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Breaking down Kentucky football’s team stats through Week 8

Kentucky Wildcats offensive tackle Landon Young (67) wore a #65 to honor assistant coach John Schlarman who passed away this week as Kentucky played Vanderbilt on November 14, 2020. Photo by Mark Cornelison

Photo by Mark Cornelison

Following back-to-back losses at Missouri and against Georgia, the Kentucky Wildcats got back in the win column with a 38-35 home victory over Vanderbilt, moving the team’s record to 3-4 on the year. To put the icing on the cake, the offense finally got rolling again, finishing with 458 total yards, including 308 on the ground.

Unfortunately, though, the defense took a step back from the elite play we’ve seen throughout the season, allowing 407 total yards and 35 points.

After a much-needed victory, 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)

The Kentucky offense took a solid step forward against Vanderbilt, and the numbers jumped in several key categories, specifically in rushing yards per game and tackles for loss allowed. With zero allowed sacks on Saturday, they also jumped into the top 50 of that category, as well.

  • Tied for No. 16 in tackles for loss allowed with 4.00 per game (Last week: Tied for No. 31 with 4.67 per game)
  • No. 24 in fewest penalties per game with 4.71 (Last week: No. 8 with 3.83 per game)
  • No. 37 in rushing yards per game with 195.0, good for No. 2 in the SEC (Last week: No. 48, 176.2 rushing yards per game, No. 3 in the SEC)
  • No. 38 in the nation in 3rd down conversions with 40 on 89 total attempts, good for 44.9 percent (Last week: No. 33, 45.7 percent)
  • Tied for No. 50 in the nation with 13 sacks allowed and 1.86 per game, tied for No. 6 in the SEC (Last week: Tied for No. 62 with nine sacks allowed, No. 10 in the SEC)
  • No. 52 in completion percentage at 62.5 percent, No. 9 in the SEC (Last week: No. 70 at 59.8 percent, No. 11 in the SEC)

The Negatives (Offense)

As a whole, though, the UK offense is still not turning any heads as a collective unit in the grand scheme of things. They had an improved day across the board on Saturday, but the Wildcats still boast one of the worst passing attacks in not only the SEC, but all of college football.

  • Tied for No. 61 in time of possession, averaging 30 minutes per game (Last week: Tied for No. 52, 30 minutes per game)
  • No. 62 in total penalties with 33, including No. 71 in total penalty yards at 309 (Last week: No. 47 with 23, No. 48 in total penalty yards at 166)
  • No. 62 in the nation in total first downs with 121 overall, including 72 rushing first downs, 41 passing first downs, and eight first downs from penalties (Last week: No. 71 with 98 first downs)
  • Tied for No. 65 in red zone offense with a 84.2 percent conversion rate (Last week: Tied for No. 80 with a 81.3 percent conversion rate)
  • No. 88 in passing efficiency at 121.79 (Last week: No. 101, 113.58)
  • Tied for No. 96 in scoring offense at 23.3 points per game. Only four teams have scored fewer points in the SEC (Last week: Tied for No. 104 at 20.8 points per game)
  • Tied for No. 106 in 4th down conversions with three on eight attempts (Last week: No. 110 with two on seven attempts)
  • Tied for No. 115 in the nation in fumbles lost with seven in seven games (Last week: No. 108 with seven lost in six games)
  • No. 115 in the nation with 318.0 total yards per game, dead last in the SEC (Last week: No. 114, 294.7 yards per contest, last in the SEC)
  • No. 116 in the country in passing offense with 123.0 yards per game, good for dead last in the SEC by a significant margin. The next closest is Tennessee at 174.7 passing yards per game. Also No. 119 overall in yards per completion with 9.06 (Last week: No. 117 in the country with 118.5 yards per game and No. 116 overall in yards per completion with 9.00)

The Positives (Defense)

One rough outing by the UK defense didn’t hurt too bad for its season statistics, with the unit still finishing in the top 25 of five different major categories, along with seven spots in the top 40. The Wildcats remain one of the top teams in all of college football in forcing turnovers and limiting scoring.

