LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky has given up 89 points through two games.
That number is the most noticeable, but it’s just the surface. UK ranks as one of the nation’s worst defenses in a handful of categories.
We went behind the numbers and compared the group to the other 127 FBS defenses.
Plays against: 179
National rank: 125
A good defense is one that can get off the field. The Wildcats are one of the worst teams in the nation in this category. Only the defenses of Texas Tech, SMU and Hawaii have seen more plays run against them. UK’s defense severely lacks in depth and being on the field for this many plays only compounds that problem. To make matters worse, the offense is turning the ball over on short drives, forcing the defense back on the field.
What Mark Stoops is saying about it: “When we’ve played poor football, when the defense can’t get off the field and (offense is) creating turnovers, that’s a bad recipe. We’ve got to protect the football and be smart with what we’re doing.”
Passing yards allowed per game: 289
National rank: 106
The UK secondary was touted by all before the season as one of the biggest strengths of the team, offense or defense. Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens and Florida QB Luke Del Rio missed that message. The Wildcats defense has surrendered six passing touchdowns and nobody even expected Florida to try to pass.
What Stoops is saying about it: “There’s no getting around it. You better man up and win some one-on-ones. You’re not gonna win ’em all. You play very good players and they’re gonna win some, but we have to get our share, and right now we’re not getting our share.”
Rushing yards allowed per game: 253
National Rank: 118
Kentucky’s defense can’t contain the pass, but it’s even worse at stopping the run. The strength of the front seven was a question in fall camp, but it’s been answered in the first two games. Southern Miss ran at will and Florida did the same. Every opponent from now until the end of the year will follow unless something changes.
What Stoops is saying about it: “I don’t think there’s any question that we have to be stronger against the run. We have to be. Yeah, I agree with that. We need to get that fixed, and we need to look at some things, what we’re doing, making sure we can execute. I anticipate we will get better at that.”
Opponent third down conversion rate: 62 percent
National rank: 127
Only Arkansas State is worse in this category. Florida converted 14 of 20 third downs Saturday. UK couldn’t stop Southern Miss on third down and the problem only got worse in Gainesville. The Wildcats inefficiencies on third down are tied to each of the previous stats. If opponents can run and pass, converting on third downs won’t be a problem for them. And to the first stat, third down conversions mean more plays for the UK defense.
What Stoops is saying about it: “Third downs are a bear for a lot of people. They catch you with a screen, they get you off balance. You bring the pressure, they hit you with a screen. They did it to us again Saturday. They picked off our player that we had – we had two guys on the screen and they blocked ’em both and then squirted out on us, and then you play coverage and they make a good catch. There’s a lot of things. It’s about trying to get the other group off balance. And it does get frustrating, defensively, when you’re doing those things.”
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Source: SEC Country