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Numbers suggest UK’s defense hasn’t really improved under Stoops

Kentucky’s record over the past five seasons shows the program has improved under Mark Stoops. The defense? Not so much. Mark Story posted a column today with some eye-opening stats that show that, in some ways, Kentucky’s defense is actually worse than it was when Joker Phillips was coach.

During Joker Phillips’ ill-fated three-year tenure (2010-12) as Kentucky head coach, the worst UK defense (2012) surrendered an average of 391 total yards a game.

In Stoops’ first five seasons, the best UK defense (2015) surrendered an average of 394.2 yards a game.

Story also notes that Kentucky’s defense is giving up more than 400 yards in 59 percent of its games under Stoops, a 13.1 percent increase from the Joker days. Ouch. With Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, and Jordan Jones back, Kentucky’s defense has the talent to hold their own, but will they? If not, it’s going to be a long season.

For more depressing stats, head on over to the Herald-Leader.



Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

58 Comments for Numbers suggest UK’s defense hasn’t really improved under Stoops

  1. JTHinton
    7:20 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Our schedule has gotten more difficult, though, so it’s in part understandable. Most coordinators who assume head coaching responsibilities rarely see great change in their area of expertise.

    • Kernel Sanders
      7:56 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      Why is our schedule more difficult? The SEC East has been down for the last 4 or 5 years. We still play 3 patsies in OOC games, and I’d bet Petrino’s version 2.0 record and stats at UofL are worse than his earlier stint there, even with Lamar Jackson.

      On the contrary, I feel like Stoops has missed an opportunity to improve more in the SEC East when the schedule has been doable. Don’t get me wrong, the SEC is never easy, but I don’t think Stoops has it any worse than Joker, Rich, Curry or anybody else.

    • JTHinton
      8:09 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      Florida, Georgia, Vandy, and Mississippi State are probably all better than 2011/12/13. South Carolina, Mizzou, and Tennessee have dropped off, but are still tough teams to win at. Louisville scores 40+ ppg with Lamar Jackson. And while we lament the Southern Miss loss, they are a very solid team.

      However, I do agree that the schedule is doable and that he had missed an opportunity to improve.

    • KYcats11
      10:03 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      I’ll take the wins. Don’t care how we get them.

  2. terwilliger
    7:20 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    I’m just tired of media types (including some KSR writers) calling out fans for not being more excited about Kentucky football. We weren’t born yesterday. Kentucky football has, through the years, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory more often than any other BCS school.

    Until we start winning 90% of the games that we SHOULD WIN (Florida and Ole Miss last year), then it’s hard to get excited about winning 10% of games we probably shouldn’t (@USCjr).

    For every step forward UK football ever takes, it inevitably takes two steps back. I am 35 and it’s been this way my entire life. Until that changes, you can’t expect the fan base to get excited.

  3. ukjaybrat
    7:22 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Offenses are much more dynamic and higher scoring across the board now than 5-10 years ago. I bet if joker’s teams had to face these offenses, it’d have been much worse. Speculation and no evidence whatsoever to support this. Nor am I defending stoops defense. Just my observation.

  4. Jiminy Crickets
    7:26 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    In the last 70 years, UL has had FIVE teams allow opposing QBs to average 60% or higher completion percentage against them. FIVE in last SEVENTY years of Kentucky football. Mark stoops was the coach of two of those 5.

  5. Jiminy Crickets
    7:27 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Type-o. Of course I meant UK not UL

    • JTHinton
      7:31 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      To be fair, and I’m not sure which years this occurred, so it may be irrelevant, but his first two teams were worse than FCS schools.

  6. Duuuuuude
    7:54 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    We have not had a good defense in 40 years.

  7. Catcasey1
    7:58 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    The reason for this is stoops!!

    • Bluebloodtoo
      9:22 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      Does Stoops usually call the defensive plays? Or does he attempt to trust the coach who is responsible? How many defensive coaches have we been through?

    • unbridled
      8:37 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Blueblood….it doesn’t matter who calls the defensive assignments. Stoops is the head guy. What he is doing is clearly not working, unless mediocrity is your goal. No way around that.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      4:28 pm July 11, 2018 Permalink

      I disagree in general with that line of thinking. Managers definitely are responsible for their charges, but a good manager will give their charges enough rope to hang themselves. If you don’t give them room/opportunity to grow, then they aren’t likely to grow.

  8. ItsJustAPrankBro
    8:00 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    What it fails to mention is that joker was handed a better team then stoops was. Stoops had to rebuild the entire program. Stoops first two seasons was with basically a division 2 team

    • brb_skywalking
      8:46 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      Exactly. In Joker’s first couple seasons he was playing with Brooks’ recruits that had been in the system for years. Stoops started his tenure with FCS talent at multiple positions that had been recruited by Joker. No matter how good 1 or 2 players Stoops recruited had been, they couldn’t carry an FCS team through the SEC

    • Rabbi Li
      4:10 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      ItsJustAPrankBro – The quality of the team each coach was handed is meaningless when you look at the year by year stats (which Mark Story’s article didn’t share):

      PHILLIPS =====
      Year …. Defensive Yards Given Up ….. Points Given Up Per Game
      2010 …. 354.2 …. 28.4
      2011 …. 377.0 …. 24.7
      2012 …. 391.0 …. 31.0

      STOOPS =====
      Year …. Defensive Yards Given Up ….. Points Given Up Per Game
      2013 …. 406.9 …. 31.2
      2014 …. 406.9 …. 31.2
      2015 …. 394.2 …. 27.4
      2016 …. 436.8 …. 31.3
      2017 …. 426.9 …. 28.2

      Stoops defenses have never achieved the YPGD of any of Phillips teams and the points given up has always been quite similar.

