It’s been a remarkable run for Kentucky’s defense in 2018 and their superstar outside linebacker is a big reason why. Josh Allen, the former two-star recruit, has been one of the best defenders in college football this fall and the numbers prove it.
After seven games, the senior ranks nationally in many categories. Allen is seventh in sacks (eight), 1oth in tackles for loss (12.5), and fifth in fumbles forced (three). He’s been a force and his well on his way to becoming UK’s first consensus defensive All-American player since Art Still in 1977.
The best part of Allen’s game happens to show up in the final moments. In three of Kentucky’s four SEC wins, the senior has made a game clinching strip sack to end the game for the Wildcats. On this week’s edition of Inside The Play, we’ll be taking you inside each one of those plays to show you just how Allen finds a way to come up big when his team needs it the most.
Down in The Swamp, UK turned to their defense to close out the historic win. After a quick first down and a spike, Dan Mullen’s offense faced a second and 10 with just nine seconds remaining in the ballgame. On this play, it appears the Gators were going to a deep sideline pass to setup the Hail Mary attempt.
The Gators come out in a 3×1 set with an overload on the right side. This creates an isolation opportunity on the left, but more than likely quarterback Feliepe Franks is going to be looking to the right. The Gators are expecting zone coverage and that is exactly what they get from Kentucky in the prevent defense. Florida is going to try and overload the zone towards the right to create an easy throw and catch.
Up front, Kentucky decides to just rush four which allows their outside rushers to each have an isolation situation with the Florida tackles. The rest is history.
Florida gets greedy. The Gators and Feleipe Franks decide not to take the free 10-15 yards UK is giving them to setup the final play. Instead they try to go deep right away. This allows enough time for Allen to make a play.
It’s a straight speed rush from the senior and left tackle Martez Ivey does not get enough depth on the pass set. Allen gets a great jump off of the snap and uses a perfectly timed inside shoulder dip to avoid the lunging tackle. Franks does a good job of feeling the heat and stepping into the pocket but it isn’t enough. The elongated release allows for Josh Allen to cover the remaining ground.
Kentucky recovers the fumble and eventually scores a touchdown. Mark Stoops gets a Gatorade bath, Kash Daniel does his best Stone Cold impersonation, and Josh Allen gets some well deserved national attention. But the senior was just getting started.
With just a minute left in the game, UK held a 24-10 edge against South Carolina with just a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. After a sack by Boogie Watson on second and short, the Gamecocks found themselves in an obvious passing situation. Josh Allen went to work once again.
Once again, Josh Allen is facing the left tackle in isolation on an obvious passing down. The senior goes to the handy speed rush and the offensive linemen stands no chance. This time, Allen gets the South Carolina player’s shoulders turned towards the sideline. Once he does that, the tackle does not make good contact on the strike and Allen has the leverage advantage to the outside. Another inside shoulder dip gives him a winning move.
The tackle stays on the block after Josh Allen turns the corner. However, the quarterback is unable to step up in the pocket and that creates an opportunity. Allen swats down on the throwing arm which creates the sack and fumble. He does it again but this time in a different way.
With only a touchdown lead and a minute remaining, Vanderbilt is approaching midfield. On a second and ten, UK once again lines up Josh Allen against a left tackle. However, on this play the ‘Dores have a running back aligned next to quarterback Kyle Shurmur. Here, Allen must be aware of potential blocking help coming from the back.
Allen gets off to another great jump on the speed rush. For some reason, the running back decides not to help even though he is running in that direction. That’s either a significant miscalculation or a blown assignment.
The inside shoulder dip once again wins out even after a valiant effort by the left tackle. He would’ve been fine with any help at all from the running back. The inside pressure from Calvin Taylor, Jr. slows down the quarterback just enough and Allen finishes off the game with a strip sack.
The senior has been dominant all season. Josh Allen has made plays in pass coverage, against the run, and especially in pass rush. He’s become the best closer in college football and almost single handedly ended three games. One day teams will start doubling him with the game on the line.
We are seeing greatness, Big Blue Nation. Enjoy him while he’s rocking the blue and white.