Mark Stoops will make about $3.8 million in 2018. Through five games, he’s earned every penny.
The former defensive coordinator has created one of the best defenses in the country while leading UK to a 5-0 start. Kentucky has surrendered just 12.6 points per game, ranked third in the country. The defense is led by future first round pick Josh Allen, who leads the nation in tackles for loss (10.5) and is tied for third in sacks (6).
Stats are one way good way to measure success. One picture from Saturday night perfectly captures the completeness of Mark Stoops’ defense.
As soon as the game started, South Carolina was stuck. They could not move the ball against Kentucky’s defense. The Cats were too good at the point of attack. To get around the UK defense, the Gamecocks tried a gimmick.
(SPOILER: The gimmick didn’t work.)
The South Carolina offense split the tackles out wide to move Allen away from the line of scrimmage. The odd offensive formation is designed to catch teams unprepared and exploit them for a big play. Kentucky was prepared.
“We practice it, but we didn’t know they’d come out with that stuff,” Mike Edwards said after the 24-10 win. “We call it ‘numbers,’ so when they do that stuff, we have a gameplan for that.”
South Carolina had never shown that formation before, but Kentucky was completely prepared.
“They could do it many different ways. They could put more guys to one side or the other, so we count and make sure we’re properly lined up,” Stoops said after the game. “I was pleased that no timeout was needed. We had all the eligibles covered. They always try to hide one in the middle to make somebody eligible in the inside and slip them a cheap one down the middle…They were looking for big plays there and we had it all matched up very good”
Kentucky did not need to waste a timeout to get properly aligned. South Carolina moved the ball a little with the run, but when they tried to catch UK off guard with a big play, Kentucky’s defense took everything away. As soon as South Carolina was forced out of the formation, Allen and Boogie Watson let Jake Bentley slip through their fingers on a third and long that would have ended the drive. The Gamecocks would finish the drive with a field goal.
In previous years, the formation might have forced Kentucky to burn a timeout, or the Cats would have surrendered a big play. This year they practice against odd formations once a week.
Mark Stoops’ defense is prepared for every possible scenario and that’s why he makes almost $4 million a year.