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What to expect from a Stoops-led Defense

When it became obvious that Kentucky would be in the market for a head football coach at season’s end, most thought that AD Mitch Barnhart’s search would be tailored around offensive-minded guys. And, for the most part, it was. LA Tech’s Sonny Dykes, Duke’s David Cutcliffe, and Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter were all rumored to be involved for the position when it became available. The reason was simple: Kentucky is so bad defensively, its best bet is to try and outscore people. To some extent, this is true. The bulk of Kentucky’s talent for next year can be found on the offensive side of the football, but that doesn’t mean that the defense can’t be really good. When Kentucky hired Stoops it assured it’s defense would be a priority for the future. In Stoops, Kentucky has brought in one of the best, young defensive minds in college football to head its program. The Wildcats will now switch back to a 4-3 scheme after a failed two-year experiment with a 3-4 scheme. In many aspects the 4-3 is a better fit for winning college football games than the 3-4 and Mark Stoops is one of the best guys in the country at running it. Here is what we can expect from our defense next year with Stoops calling it:

A much, much better pass rush. Florida State has the most feared pass rush in the nation. DE Bjoern Werner was just named ACC defensive player of the year under Stoops’ tutelage. He current leads the nation in sacks with 13 and 18 TFLs. Not far behind Werner is his defensive end counterpart, Cornellius Carradine. Carradine has tallied 11 sacks so far this season and 13 TFLs. Their production would lead you to believe they are five-star recruits… but, nope. Werner was a three-star DT prospect coming out of high school, according to Rivals, and Carradine was a four-star. Stoops not great recruiter, he brings the best out of players as well.

More confident Kentucky players: With a 4-3 scheme, play calls will be more simplistic. There were far too many blown coverages and missed assignments by Kentucky players the last couple of years and that can be contributed to having too much football to digest. Kentucky had to play a lot of freshmen and some of them struggled with learning the scheme. If it was a simpler scheme they might have had an opportunity to be more successful.

Better talent: Stoops is an Ohio native, a state that Kentucky is closer to than any of its SEC foes. If Kentucky can corner that market and do well in the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama there will be much more talent  in Lexington than we’ve ever seen.


It’s rare that a school can be competitive in almost every sport that it plays, but Kentucky is on track to do so. With the hire of Stoops and the football upgrades that are on the horizon, Kentucky is working hard to change the perception that it is just a  “basketball school”.

Article written by Rashawn Franklin

66 Comments for What to expect from a Stoops-led Defense

  1. DirtyDave
    8:05 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post!!

  2. Claw
    8:05 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Am a basketball guy but have a moderate interest in the football team. This has all been interesting lately but must confess I must not know squat. What is the difference between a four three and a three four?

  3. SCB
    8:08 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post, I have been waiting for something like this to explain to me the ins and outs of his defenses. All I’ve heard so far is that his defenses are great, but I wanted to know a little more about them. So going back to a 4-3, probably a good thing. And that’s always one of the best ways for an underdog team to beat a powerhouse is to rush the passer so much it throws the opposing offense off. If we can do that well, we can probably win a few games we shouldn’t. IMO

  4. BigBlueBallz
    8:11 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t think people realize the magnitude of Stoops coming to Lex. People all over the country are praising this hire. They may not understand why he is coming but they are praising us for hiring him. It will take some time and I think a 2-3 win turnaround next season would be extremely encouraging.

  5. tdogg40330
    8:11 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    2) 4-3 defense = 4 down lineman and 3 linebackers …. 3-4 defense = 3 down lineman and 4 linebackers

  6. BigBlueBallz
    8:12 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Anybody watch PTI today? Tony referred to the ACC as a conference that was “dying”. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Big 12, Big 10, and SEC pull a few schools outta there.

  7. thats budda
    8:16 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    A much better pash rush would have two or three good defensive ends. Do we have that? Dupree will have his hand down again and needs to show the potential that we hear about. Who else?

  8. dave
    8:16 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    good post, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. we’re not going to “corner the market” for ohio recruits. urban meyer is at tOSU, PSU is probably back and UM is still good.
    and doing well recruiting in FL GA & AL is no easy task.
    we’ll see

  9. Claw
    8:16 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks tdogg. Have no idea what any of that means though. I better stick to basketball. I do know what a punt is. Seen a lot of those this season. lol

  10. tdogg40330
    8:23 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    9) no problem, I tried to help ya man …lol

    they’re not defensive players, but whats the chances Stoops talks Timmons and Quick to stay
    home and play for UK?? both are dynamic athletes and are being recruited by the big boys.

  11. Joe
    8:28 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink


    Read it today, fairly clear for us football illiterates.

    I blame Minter, bearing in mind I’m an illiterate. We adopted a 3-4 Defense which, apparently, requires an amazing Nose Tackle, which, apparently, we didn’t have….

