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Kentucky’s Rush Defense vs. the First Six Opponents

Florida’s Cronkrite vs. UK last year, via Mark Zerof | USA Today.

Saturday’s practice report did not read or sound like a ringing endorsement for the Kentucky defense. DJ Eliot later bemoaned the Cats’ tackling which was the unit’s Achilles heel a year ago. In order to play post-season football, UK must efficiently tackle in the trenches as well as in the open field. An early issue could lie within its defensive line. Linebackers rely upon the DL to fend of would-be blockers from reaching the second level. With inexperience abound, this aspect could develop through repetition.

Regie Meant’s departure rolled out a welcome mat for opposing teams to attack on the ground. Somehow, some-way Kentucky has to stop or at a minimum slow down the run. Let’s take a look at last year’s rushing results of Kentucky’s first six opponents:

Southern Mississippi

— 179.9 yards per game

— 5.01 yards per rush

— Top returning rusher: RB Ito Smith; 80.57 yards per game, 6.6 per carry 

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 7.54.14 PM

At Florida

— 126.93 yards per game

— 3.48 yards per carry

— Top returning rusher: Jordan Cronkrite, 13.08 yards per game, 3.57 per carry.

— Top newcomer: RB Mark Thompson

New Mexico State

— 180.50 yards per game

— 4.89 yards per carry

— Top returning rusher: RB Larry Rose III; 137.58 yards per game, 6.88 per carry

*Rose III rushed for 1651 yards in 2015

South Carolina

— 154.67 yards per game

— 4.39 yards per carry

— Top returning rusher: RB David Williams; 24.92 yards per game, 3.48 per carry.

— Top newcomer: QB Brandon McIlwain who will pose a challenge in the read-option and running out of the pocket.

At Alabama

— 199.93 yards per game

— 4.67 yards per carry

— Top returning rusher: RB Damien Harris; 13.08 yards per game, 3.41 per carry

— Top newcomer: RB Bo Scarbrough


— 154.67 yards per game

— 3.75 yards per carry

— Top returning rusher: RB Ralph Webb; 96 yards per game, 4.16 per carry

With a top-shelf SEC secondary, opponents will likely rely on a ground attack when facing the Wildcats. First down plays will be critical. Forcing opponents into certain passing situations will allow its high-powered cornerbacks the opportunity to create turnovers. In order for this to happen, Kentucky has to stop the run.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

8 Comments for Kentucky’s Rush Defense vs. the First Six Opponents

  1. BluKudzu
    8:44 pm August 13, 2016 Permalink

    Still feeling good about 6-6?
    Hoping the OLine is just so dominant, creating a difficult situation for the D Line.
    Taking Drew’s advice – Big glass of Double Oaked Woodford Reserve. Frequently. Making this team look like a bowler.

    • Billy Hill
      1:07 am August 14, 2016 Permalink

      All your posts are going to be fun to look back on later. You should probably stop watching sports. It’s obviously too much for you and your emotions to handle.

    • UK Big Board Update
      10:13 am August 14, 2016 Permalink

      Kudzu is that guy who won’t shut up at a dinner/party, when EVERYONE wishes he would.

  2. BluKudzu
    10:31 am August 14, 2016 Permalink

    Just laughing, I think you are too serious.

  3. BluKudzu
    10:33 am August 14, 2016 Permalink

    Just like ladt year when my predictions were right and you started you hate campaign. Little man

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:15 am August 14, 2016 Permalink

      I’m 6’6′ and could whip your ass. I guarantee it.

  4. BluKudzu
    10:17 pm August 14, 2016 Permalink