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Mark Stoops Expects Consistency from his Defense in 2018

Entering Mark Stoops’ sixth season at the University of Kentucky, the expectations have been raised.  After consecutive seven-win seasons, to take the next step UK’s defense must improve in 2018.

That sentiment is unanimously shared throughout the Big Blue Nation.  Mark Stoops echoed that this afternoon when asked about program expectations in an appearance on “3 Man Front,” a program co-hosted by Cole Cubelic on 95.5 Jox-FM in Birmingham.

“We have some very good football players with some experience coming back defensively,” Stoops said. “We need to make a big jump there because we have the personnel to do that and I feel like we have some experience.  Now we’re getting some decent depth, so I feel like defensively we need to make a big jump as far as being more consistent.  I think we’ve shown some flashes and done some really good things at times, but across the board I’d like to see the consistency there.”

In 2017 Kentucky finished 12th in the SEC in total defense (426.9 yards per game) and 13th in passing defense (251.6 yards per game).  There are a few reasons why Stoops believes Kentucky’s numbers will be better in 2018, starting up front on the defensive line.

“I feel like we’re in a better position than we have been in some years.  Quinton Bohanna at nose is a guy who was just a true freshman a year ago and did some really good things.  He’s a big, strong guy in the middle there that I like.  I feel like with Josh Paschal — we moved him from an outside linebacker to an inside position playing with his hand in the dirt every snap — he’s a very athletic guy and looks really good inside.

“Another guy, Adrian Middleton, has played a lot football for us, but battling with him is Phil Hoskins.  He’s a junior college transfer that was a three-for-three (years of eligibility) a year ago who was coming off a couple shoulders (injuries).  He did a couple things good a year ago, but now you’re starting to see him with an offseason getting stronger, more athletic.  I like the presence he brings us inside as well, along with T.J. Carter getting another year and another offseason under his belt.  So I feel like we have some options inside.”

Not far behind the deeper defensive line is a playmaker that could be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Allen.  Stoops said Allen has used the offseason to build muscle, something I can confirm after spotting Allen at Saturday night’s football camp.  All the way up to 260 pounds, Allen is doing all of the right things before a big year.

“I expect him to be if not the top, one of the top outside backers in the country.  He’s a difference-maker.  He’s a guy that does a lot of things well,” Stoops said.  “Josh really is the whole package and we’re really excited about his senior year.”

Mark Stoops talked about more than his defense during the 11-minute interview that you can find here. Highlights:

Who’s the Starting Quarterback?  Naturally, Stoops responded with a chuckle and a “we’ll see.”

“We’ll see where it goes.  Gunnar and Terry both have some very good qualities, look calm back there and make good decisions.  They’re getting better with every opportunity so I don’t feel the need to rush that decision.”

Will Ahmad Wagner Play?  The former Iowa basketball player and current 6’7″ UK wide receiver has all the athleticism in the world to become a playmaker on UK’s offense, but Stoops preached patience as he explained how Wagner got to UK.

“We knew Ahmad out of high school recruiting him to play football, and he was a dual-sport guy and decided to go play basketball.  When he reached out to us and felt like he wanted to give football a shot, it was worth the scholarship to us because we knew how athletic he was coming out of high school.

“Visiting with him when he came here to see us face-to-face, I just liked what he had to say and the direction he wanted to go.  He’s a very, very athletic big man.  We’re excited about him and the options we have.  We know he’s going to take some time, it’s going to take some work for a while, but we feel like he has big upside.”

Is Rose Ready? After a big spring and a promising summer, Stoops is anxious to see what A.J. Rose brings to the table this fall.

“A.J. was a guy that we felt like has an awful lot of talent.  He’s been working hard, but he needed to be more productive.  He did that in the spring.  He really stepped up and had a great spring.  He’s working hard right now this summer, so we’re excited about getting back into camp and seeing what he can do.”

During the 11-minute interview, Stoops also talked about Dorian Baker, Benny Snell and shared some old stories about Frank Gore.  Check it out.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

25 Comments for Mark Stoops Expects Consistency from his Defense in 2018

  1. kjd
    4:29 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    We need significant improvement on both sides of the ball.