    You recruit towards a 3-4, if you want, but you play with the talent you have…and if we didn’t have the talent for a 3-4 it was foolish to stick with it.

    Not every Calipari team is “dribble-drive” some teams are better at a different scheme. But Minter/Joker seemed determined to hammer our square peg (4-3 talent) into a 3-4 Round Hole…

    One more reason the current crop had to go.

  12. Tater
    8:29 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Wish Stoops would dress out UK team in unis that look like football unis such as Alabama, Tennessee, Southern Cal, Florida State etc. Those Micky Mouse unis that we’ve been wearing are a joke… look like PeeWee League stuff. Look like a football team and you just may play like one too.

  13. TampaCat
    8:30 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    10. T-dogg, Everyone needs to let the coach know just how close Timmons and Quick are to UK! We need these two on board….

  14. Hawkeye Tim
    8:30 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    He’s a former Iowa Hawkeye. He will represent us well. If we can’t win with him, UK Football is doomed.

  15. Rumor
    8:33 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Folks at Trinity are saying the cards move to the ACC basically locks up quick for them. also, They feel hatcher may end up there as well.

  16. HAHA!!
    8:34 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    @kysportsradio- A Birmingham newspaper is reporting that Auburn has interveiwed Louisville Coach Charlie Strong for its head coaching position.

  17. Bowel Movement
    8:35 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    with the earth shaking news that uofl is going to the acc, You Stools hire story got flushed.

  18. Claw, Google “3-4 defense”, “4-3 defense” and “3-4 4-3 defense difference” and you can find out more. I am no expert, but here is what I understand: in the 3-4 defense, there is a lot of blitzing (rushing the passer) by the linebackers, so a lot of emphasis on getting pressure on the QB. In the 4-3 there is more emphasis on stopping the run, hence more guys lining up at the line of scrimmage.

    Rashawn is correct in that the 3-4 blitzing schemes are complex, but I disagree that it’s too complex for college players. There have been numerous college teams that have used it successfully, not the least of which is Alabama.

  19. Well, some beat me to it, but hope I helped a little!

  20. Duh!
    8:42 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah 17 the sports world is shocked that the ACC lowered it’s academic standards enough to let the dumb birds in. Of course they’re going to talk about it. They talked about us enough yesterday.

  21. luke
    8:43 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Is Josh Forrest on the basketball team now??? Please comfirm

  22. rainman
    8:48 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Actually not a better pass rush,
    just a pss rush period! We didn’t
    have one before!

  23. Urban Meyer
    8:54 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Did he really write about cornering the market in Ohio recruits? I think delusions of grandeur are healthy, but you need to be realistic too. Would a 5* recruit rather play in front of 105,000 fans and on primetime network TV, or in front of 60,000 fans on regional network TV? Stoops is a good hire, but UK has a long way to go still.

  24. Funky Monkey
    8:55 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Charlie Strong has already interviewed for the Auburn job. News just hit.

  25. Catlogic15
    8:56 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t get how this site comes up with phrases like “most feared pass rush in the nation”.

    If you take out Florida and Clemson, maybe sorta kinda.

  26. Funky Monkey
    8:57 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Just click on my name for the article if you want to see it.

  27. UK Freshmen
    8:57 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Lets get real. He’s just a coach. He needs players. We won’t get players.

  28. Yeah 17. Meanwhile your coach is trying to leave:

  29. Denny Crum's Lettuce
    9:01 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Y’all remember 1986? Man that was a great year…..

  30. MHFaulkner
    9:03 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Major differences in the 3-4 and the 4-3 can be found in two areas: Nose guard and your outside tackle techniques.

    For a 3-4, you have to have a bull of a nose guard that can control the center and whatever gap he is shaded towards. Some of the best of the best nose tackles have been able to completely demand the attention of center guard combo (doing so allows the MLB to have free reigh to spy or head hunt). Casey Hampton from Pittsburgh, when healthy, is a great example.

    The other is the outside backers that will walk up and play a standing D End in the old 5-2 sense. They will speed rush on the end, drop to the curl/flat, or sometimes play the TE. This is very popular in the NFL because of the freak athletes you see being able to do this. Your 6’4” 230-255 guys that are posting 4.5 40s are the ones that fit the bill.

    Your 4-3 is two D tackles that play at the center/guard level and two other down linemen lining up at the guard/tackle tackle/TE gaps. This D runs much more through the MLB. These linemen again absorb as many blocks as possible and allow the MLB to roam. The other two backs serve somewhat like those OLBs in a 3-4, but moreso in a coverage ability – and will blitz with a “SAM” (Strong side Backer – side with the most strength – be it tight end or unbalanced line), or a “Will” (weak side) blitz.