      Stoops has clearly benefited from a weak SEC East (UF, UT, SC) and the softest non-conference scheduling in decades.

      If there was ever a time for Stoops to show he is a defensive minded coach it’s now… since he has his players. Just keep in mind how he kept his job, a weak SEC east, Eddie Gran, an Athletic Director that sells 4-4 in the SEC East as success regardless of the amount of money spent, & a President that thinks a Toilet Bowl game is achievement.

    • Miller45
      2:12 pm July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Thing is though this is the third season where the entire roster has been constructed by stoops, no longer a team that was inherited, no players from a different “era”.

  9. goose2
    8:20 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    The defensive yardage may be about the same, but Stoops has a hell lot more wins. Isnt that what we want. WINS, WINS WINS

  10. USMC5150
    8:38 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Any tips for parking spots at Gainesville for the football game? Also is there a KSR spot usually?

  11. SGD
    8:58 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    The defense is waiting for the coaches to decide what the offense is doing. Then they send in the play at the last second. They spend all this time thinking rather than line up and play ball.

  12. Bluebloodtoo
    9:20 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    I wonder how many of those defensive yards came as a result of pass plays or run plays.

    • Alex90
      9:52 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink


    • Bluebloodtoo
      4:29 pm July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Point being that Stoops is known for his defensive backs, not necessarily for his secondary.

  13. Bluebloodtoo
    9:25 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Oh, and how many defensive players on the joker team that was referenced were actually rectified and coached by his predecessors staff? Stoops got to coach Jokers recruits for a few years.

  14. 3dcatfan
    9:25 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    The media has given Stoops a pass on this far too long. The 3-4 requires special talent to run effectively. I heard some in the media say well we’ve recruited for the 3-4 now so we can’t switch to a 4-3 from a personnel stand point. Hogwash! Stop listening to these mouthpieces for the coaching staff. These same people say the air raid wouldn’t work today. LMAO He’s really put a lot of our guys in bad situations by sticking to a 3-4 exclusively. If we had Bama type players across the front 7 it would make more sense. Bama even runs different sets 3-4, 4-3 etc… Stoops has been far to stubborn when it comes to his defensive scheme. Time for a change on defense!!!

    • notFromhere
      3:39 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      How many leghumping morons are going to keep comparing UK to Alabama? Wth is wrong with people? Bama? Really…

      Why do you think Bama can change sets so easily, yet still lose a game with 2 deep 5 star talent? Ssdd…

    • 3dcatfan
      8:29 pm July 11, 2018 Permalink

      notFromhere are you a mouth breather? The point is Bama doesn’t do what we try to do which makes it even worse. Sorry your having a hard time keeping up. Move on to a basketball thread, maybe you can keep up there.

  15. BluKudzu
    9:32 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Our defense is statistically worse now than during the Joker era. Remember, this includes a game that did not finish because the team quit on Joker.
    Add to that the final humiliating loss against vandy in an empty stadium.
    Puts Stoops record and stats in perspective from a bad coach and bad program to a bad coach beating sub talent sub football programs.
    Call it what you want, the defense is not getting better, and we are getting just smoke and mirrors.

    • Alex90
      9:54 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

      Lets look at the average wins per season under both. Stoops is just now getting 2-3 deep at positions, which is needed in the SEC.

    • notFromhere
      3:36 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Kudzu in the brain. Devoid of reason

  16. USMC5150
    10:48 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Joker wins/losses “blowouts” vs Stoops Wins and Losses…Stoops hasn’t made Kentucky a top ten team thus far but Kentucky has a solid foundation now.

  17. dylangeorge7988
    11:02 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Oh give me a break! Joker Phillips (who I admit was a huge supporter of at first) had Danny Trevathan, Avery Williamson, Mister Cobble, Winston Guy, Ricky Lumpkin and a slew of other SEC level defenders left over from Brooks his first season- he then proceeded to nosedive the program the next three years and recruit D2 talent.

    It was so bad it took Stoops 5 years to finally produce a middle of the pack SEC level defense in terms of talent. This article is hogwash and leave it to our TMZ esque “reporter” Tyler Thompson to rip off the Leader and reiterate a poorly cited and perception lacking article.

    Just like her knee jerking last year to Ware and a trash can as if it was the crime of the century- she’s always blasting the football program and yet writes no article with any depth of opinion on the subject.

