After two weeks, the Kentucky football team had obvious strengths and glaring weaknesses, with each being reflected in the overall season stats up to that point. While the Wildcats had elite numbers on numerous fronts – rushing offense, passing efficiency, and punting, just to name a few – they also had their fair share of serious struggles – pass defense, pass rushing, and kicking – as well.
Against Mississippi State in Week 3, the script was flipped quite a bit, with UK’s defense putting forth a superstar performance across the board and the offense leaving much to be desired.
How do the Wildcats stack up with the rest of the college football world from a numbers standpoint? KSR has gathered all of the best and worst statistics in the three major categories: offense, defense and special teams.
Let’s take a look:
The Positives (Offense)
After sitting in the top five nationally in time of possession, rushing yards, and 3rd down conversions per game, the Wildcat offense took a tumble in most statistical categories after the Mississippi State win.
- No. 16 in the nation in 3rd down conversions with 22 on 40 total attempts, good for 50 percent (Last week: No. 1, 60 percent)
- No. 17 in fewest penalties with 15, including No. 27 in total penalty yards at 146 (Last week: No. 20 with 12, No. 25 in total penalty yards at 121)
- No. 19 in rushing yards per game with 212.3, good for first in the SEC (Last week: No. 5, 276.5 rushing yards per game) Ole Miss is the next closest at No. 24 in the nation with 192.3 yards per game.
- No. 22 in time of possession, averaging 32 minutes per game (Last week: No. 2, 36 minutes per game)
- Tied for No. 36 in the nation with six sacks allowed and two per game, good for sixth in the SEC (Last week: Tied for No. 31 with four sacks allowed, tied for fourth in the SEC.
- No. 36 in tackles for loss allowed with 5.67 per game (Last week: Tied for No. 34 in tackles for loss allowed with 5.50 per game)
The Negatives (Offense)
As a whole, the UK offense sits in the bottom half of college football in passing, red zone efficiency, and 4th down conversions, among other categories.
- No. 48 in completion percentage at 59.7 percent, No. 13 in the SEC (Last week: No. 12 at 67.9 percent, No. 4 in the SEC)
- No. 56 in the nation with 366.7 total yards per game, No. 9 in the SEC (Last week: No. 18, 471.5 yards per contest, fifth in the SEC)
- No. 56 in scoring offense at 26.0 points per game. Only five teams have scored fewer points in the SEC (Last week: Tied for No. 51 at 27.0 points per game)
- No. 60 in the nation in total first downs with 57 overall, including 31 rushing first downs, 24 passing first downs, and two first downs from penalties (Last week: Tied for No. 51 with 47 first downs)
- Tied for No. 62 in red zone offense with a 72.7 percent conversion rate (Last week: No. 68 with a 62.5 percent conversion rate)
- No. 63 in passing efficiency at 116.22 (Last week: No. 47, 128.68)
- Tied for No. 66 in the nation in fumbles lost with four in three games (Last week: Tied for No. 58)
- No. 67 in the country in passing offense with 154.3 yards per game, with only Vanderbilt throwing for fewer yards in the SEC. Also No. 66 overall in yards per completion with 10.07 (Last week: No. 58 in the country with 195.0 yards per game and No. 62 overall in yards per completion with 10.26)
- Tied for last in 4th down conversions with zero on four attempts, one of five teams without a conversion (Last week: Tied for last with zero on two attempts)
The Positives (Defense)
While the offensive numbers took a hit, the list of positives for the Kentucky defense runs off the page heading into Week 4. Prior to the Tennessee matchup, UK now sits in the top ten of six major defensive categories, including a dramatic jump from dead last to No. 4 overall in total interceptions.