  • Tied for No. 2 in the nation with three defensive touchdowns (Last week: No. 2 in the nation with three)
  • Tied for No. 4 in interceptions with 11, good for No. 2 in the SEC (Last week: Tied for No. 2 in the nation with 11, No. 2 in the SEC)
  • Tied for No. 11 in red zone defense, allowing a 69.2 percent conversion rate on 26 total attempts, with 18 scores being for touchdowns. (Last week: No. 8 in the nation, 63.6 percent allowed conversion rate)
  • No. 8 in passing yards allowed per completion at 9.86 (Last week: No. 9 overall, 9.78 passing yards allowed per completion)
  • No. 24 in scoring defense, giving up 21.30 points per game, good for No. 2 in the SEC (Last week: No. 18, 19.00 points allowed per game, No. 1 in the SEC)
  • No. 39 in defensive passing efficiency at 125.07 (Last week: No. 30 at 121.40)
  • Tied for No. 36 in turnover margin at + 4, tied for No. 5 in the SEC (Last week: Tied for No. 32 at +4, tied for No. 4 in the SEC)
  • No. 40 in total defense, allowing an average of 362.7 yards per contest, good for No. 4 in the SEC (Last week: No. 30 in the nation, allowing an average of 355.3 YPG. No. 3 in the SEC)
  • No. 43 in total passing yards allowed at 214.1 per game with 1499 total, including ten touchdowns (Last week: No. 33, 212.0 passing yards allowed per game)
  • No. 50 in  the nation in rushing defense, allowing 148.6 yards per game. That’s good for No. 7 in the SEC (Last week: No. 51 in the nation, allowing 143.3 yards per contest. No. 7 in the SEC)

The Negatives (Defense)

Kentucky’s pass rush continues to be an issue, sitting in the bottom half of the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. They also dropped in 3rd- and 4th-down defense, along with total first downs allowed.

  • No. 77 in the nation on 4th down defense with a 61.1 percent conversion rate (Last week: Tied for No. 58, 56.3 percent conversion rate)
  • No. 88 in 3rd down defense, allowing opponents to convert on 43.3 percent of attempts (Last week: Tied for No. 54, 38.8 percent allowed)
  • No. 90 in the nation with 153 first downs given up to the opposition, including 76 through the air, 63 on the ground, and 14 on penalties (Last week: Tied for No. 78 with 124 first downs given up)
  • Tied for No. 95 with one fumble recovered (Last week: tied for No. 88 with one fumble recovered)
  • No. 107 with 1.29 sacks per contest (Last week: Tied for No. 98 with 1.33 sacks per game)
  • Tied for No. 108 in the nation in tackles for loss at 4.4 per game (Last week: Tied for No. 104, 4.5 TFL per game)

The Positives (Special Teams)

Even with Max Duffy out against the Commodores, the UK punting unit remains one of the best in college football, sitting in the top ten for net punting. UK’s punt return average also saw a solid boost thanks to a big return by Josh Ali on Saturday.

  • No. 10 in net punting at 43.58 yards per punt (Last week: No. 9 in the nation, 44.00 net yards per punt)
  • Tied for No. 22 in punt return average at 12.40 yards per return (Last week: No. 47, 8.00 yards per return)
  • Tied for No. 31 in field goal conversions with 85.71 percent, 6/7 overall (Last week: Tied for No. 31 in the nation with five makes, 83.3 percent conversion rate)
  • Tied for No. 48 in kickoff returns, averaging 21.00 yards per return (Last week: No. 42, 21.25 yards per return)
  • Tied for No. 49 in made extra point attempts with 19, 19/20 on the year (Last week: Tied for No. 63 with 14, 14/15 on the year)

The Negatives (Special Teams)

The list of negatives for special teams remains quite short, with both downfalls coming on return defense.

  • No. 80 in punt return defense at 8.60 yards per return (Last week: Tied for No. 81, 8.60 yards per return)
  • No. 105 in kickoff return defense, allowing 24.78 yards per return (Last week: No. 112 in the nation, allowing 26.29 yards per return)

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR