Mark Stoops said before the start of the 2018 season that this was the best defense he’s ever fielded at Kentucky. They did not shut out Central Michigan, but they showed early signs of greatness.
“This is the best we’ve played as a unit for a full game or full scrimmage or anything to this point,” Stoops said. “I really liked the way we played as a unit today. So it’s what I expect of them and to improve from here.”
Kentucky held Central Michigan to just 255 yards of total offense. I thought that was a good number. Josh Allen did not.
“First off, that was too much,” said Allen. “I didn’t know we gave up that many yards. I wasn’t trying to give up more than 200 at all. We just got to get better because that’s not good. Two hundred yards, that’s not good. We were trying to get 100 or less. Overall, I felt like we did good. A lot of players made plays, but we just gotta make more.”
They made enough plays to shut down Jonathan Ward. The Central Michigan running back talked quite a bit of trash earlier this week. Ward only rushed for 36 yards on 11 carries.
“We talk with our pads,” Allen said. Kash Daniel added: “We did our talking on the field today.”
Daniel led the team in tackles with 11. Allen was not far behind, finishing with 10 tackles, 3 for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry. Jordan Jones added 8 tackles (1.5 TFL and 1 sack) and Darius West had 7.
“I’m really proud of the way the guys came back and fought. The offense put points on the board for us and the defense stepped up good,” Daniel said after the game.
“There was some adversity that hit in the first half and I thought my teammates on the defensive side of the ball responded well. They didn’t hang their head and we came back and responded as a unit.”
The leaders of the defense gave the Big Blue Nation a reason to be optimistic. They’re optimistic because they know there’s so much room to grow.
“Thank God it’s only week one,” Kash said. “We’ve got so much to build off of. We can’t wait to come back in on Monday and get after it.”