4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE KENTUCKY DEFENSE
– Seven starters and four of the top five tacklers are done from a defense that allowed 338 yards and just 16.8 points per game. There wasn’t anything flashy, but the pass rush was terrific, the secondary tight, and Josh Allen was the best defensive player in college football – or close to it. Now it’s up to new defensive coordinator Brad White to keep it all going with a whole new group of starters moving in.
– Allen is gone from the hybrid edge rusher position, and now it’ll be up to junior Boogie Watson and sophomores Alex King and Jordan Wright to try filling in the gap. None of them are Allen, but Watson is the team’s leading returning pass rusher, and end TJ Carter is a big 289-pound veteran on the end. 6-4, 361-pound junior Quinton Bohanna is a massive body to clog things up on the inside.
– Watson is a true outside linebacker who’ll get a look to replace Allen, and the inside is set with 221-pound senior Kash Daniel slimming down a bit and returning as the leading tackler coming up with 84 stops. He’s the veteran leader, and sophomore Chris Oats appears to be the next star of the linebacking corps coming off a 27-stop first season.
– The secondary only came up with eight picks – the D made nine in all – and now all four starters have to be replaced. The safeties, though, should be fine with 6-2, 200-pound junior Davonte Robinson adding more size than Mike Edwards. Robinson is the next star of the secondary, and junior Jordan Griffin should be one of the team’s top five tacklers a one of the other spots.
The corners are more of a question mark, needing JUCO transfer Brandin Echols to rise up and rock right away, and with a fight throughout fall camp for the other gig.