    You people need to wake up and smell the coffee! The SEC is so much stronger than it was 6-7 years ago and yet we’ve gone 4-4 back to back seasons now. A few of those wins that would have been losses before being a direct result of heightened talent on defense.

    Go read another NBA Summer league drivel article while the real fans get ready football.

    • notFromhere
      3:34 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      That ROCKED, Dylan. 100% with ya

    • USMC5150
      6:42 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      I agree 100%

    • cats646
      8:15 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Right there with ya Dylan.

    • 3dcatfan
      8:35 pm July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Then why has everyone been saying we wasted a lot of golden opportunities the last few yrs because some of the teams were down. Look at the coaching turnovers in the East alone. The SEC overall has been down the last few yrs compared to the previous 8-10 yrs. I believe Stoops is the 2nd longest tenured coach in the SEC, what’s that tell you about how well the other teams have been doing?

  18. TBW3011
    11:32 pm July 10, 2018 Permalink

    Yeah. I have eyes. Not exactly breaking news.

  19. notFromhere
    3:33 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

    Not eye-opening stats if you have been watching and understand football.

  20. notFromhere
    4:11 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

    Numbers alone are bullshirt and Story knows it. He’s just triggering clueless FB “fans” to get clicks. Might as well write this one for Yahoo.

    HC Jokers offenses got how many drives past the 50?

    Yeah. When the opponent only has to go 60 yards to score a TD, or better yet, the offense gifts them a defensive score (pre-Stoops), vs the opponent having to drive the length of the field for a field goal, who will have worse stats? Think about it for a while.

    When a team scores quickly, what then happens? The other team GETS THE BALL.

    The difference between finishing at the top of the SEC East with less recruited talent ON PAPER than almost every other SEC East team that’s been at the top previously, and where we are now is a solid, 2-3 deep DL. That’s not Stoops’ strength.

    His strength so far is getting more out of his team than he and his staff should. It’s making up for the dearth up front with the LB and secondary units. It’s putting his offense in a position to win and being a couple WR short of doing so.

    Everyone focuses on what didn’t work to make the loss and never fathom what was done to make the game close to begin with when it shouldn’t be. THAT’S UK FOOTBALL’S BIGGEST PROBLEM.

      7:39 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      No, UK footballs biggest problem is we can’t win “the big one”. Don’t come at me with our win at Louisville because of Jackson’s fumble – he lost that game for U of L, UK didn’t win. T
      Stoops is a choke artist that got gifted a kneejerk contract extension when he should have been gone last year.

    • cats646
      8:17 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Wrong Brian.

    • TBW3011
      8:58 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      He’s not wrong about the knee jerk contract extension. Mitch is the king of those.

    • cats646
      8:22 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      We definitely won the Louisville game. Look at the record book.

    7:36 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

    Biggest “no duh” article ever written. Matt Elam is the poster boy for Stoops Defense. Overhyped, overpromised and constantly underperforming. Welcome to another 5-6 maybe 6-6 season of mediocrity and an invite to another Music City Bowl…

    • cats646
      8:28 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      You’re right about Elam and our defense underperforming. But I think we will win more than 6. I think we would be better in a 4-3 instead of a 3-4. Hopefully we will switch to that this year.

  22. KyZoneBlitz
    8:34 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

    Well, I’m my humble opinion, the reason Joker didn’t give up more yards per game is because the other coaches and teams knew we had talent equal to a steaming dumpster with 90% of our team, so they ran bland play after bland play saving their better stuff for tougher opponents. Stoops has increased Talent level by a WIDE margin, on both sides of the ball, and it’s not even remotely close. The ONLY major problem TO ME, had been missing on high level Dlineman, remember, Matt Elam was supposed to be a monster from the second he signed, but instead, he needed a red-shirt year, and some veteran guys to learn under before getting his feet wet, he was thrown into the fire after Lewis went down with a broken ankle 3-4 games into the season. That’s a setback, Javon Provitt looked to be a force on the line, never qualified, we’ve had elite players at both the LB and 2ndary, but without a serious Dline, it doesn’t matter as much, plus teams aren’t just running up the middle every single play, they are mixing it together. I think McCall from Michigan, along with Bohanna at Nose, and Paschal at SDE. Middleton back up to 300, Dubose better late to the party than never. Agile Abadi-Fitz, Jordan Wright, Carter, Looney, Calvin Taylor, Chris Whittaker, wevengot some bodies With a ton of twitch, explosion and athleticism. With this group this year, maybe we’ve got something, maybe something that can help build rotation, and a foundation for the future.

    • cats646
      8:41 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

      Great comment. I hope you’re right!!

  23. cats646
    8:37 am July 11, 2018 Permalink

    MARK STOOPS IS A GOOD COACH!!!! Is he the best? No. Is he getting us where we need to be as a program? So far, absolutely. He has progressed from back to back 2-10, to back to back 7-5 in just five years. His recruiting is absolutely incredible! Now if we regress this year, then I can understand if some of you want to get rid of him. But he has done better than any coach in recent UK history. So open your damn eyes people!! Go big blue!!!!!!!