The 2019 Kentucky football season did not go according to plan.
A year after recording ten wins the Wildcats lost their quarterback, entire secondary and two all-time greats. Despite the circumstances Mark Stoops’ squad finished with a 7-5 record, the first time Kentucky has ever won seven regular season games in four straight seasons. The defensive stats and the rushing numbers are a sight to behold. Take a look for yourself.
— Kentucky’s defense surrendered only seven touchdown passes all season, tied with Ohio State for the second-fewest in the nation. Clemson only allowed six touchdown passes, probably because they got to play teams like Louisville every week. Opposing quarterbacks had a 112.3 QB rating (13th nationally) averaging 6.3 yards per pass (19th).
— Opponents averaged 172.2 passing yards per game against Kentucky’s secondary, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame. A unit filled with first-year starters, they eclipsed the mark set by last year’s defense that finished ranked 18th nationally, allowing 186.3 ypg.
— In Brad White’s first year as defensive coordinator Kentucky held opponents to only 18.4 points per game, tied for 13th in the nation. That’s better than Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and eight other SEC teams.
— Opponents averaged 321.6 total yards per game, ranked 20th nationally. The defense got help from the offense. Eddie Gran controlled the ball so well, UK’s opponents ran only 61.75 plays per game, the 11th-fewest in America.
— When it comes to containing explosive plays, UK’s defense ranked in the top 25 nationally in allowing plays of 10+, 20+, 30+, 40+ and 50+ yards.
— Kentucky’s success was not predicated on one player. In previous years it was a one-man show with a linebacker finishing in the top three of the SEC tackles. DeAndre Square was the only Wildcat to finish in the top 25 in the SEC tackles, coming in at No. 24 with 68. Yusuf Corker was right behind him with 67 tackles. Team defense at its best.
— Kentucky set a new single-season school record by recording 3,293 rushing yards, topping the SEC and ranking fifth in the FBS. The Wildcats ranked No. 4 in yards per carry with 6.36 yards per attempt.
— The Cats set new single-game rushing records in each of the final two games of the season. Of course, 519 yards against Louisville is a new Governor’s Cup record. Six rushing touchdowns is also a new Governor’s Cup record. While I’m throwing salt in the wound…
UK scored more than 45 points against UofL in consecutive seasons.
Kentucky has not done that to one opponent since 1938-39 vs. Oglethorpe.
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) December 3, 2019
— Only five teams attempted fewer passes in 2019, three of them are military academies and none are in a Power Five conference. The four passing yards Kentucky recorded in the Governor’s Cup are a new record for the game, surpassing the record UofL set last year with only 79, except this time the team that passed for fewer yards won by 32 points.
— Eddie Gran’s had at least one 1,000-yard rusher in every season he’s been Kentucky’s offensive coordinator after Lynn Bowden surpassed the milestone vs. Louisville. The bulk of his 1,235 yards were gained over just seven games and are the second-most in the SEC in 2019, trailing only Miss. State’s Kylin Hill.
— No Kentucky punter has ever had a better season than Max Duffy. Now up to 48.6 yards per punt in 2019, more than half of his punts have landed inside the 20-yard line. He’s kicked 22 more than 50 yards to help Kentucky lead the nation in net punting.
— Calvin Taylor Jr. did not record a sack against UofL (even though I think he should have been credited for at least a half), giving him 7.5 to finish the regular season, 1.5 behind Florida’s Jonathan Greenard for the best mark in the SEC. Boogie Watson added two sacks to his season total against Louisville, giving him 6.5 this season to finish tied for sixth in the SEC. Watson also had 9.5 TFLs, tied for 12th in the SEC.
The wide receiver who finished 5-2 as Kentucky’s starting quarterback deserves his own category.
— In seven games as the starter Bowden averaged 162.3 rushing ypg. College football’s leading rusher, Chubba Hubbard, averages 161.3 ypg. this season. If you throw in the other five games Bowden still averages more than 100 ypg. Throughout the entire season he averaged 8.18 yards per carry, the third-most in America.
— Bowden’s 284 rushing yards vs. Louisville are the most ever by an SEC quarterback and the most rushing yards by an SEC player in a single-game this season. He tied Benny Snell’s school record with four touchdowns. He did it all while averaging 12.9 yards per carry, the third-best mark in SEC history.
— Bowden had 41 rushes of 10+ yards, 16 of 20+ yards, 10 of 30+ yards and 7 of 40+ yards, all tops in the SEC.
— Passing yards are not included in the 153 all-purpose yards Bowden gained per game, the ninth-most nationally.
— The only player in FBS leading his team in rushing and receiving, he’s the first player since 2000 to have at least 800 rushing yards, 300 passing and 300 receiving yards in a single season.