What You Need To Know About The Kentucky Defense
– The defense wasn’t a rock, but it wasn’t bad. Now it should be far better – at least if experience counts for anything – with ten starters back including nine of the top ten and 15 of the top 17 back.
Now all of the veterans have to rise up and be better late in games after being outscored 106-73 in fourth quarters. The D allowed 42 points or more in three of the last five regular season games, and lost them all.
– The pass rush was okay, but it has the pieces to be a lot better. Denzil Ware and Josh Allen have been the main playmakers in the backfield over the last two seasons – the pressure improved after 2016 – with the D coming up with 30 sacks on the season. However, Ware transferred to Jacksonville State, and now, even more than last year, getting behind the line on a regular basis will be a problem. The Cats were second-to-last in the SEC in tackles for loss.
– Can the secondary start to make more big plays? The second-worst pass defense in the SEC was a lock to give up 200 yards or more in every game, and in the ones it didn’t, it was because Mississippi State and Georgia was too busy running wild.
Safety Mike Edwards is the team’s leading returning tackler, and running mate Darius West can hit, too. The corner tandem of Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson can tackle, but they need to come up with more big things when the ball is in the air. Again, if the pass rush is fine, almost everything else will improve.
Biggest Key To The Kentucky Defense
Of course turnovers matter for everyone, but for the Kentucky defense, they meant too much. The D was fantastic at taking the ball away over the first half of the season, forcing 13 turnovers in the first five games – UK went 4-1, and should’ve beaten Florida. Over the remaining eight games, the defense generated five takeaways, and four of them came in the win over Vanderbilt.
The Cats failed to come up with a turnover in five of the last seven games, and picked off a pass against Georgia in one of those other ones. That’s it.