    In my opinion, if you have the athletes to run a 3-4, that’s what you run. But, if you don’t, and you still try to run it, you get absolutely destroyed by the run.

  31. Chas
    9:10 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    30. Good post. And we did get destroyed by the run…

  32. Bradley
    9:11 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Auburn won’t offer Strong. He’s one of the worst interviewers in the history of mankind. Lets just be nice and say he blatantly “stretches” the truth. Throw in the fact his sentences are an incoherent, bumbling mess and he has no shot.

  33. Vegas
    9:12 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Vegas investigation has found that Johnny Short has been point shaving by 5 bigens per game.

  34. UKjerky
    9:22 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    12. Tater go back in your hovel, and put on your leather helmet.

  35. Yoda
    9:28 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    I am gonna be your Debbie Downer, but I just don’t like this hire. I think we are drinkin’ the old Kool-Aid a little too eagerly if we assume that Stoops will get FSU level talent in at UK, because he won’t. Say what you will about the ACC, but FSU is still a top-tier football program and it wasn’t hard to get legit Florida-based players to commit there. Kentucky MIGHT scrape out a 4 star here and there, but nothing that is going to make our front 4 legit. His OC hire better be a GRAND FRIGGIN SALAMI or we’re screwed. The only way UK will ever compete consistently is by scoring a LOT of points, and Stoops ain’t the man to do it. Blast Away.

  36. BleedRed
    9:35 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    So does this mean you won’t be scared to play us the first game of the season anymore?

  37. Tbradg
    9:40 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Another difference many fans will notice is Stoops’ use of zone coverages…apparently he goes zone 99% of the time whereas in past years we play a LOt of man.

  38. Yoda
    9:42 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    To further illustrate my point in #35:

    FSU is to ACC football as UK is to SEC basketball; Both dominate and capable of competing for a National Title each year. The roles just won’t flip people. Wait and see. He may get us to a few toilet bowl games in Nashville, but we won’t be competing for the SEC East title. Write that down.

  39. Tbradg
    9:57 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    38. Yoda…right you may be…but forget the secret to happy fans you do.

    A toilet bowl year in and year out (a la Brooks) gets the stadium named after you at UK…and mix in a high profile upset every once in a while, a top 25 ranking, etc. and Stoops can run for Governor if he wants.

  40. Mr. Obvious
    10:04 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Going to a bowl game at 6-6 or 7-5 doesn’t sound that bad right now to me. WE WERE 2-10! I at least will have a lot more fun during football season being competitive. #38 – Some people state the obvious and think they are really on to something! C’mon man! Tell us something we don’t know.

  41. GoCards
    10:07 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    You hillbillies just hired Kragthorpe’s ugly brother. congrats!!!

  42. TheProfessor
    10:14 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    ATTRIBUTED not contributed…dumbass

  43. J A Brooks
    10:20 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Yoda we would be thrilled with 8-5 and 9-4 seasons… no coach that would ever come here would be able to get us competing for BCS bowls

  44. So/so hire
    10:27 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    27 is 100% correct. Everybody needs to calm their expectations a little. Stoops can’t work miracles it will take time to get the players to play his system. We have a team full of MAC players trying to play in the SEC. Saban couldn’t come in and fix this overnight. If you think anyone can do what Cal did to the BB your going to have hurt feelings. Joker tanked our program it’s going to take at least 3 years to really judge this staff. I hope the fans will be open minded and realistic and not judge SToops to early.
    I hope Stoops is the real deal he Definatly has the pedigree to be good, but don’t let the sunshine pumpers full everyone in to thinking this is a home run or sure thing. It’s more like a line drive still in the air. It could go either way.

  45. So/so hire
    10:30 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    #41 way to be original. You do realize that people across the country include you as a hillbilly when you say your from Kentucky. They don’t just say that about certain kentuckyians they say it about us all. Lol

  46. Yeah 41. Meanwhile your coach is trying to leave:

  47. 36,I never did like UK officials moving that game. It should always be the first game, or the last if we wanted to do it like most other big rival games.

  48. Mr. Obvious
    10:42 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Hillbilly is not offensive to me, it’s actually a compliment! Thank you greasy bird.

  49. Denny Crums Lettuce
    10:51 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Anyone else here think that Louisville getting invited to the ACC is kind of like the redneck getting invited to the rich peoples house for dinner? Like everytime you excuse yourself from the dinner table to use the rest room theyre going to make fun of you?
    PS, anyone got any Depends coupons? I’ll trade you a crappie i just caught out of the Ohio?

  50. Sam
    11:00 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    49…how dare you try to start class warfare here on this board…im so sick you you and your right wing propoganda…every post i read from you, you try to sterotype and divide the good people all across this state…take your devisive rhetoric and get out of here…damn you

  51. Mr. Obvious
    11:02 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    The ACC is desperate. In 5 years there will be no good teams left. There will be 4 conferences that matter – SEC, Big 12 , Big 10 & Pac 12.

