(via Bleacher Report)
I love YouTube. You can literally find everything you need if you search hard and long enough. During my extensive searches I found game film of last season’s Kentucky vs. Louisville match up — only showing Kentucky’s defense. Even though it’s weird that only the defense is shown and not the entire game, I am ecstatic to find it nonetheless. It gives me a chance to look for exactly what led to a Kentucky loss last year, how personnel changes could effect both teams, and how Rick Minter decided to attack Louisville’s offense. Don’t let Cardinal fans fool you into thinking their team was vastly superior in 2011. It was a close game in Commonwealth Stadium last year, and after re-watching the game, there were a lot of things that the Cats’ defense did well. What I saw showed a lot of hope for Sunday’s game. There are even some positions that I like on this year’s defense compared to last year’s, plus an additional year in a Minter’s scheme isn’t going to hurt either. Still, there were some things Kentucky’s defense just can’t allow this time around. So what exactly what went wrong, you ask?
–Cards ran rampant over Kentucky’s defense. The trio of Anderson, Brown, and Wright gashed the Cats on a ton of plays last year. Too many times both Winston Guy and Ridge Wilson were unable to set the edge on runs, allowing the Cardinals backs to get into open space. LB Bud Dupree said that he and LB/S Miles Simpson’s main objectives on run plays are not to get washed out of the play, something Minter has stressed in practice. The defensive line got pushed around a bit too, mostly in the interior. But, this year, the Cats are much better equipped to handle a constant running attack in the trenches. They are healthier, have a lot more depth, and are bigger at nose tackle.
–Splash plays. As Coach Phillips said earlier this week, there were about three or four plays that just completely demoralized Kentucky’s effort to win the game. Every touchdown thrown by Louisville was over 25 yards. Obviously, that cannot happen on Sunday if Kentucky expects to leave out of Papa John’s Stadium with a win. This is mostly going to fall on Minter’s play calling. He’s going to have to choose correctly what downs to gamble and when to be conservative. Louisville is going to test Kentucky’s corners from the beginning because of the perceived lack of talent there. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how Minter uses his defensive backs.
–No turnovers. There a lot of good things that go into the makeup of a good defense, but the ability to get the ball back to your offense is one of them. In last year’s game, Kentucky didn’t force a single turnover. In each of the Cats’ five wins last season, they forced at least one turnover. There is a 70% chance of rain for Sunday’s game, something that could help Kentucky in their quest to take the ball away from the Cardinals’ offense.
Sunday is rapidly approaching. It’ll be exciting to see these teams finally square off after such a long off-season of analyzing and trash talking. A win would open up all kinds of possibilities for Kentucky’s season. But most of all, it will push Kentucky closer to their dreams of going bowling again.