FCS team, on Nov. 17.
Biggest overall disappointment: The injuries to Smith and Williams were disappointing, but somewhat out of the control of Kentucky. Even without those players, the overall performance of the offense was frustrating. It finished last in the SEC in scoring (17.9 points/game) and second to last in total yardage (315 yards/game). The Wildcats had particularly disappointing performances against Arkansas, losing 49-7, and Vanderbilt, losing 40-0.
Bright spots: LB Avery Williamson finished second in the SEC with 135 total tackles. Smith showed signs of progress early in the season. He lit up Kent State in in a 47-14 win in Week 2 with 354 passing yards and four TDs. G Larry Warford and C Matt Smith made up a solid interior line. The Wildcats didn't get the win, but they played Georgia close in a 29-24 loss to the Bulldogs.
2013 outlook: The Wildcats will get a new start with coach Mark Stoops, who comes from Kentucky after serving as the defensive coordinator at Florida State. He'll look to improve the defense and he brought in Neal Brown, a former Kentucky wide receiver who last was the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, to run the offense. Smith will be back from injury and he will compete with Towles and Whitlow to regain his starting role. The Wildcats will lose 17 seniors, including Warford, Smith, Williams, WR La'Rod King and DE Collins Ukwu. There's a lot of rebuilding to do, but there's at least hope for a return to the postseason in the not-too-distant future with a new regime in charge.
For more up-to-the minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Larry Hartstein and Daniel Lewis, follow @CBSSportsSEC.