  52. jaws2
    11:06 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Folks it’s not X’s & O’s it’s Jimmy’s & Joe’s. If we can’t get SEC caliber defensive linemen, we’ll never compete with the top 3 in or division. I hold my enthusiasm until I’m shown that can happen.

  53. Mr. Obvious
    11:09 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    51…wow! I was just responding to 41. Bad Day? I was just discussing UK football until greasy bird crashed the party!

  54. Denny Crums Lettuce
    11:14 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    50 …. so you’re saying that you do have depends for trade? Im confused?

  55. Animaluk86
    11:36 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    Stoops sounds like a good hire just depends on who we get to run the offense. Mitch better spend that money for a OC!!!! GET IT DONE MITCH GO BIG BLUE

  56. BleedRed
    11:42 pm November 28, 2012 Permalink

    51. And UK will still be the bottom feeder and we will still be whooping that tale.

  57. Nuclear
    1:30 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    No more nuclear mentor? UL fans are about to get foot inserted in their mouths. The mo e to the ACC means no alcohol sales. Hmmmm. This means no more money to help bail out the ayum center which means, Freedom Hall baby

  58. Beavis
    6:23 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    So,,,,,after Pitino berates UConn,,,,Pittsburgh,,,and Syracuse for daring to leave the great Big East,,,,,Louisville petitions to join the ACC. You Card fans must be so proud of your great basketball coach. Petrino gets fired at Arkansas for having an affair and lying,,,,Petino lays some shank on a table top in a restaurant,,,,lies about it and keeps his job. You Louisville fans must be so proud. Now we find out your football coach is shopping himself around. LOL

  59. Lance A. Boil
    8:05 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    Wow! This entry is like when they say, “Just put the ball in the endzone.” The simple truth is that UK football just added another 6 or more years of being at the bottom of the SEC. Stop hiring “up-n-comers!” Build new SEC facilities! Then, UK will attract true talent (coaching and players).

  60. Beavis
    8:23 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    # 59, you might be right. However,,,,we have no where to go but up and this guy is not just another up and coming coach. As for the facilities,,,he did not agree to come here if there were not some big promises made to him on upgrading the facilities. I like the hire,,,,I could be wrong.

  61. tbradg
    9:31 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    In my lifetime as a Wildcat FB fan I have experienced 7 HFCs:

    – Claiborne: was too young to remember much, but I recall that he beat Wisconsin in the HoF Bowl
    – Curry: the Curry years were horribly painfull…remember them well. 5 offenses in 7 years, etc.
    – Mummeball: tons of fun for fans like me that like Offense…not many wins to show for all those yards and point…ended like a dumpster fire
    – Guy Mo: Personally I liked Guy Mo and will always remember those years fondly…botched decision though
    – Rich B: I went from naysayer to disciple. Still plan to name my next son Brooks God willing
    – Joker: I went from disciple to naysayer…proves that it takes a lot more than desire to win in the SEC.
    – and now the Stoops era begins: Never before have we made a focused decision to 1) Start with Defense, 2) Understand the Recruiting Base of the HC and 3) been approached by a candidate of this caliber about our opening. So, yah, I’m optimistic AND realistic and I think there’s plenty of reason to look forward to the next few Falls in the Bluegrass.

  62. Dennis Johnson
    9:58 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    I think Dupree will flourish given one position to focus on. I also think Davis and Huguenin will also be used a lot in this type of system. I’m looking forward to seeing Newton play in this type of system as well as Chapman and Gaffrey. Go Cats!!!

  63. FSU rules
    11:45 am November 29, 2012 Permalink

    Wish he bring those kick ass uni’s from FSU. Always thought they had by from the best uniforms in the NCAA.

  64. I don't get it
    12:09 pm November 29, 2012 Permalink

    Corner the market in Ohio? What? Did the Big Ten vacate Ohio when I was sleeping? Try more modest goals…like trying to get a foot in the door of the Cincy to Dayton corridor. UK will NOT have recruiting success in Central/Northern OH unless you consider picking up OSU/MICH/PSU leftovers as success. Also, doing well (by UK standards) in FL and GA may be realistic, but Alabama? Where did that come from? UK is going to go into Tide and Tiger territory and do well? Please.

  65. SmokinDave
    2:21 pm November 29, 2012 Permalink

    Realize all the talk is on D-but it sure would be nice to see an offensive philosophy that’s not too complicated for a freshman. I watched MO & UCLA start true freshmen this year, MO won and UCLA barely lost to the Irish-obviously THEIR offense wasn’t so complicated.

  66. hello
    12:23 pm December 1, 2012 Permalink

    UK will never corner Ohio’s market….how quickly you forget about Michigan and Ohio State