Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Week in the Dawg House: Kentucky Defense

This week the Dawg Train rolls up to Lexington to take on the Wildcats. While the Wildcats offense is one of the best in the SEC, their defense leaves a bit to be desired, especially in the rushing department. The Wildcats rank just ahead of Vandy at 11th in the conference, allowing 176 yards per game rushing. Passing defense is also just ahead of the 'Dores at about 186 ypg- good for 6th in the conference. Pass efficiency defense is a touch worse, where the Cats rank 7th in the conference with a 125.68 rating. Kentucky allows 362 ypg total offense, which ranks them 8th in the SEC in total defense. Now that you've official gotten tired of ranks and numbers, here are a couple more with position previews just to ice the cake.

Defensive Line:
The Wildcats run a standard 4-3 scheme with two ends and two defensive tackles. This is a very verteran unit, as they return about 39 starts on the two-deep. If you know anything about this unit, you know about their leader DE #94 Taylor Windham. His best-known abilities are channeling Satan into his shoulder pads, destroying "Shake Weights" by staring at them, collapsing opposing OT's into black holes, and in the words of Phil Steele, "KO'ing Tebow". If you've ever read a Phil Steele publication you know of his excessive use of abbreviations. In this years, "College Football 2010" season preview, Windham's line reads:
  • 6'4 238  PS#214. 7 starts, 28tkl, 2sk, 4.5 tfl as a rFr, KO'd Tebow, 2nd Tm Fr AA
Can't leave that important stat out. Anyway, the other starters are DE #96 Collins Ukwu, DT #53 Ricky Lumpkin, and DT #98 Mark Crawford. Providing depth are DE #51 Tristian Johnson, DE #55 DeQuin Evans, DT #92 Shane McCord, and DT #68 Luke McDermott. McCord and Evans were projected to start this season but were overtaken by great performances from Ukwu and Crawford in the preseason. 

***Just in case you haven't seen to KO video, here it is. Must see TV.

This is a very veteran group who is mightily underachieving thus far. Honestly, UK should be very good against the run but have been wildly ineffective. I hope that they don't catch stride this week. They rank in the bottom third of the conference in both sacks and tackles for loss. Because of their penchant for playing below their ability, they don't grade out well here.


This is probably where the Cats hurt the most. They had to replace 2nd Team SEC players Micah Johnson and Sam Maxwell. Returning to replace some of the lost mojo is #22 OLB Danny Trevathan. He was the 2nd leading tackler on this defense last year and has been a terror this year, where he is leading the SEC with 70 tackles and also has 9 tackles for loss. It's hard to say much about the rest of this bunch because they only return 36 total tackles between all of them. Starting alongside of Trevathan are LB #57 Jacob Dufrene and LB #46 Ronnie Sneed. The Cats are also very high on freshman LB #2 Qua Huzzie. The second-team unit is filled with "Name of the Year" candidates in LB's #39 Jewell Ratliff and #48 Ridge Wilson. 

The only real notable player in the linebacking corps is Trevathan. They don't have a great deal of depth or experience at this spot and it should be exploited by our TE's. Beside Trevathan, they have no other backer in the top-45 in tackles. This unit looks very comparable to Tennessee's to me- one experienced starter and a lot of question marks. 

GRADE: C- (Would be a D- without Trevathan)

Defensive Backs:
Kentucky has had a run of bad luck here. They lost 2nd Team All SEC CB Trevard Lindley to the NFL and also lost their next most experienced corner Paul Warford, who had chronic academic troubles, this summer. Replacing Warford is CB #15 Martavious Neolms. On the other side is CB #24 Randall Burden. Both of these guys are over six feet tall and look to be very good at the halfway point of the season. It seems by the amount of tackles that each have that UK tends to run a lot more zone coverage than man, as their safeties account for pretty much all of the tackling in the secondary. Providing depth are #35 Carter Rice and #14 Anthony Mosley.

As far as the safeties go, Kentucky looks like they have two pretty good ones in #21 Winston Guy and #41 Mychal Bailey. Guy started 11 games last season and had 30 tackles and 5 pass break ups. Bailey is transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College and, supposedly, is a ballhawk with 4.3 speed.  Backups are #6 Taiedo Smith and #28 Dakotah Tyler.

This group looks to be very comparable to last year's which featured CB Trevard Lindley, SS Calvin Harrison, and CB Paul Warford. This is where the UK coaching staff seems to shine and make lemonade out of lemons. I think they've done it again this year with a lot of inexperienced players. It's no coincidence that the Cats pass defense is ranked that high considering the players they have and what little pressure the defensive line has put on opposing quarterbacks.


#9 Ryan Tydlacka does the punting for Kentucky. He is third in the conference with an average of just over 45 yards per kick. Just a touch better than Drew Butler at #4 in the SEC.

Grade: PASS

Starting Lineup:

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