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Playmakers are Coming from an Unlikely Place

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It took one play for preseason expectations to be validated – the offensive playmakers can do things we haven’t seen here in a long time.

It’s hard to top Boom’s 75-yard score, but even so, the explosive plays have been fewer and further in between.  Sometimes Patrick misses a little long or a little short; sometimes his receivers simply drop the ball, or slow down at the end of their routes; many times last week, the line simply didn’t give the offense the opportunity to make the big play.  Whatever the cause may be, it’s been gone since the first half at South Carolina.

While the offense has struggled, the defense has excelled.  A perceived preseason weakness has kept the Cats close late in games.  They’ve won two of the three close games, with much thanks going out to the defense.  They just didn’t get the big play they needed from the offense this week.

“We’re all disappointed in the outcome,” Stoops said.  “Nobody is more disappointed than them and the coaching staff, but the good thing is that we were in a position to win the game, we just didn’t make the plays.”

The defense has made the plays, from veterans to freshmen.  Chris Westry’s interception saved the game at South Carolina.  Denzil Ware’s scoop and score on the 2-point conversion will be remembered for awhile, even though his defense on a throwback against Florida went unnoticed and probably saved a touchdown.  Nobody has been a more pleasant surprise than JD Harmon, not just deflecting passes and catching interceptions, but making impressive open-field tackles.

You’ve probably heard the saying often, “they bent, but did not break.”  That’s all well and good, but it’s best defined statistically.  Virtually all of UK’s statistics are identical to their opponents, except for three categories.

First Downs

  • UK = 51
  • Opponents = 66

Third Down

  • UK = 15/46, 33%
  • Opponents = 11/40, 28%

While the offense on third down is the exact same as it was in 2014, the defense has drastically stepped up.  Last year they allowed their opponent to convert on 48% of its third downs, a 15% drop through three games.

Red Zone Defense 

  • UK = 9/9, 5 for touchdowns
  • Opponents = 8/11, 4 touchdowns

No matter how well opposing offenses move the ball, if UK puts them behind the chains and forces them into “do or die” situations, Stoops’ Troops are winning one-on-one battles.

There’s plenty of room to improve on both sides of the ball, but it’s encouraging to have a defense that can keep the team in games, no matter how far they’re backed into a corner.

Article written by Nick Roush

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

3 Comments for Playmakers are Coming from an Unlikely Place



  1. NostraDanis
    9:34 pm September 22, 2015 Permalink

    I think the defense is exceeding expectations because of the head coach. Remember, Stoops is a defensive guy – he knows what he’s doing on that side of the ball; so much so that he has moved through the coaching ranks pretty quickly (of course his name didn’t hurt). He had very impressive stats regarding how his defenses have improved everywhere he has coached.

    CMS knows how to make guys better on that side of the ball, particularly in the defensive backfield. Notice how some of the guys from CJP’s time have become better than we thought they could be since Stoops arrived. Unfortunately it seems, he has to be more reliant on the OC and offensive coaches for player development on their side of the ball.



    • Oh my
      7:00 am September 23, 2015 Permalink

      Harmon was a walk on of Jokers. Absolutely nothing to do with Stoops knowing what he is doing



  2. John Sower
    10:11 pm September 22, 2015 Permalink

    I am a life long UK fan, but the stats are skewed in UK’s favor in comparison to last year because we have not entered the tough part of the season: Auburn, at Miss. St., TN, at G etc. GO CATS!