I’m almost certain at this point that you’re sick and tired of hearing about Kentucky’s defensive performance against Louisville on Sunday afternoon. But, to make sure there’s absolutely no molecule of life remaining in that dead horse, we’ll beat that subject just a bit further. The good folks over at CFBStats.com have scanned through data of the 117 FBS teams that played this weekend and have listed their findings on just about every stat imaginable. Since Kentucky’s youthful defense struggled this weekend, I thought it’d be interesting to investigate some key defensive stats, to determine areas of weakness and strength. The below chart contains some of the glaring weaknesses and unknown strengths of Kentucky’s defense, it also contains their FBS rank and compares them to the FBS average in those respective categories.
First, it should be noted that after only one game a true representation of a team will likely not show, but I’m going to use these numbers anyway so deal with it. Second, the most glaring weaknesses come in the passing game as Kentucky is near the bottom in almost every important defensive statistic, most notably completion percentage. The scariest thing about that inflated percentage is how wide open most of Louisville’s wide receivers were. This may be surprising (it’s not), but when receivers are wide open they typically gain tons of yards, which is why our passing yards per attempt number is so inflated. As for Interception Percentage, it’s hard to make any real judgment when Louisville only threw 26 total passes, that number will increase as the season moves forward, but after seeing film of Sunday’s game it’s cause for concern given just how far away our secondary was away from their receivers.
The rush defense was better than its passing counterpart, but it too was far from serviceable. Louisville was able to gash Kentucky’s Defensive Line and Linebackers for 4.76 yards per carry, which was good for 82nd nationally. Even more alarming is the fact that the Wildcat defense surrendered 7 carries which went for 10 yards or more. That must be corrected quickly for there to be any chance of competitiveness on the field. The one silver-lining in the defensive effort was the fact that we were able to force three fumbles. In terms of per game averages, that’s good for third nationally, even when computed into an average (6.5%) it’s still very good compared to the national average.
Overall, there’s very few things one could look at defensively that could give confidence about anything moving forward. Perhaps we can take comfort in knowing that a youthful defense will get better as they mature, but maturation will have to come against teams much better than Louisville, so it begs a very important question. If the defense doesn’t improve just how many games can Kentucky end up winning this season?