The Kentucky defense currently holds the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation, and it’s a statistic the unit is extremely proud of.
They have allowed a combined 90 points on the year and just 60 points in five SEC games, a total average of 12.9 points per game and a ridiculous 12 PPG games in the conference. Only Fresno State has the Cats beat, allowing just 12.6 points per game on the season.
But even maintaining the No. 2 defense in the nation isn’t good enough. Any points allowed is an extreme disappointment in their eyes.
“It means a lot [to allow no points],” said head coach Mark Stoops in his post-Vanderbilt press conference. “We talked about that. We said that to the defense today, going into the game, that every yard and every point was personal. It means something to us.”
And it nearly happened against Vandy on Saturday. Despite finding themselves in Kentucky territory throughout the evening, the stout Wildcat defense held them scoreless in all but one drive.
“We’re trying to do our best to shut them out, hold them as best we can,” said Stoops. “Believe we would have a good chance if we didn’t turn the ball over.”
The star of the defense, senior pass-rusher Josh Allen, said the team was “pissed” when they weren’t able to leave a goose egg on the opponent’s side of the scoreboard on Saturday.
“We were all pissed when they scored,” said Allen. “We went in with the mindset that they wouldn’t score any points, and then they scored the first touchdown, we were all upset. But we know this defense is legit and we knew we were going to come out and not give up anything.”
With elite talent layered through all three levels, teams are forced to rely on officials missing penalties or bailing them out with flags thrown on Kentucky to find any kind of success against the unit. We saw a whole lot more of that on Saturday, and the players finally broke their silence about it.
Josh Allen is getting the Shaq treatment, regularly getting held without flags being thrown. He finally drew one flag on Saturday, but the star linebacker says there were multiple other missed calls on the day.
“I got held on the one they called, and then like two or three more other times,” said Allen. “It was terrible. But you know, you’ve just gotta keep playing and make my plays. Hopefully they’ll make a call [in the future].”
On the flip side, cornerback Derrick Baity was called for a hold on an easy interception play that killed some solid momentum the Cats were working with. Commentators, media members, and fans heavily criticized the call, with the SEC Network’s Jordan Rogers going as far as ranting on live television about how atrocious the penalty was.
Baity was asked about the play after the game, where he adamantly denied holding the Vanderbilt receiver.
“No [I didn’t hold him]. But I’m not gonna argue with the refs. It’s over with, can’t do nothing about it. But nah, I didn’t hold him,” he said.
This defense is so good teams have to cheat to have a shot at scoring.