  2. CB3UK
    6:17 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    It’s Year 6. Time to make a bit of noise!

  3. bigblue98
    6:33 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Want to see dbacks play press coverage instead of 10-12 yards off the ball. Sometimes it seems we concede short passes at 6-7 yard gains, which set up easy 2nd and 3rd down situations for our opponents.

    • IAmTheDanger
      7:28 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      Not to mention giving up that kind of cushion on 3rd and short. I don’t think they’re going for the deep ball here guys, you may want to reel in that 8-10 yard cushion you’re giving him.

    • cats646
      8:11 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink


  4. CombatMedic_98
    9:14 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    This year we will actually have trash cans during the game to use while on the field…automatic “sideline” spitting machines so players won’t have to spit on opposing team fans, and no one else will post pics with fans’ of 100’s and a new ride to tip off the popo ??…should be a great season!!!!

  5. Catcasey1
    9:27 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Year 6 and we still have stoops ain’t making any noise!

    • cats646
      9:45 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

      Stoops has made more “noise” than any other coach in recent Kentucky history. Moron.

    • unbridled
      11:23 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

      Cats646….that ain’t saying much. The bar has been set pretty low

    • cats646
      12:08 pm June 13, 2018 Permalink

      Well I can’t argue with that unbridled. I just honestly believe stoops can get it done. But I also think he has to do something big this year. Whether that be beating Florida, or Georgia, or winning 8 or 9 games. Go cats!

  6. blueballs80
    12:07 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    12th in the SEC in total defense (426.9 yards per game) and 13th in passing defense (251.6 yards per game). Either this team lacks discipline or they have schematic/strategic game planning issues, If Stoops cannot make significant strides in the defense from the previous season, then we will be in trouble. 13th in passing defense? We will make every QB look like a Heisman with that stat.

  7. maximumscott
    12:29 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    Idk what Stoops is talking about… we have been consistently poor.

  8. CombatMedic_98
    12:34 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    All jokes aside…it’s time to run for the SEC Title. Everyone is talking about Bowl games, 9-2 record wishes, etc. 30 years since we have won anything to ‘talk about’! Maybe we should get Calipari to coach BBALL & FBALL!!!

    • Rembrandt
      3:59 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

      Right. There are nearly as many UK fans here who get their jollies by trashing Cal, so he would be a perfect fit for the football job.

  9. CombatMedic_98
    12:34 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    We’ll see!

  10. terwilliger
    7:03 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    Just beat Florida, Christ. They could go 1-11 for all I care.

  11. Sentient Third Eye
    8:18 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    In modern football, the major difference between good teams and average teams is consistency. Average teams are really good on about half of their snaps, but they struggle on the other half. Meanwhile, good teams cut the number of bad snaps down to maybe a third or a quarter. Stoops has his finger on exactly the main area we need to improve in.

  12. jimmer
    9:46 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    Improve on Def or good riddance. It’s time. No more excuses. And shall we add cover the WR.

  13. Alleykat16
    9:51 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    I agree with Stoops we are starting to get decent depth. That’s the most important thing in college football. Programs have to have that depth to win games in the SEC week after week. In Stoops first years when the starters came out to rest the drop off was huge. And I believe with my whole heart that this year we make a big improvement against the teams that we need to beat that in the past we could not do that. I believe this year us the year we beat Florida. We have played some decent games there in the swamp and I think this year is the year. GO BIG BLUE!

    • kjd
      10:51 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

      Florida upgraded their coach. Early season matchup at Florida=loss.

    • cats646
      12:11 pm June 13, 2018 Permalink

      Idk. I’m going to Florida for that game though because I’m in the same boat as alleykat. Reason being is I don’t think we’re lucky enough to beat them at home.

  14. DennyC
    10:29 am June 13, 2018 Permalink

    So in year 5 KY was 12th and 13th on a DC head coached team???? Progress??? smh… #Pitiful

  15. BluKudzu
    1:19 pm June 13, 2018 Permalink

    6 years to bet is from the worst defense in the SEC, to the second worst.
    Progress baby!
    66 more years like this, and we will be going to Atlanta.
    C’mon Mitch, hire a coach.

  16. Miller45
    5:16 pm June 15, 2018 Permalink

    I expect to see blown assignments, stupid penalties, and big plays