- Tied for No. 4 in interceptions with six, good for No. 1 in the SEC (Last week: tied for last in the nation with zero)
- No. 5 in red zone defense, allowing a 61.5 percent conversion rate on 13 total attempts, with eight scores being for touchdowns. (Last week: Tied at No. 29, 80 percent allowed conversion rate)
- No. 5 in passing yards allowed per completion (Last week: No. 59, 13.83 yards per completion)
- No. 8 in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 83.3 yards per game. That’s good for No. 2 in the SEC (Last week: No. 27 in the nation, allowing 115.0 yards per contest. No. 9 in the SEC)
- Tied for No. 8 in the nation with one defensive touchdown (Last week: tied for last in the nation with zero)
- Tied for No. 9 in the nation on 4th down defense with a 33.3 percent conversion rate (Last week: Tied for No. 1, 0.0 percent conversion rate)
- Tied for No. 21 in 3rd down defense, allowing opponents to convert on 33.3 percent of attempts (Last week: Tied for 50th, 45.5 percent allowed)
- No. 23 in total defense, allowing an average of 359.3 yards per contest, good for No. 4 in the SEC (Last week: No. 32 in the nation, allowing an average of 391.5 YPG)
- Tied for No. 24 in scoring defense, giving up 24.30 points per game, good for No. 3 in the SEC (Last week: No. 6, 35.50 points allowed per game. Only Missouri (36.50) and Ole Miss (46.00) had worse averages in the SEC)
- Tied for No. 25 in the nation with 60 first downs given up to the opposition, including 39 through the air, 13 on the ground, and eight on penalties (Last week: Tied for No. 19 with 42 first downs given up)
- Tied for No. 28 in turnover margin at + 1, tied for No. 6 in the SEC (Last week: Dead last in the country – No. 74 overall – at -4. One of three teams in the nation without a turnover. UK was also tied for last in interceptions, fumbles recovered, and defensive touchdowns, obviously.
- No. 34 in defensive passing efficiency at 131.47 (Last week: Dead last by a significant margin at 195.63)
The Negatives (Defense)
With the list of positives getting longer, the list of negatives got significantly shorter.
Of the remaining negatives, though, a need for improvement in the pass rush is evident.
- Tied for No. 49 with 1.67 sacks per contest (Last week: Tied for No. 50 with 1.5 sacks per game)
- Tied for No. 53 in the nation in tackles for loss per game at 5.0 in three outings (Last week: Tied for No. 48, 5.0 TFL per game)
- No. 57 in total passing yards allowed at 276.0 per game with 828 total, including seven touchdowns and 9.74 yards allowed per completion (Last week: No. 51, 276.5 passing yards allowed per game)
- Tied for No. 74 – dead last – with zero fumbles recovered (Last week: tied for No. 74)
The Positives (Special Teams)
Kentucky’s status as the No. 1 punting team in the nation has come to an end, with Max Duffy’s net yards per punt dropping by five this week.
- No. 11 in net punting at 43.87 yards per punt (Last week: No. 1 in the nation, 48.86 net yards per punt)
- No. 23 in punt return average at 11.50 yards per return (Last week: No. 19, 11.50 yards per return)
- No. 34 in kickoff returns, averaging 21.25 yards per return (Last week: No. 33, 21.25 yards per return)
The Negatives (Special Teams)
The kicking situation improved a touch, but still plenty to work on.
- Tied for No. 46 in field goal conversions with 50 percent, 1/2 overall (Last week: Tied for last in the nation, zero made field goals, 0.0 percent conversion rate)
- No. 46 in punt return defense at 8.60 yards per return (Last week: Tied for No. 6, 0.00 yards per return)
- Tied for No. 51 in made extra point attempts with nine, 9/10 on the year (Last week: Tied for No. 53 with six, 6/7 on the year)
- No. 69 in kickoff return defense, allowing 28.25 yards per return (Last week: No. 72 in the nation, allowing 34 yards per return)
Kentucky was desperate for a victory against Mississippi State, and they got one. Now, the Wildcats look to continue their positive momentum into their road matchup against the Tennessee Volunteers.