For the first time in a long time, we saw the Kentucky football team do a variety of things well, the kind of little things that ensure victory. Some things, like coming back from a halftime deficit, had never happened before under Stoops. Others were just well overdue.
Long, Sustained Drives
“We need some LSD!” is not a drug reference. It’s what my high school play-caller used to say at the end of games. There have been many problems this season, but the absence of long, sustained scoring drives has backed the struggling defense into a corner.
Against South Carolina Kentucky finally found a way to string together some first downs, scoring on a 12-play drive and an 11-play drive that proved to be the game-winner. It was the first time the Cats have been able to string together multiple double-digit play scoring drives in 2016. The last time it happened was vs. Louisville in 2015.
Without Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky only recorded more than two sacks once last season. Just like Saturday, the defense sacked Charlotte’s QB four times last November. Four sacks is the most against an SEC opponent since 2008 vs. Miss. State.
Sacks by a Defensive Lineman
Three of the team’s four sacks came from the D-Line; two attributed to Denzil Ware and another split between Naquez Pringle and Alvonte Bell. It was the first time we saw a sack by a defensive lineman this season, the first sack by a defensive lineman in five games.
As a point of comparison, when Bud and Z were on the defensive line in 2014 Kentucky had three or more sacks in five games.
Tackles for Loss
The Cats’ six tackles for loss were surprisingly not a season-high, recording nine vs. Southern Miss
Kentucky held South Carolina to 91 rushing yards. The last time the Cats held an opponent under 100 rushing yards was 15 games ago in the 2014 season finale at Louisville when the Cards rushed for only 84 yards.
Wesley Woodyard on the Sideline
The last time Woodyard was on the sidelines, Kentucky beat Florida State 35-28. Coincidence? I think not.
Allowed Less than 300 Yards
The Kentucky defense gave up more than 500 yards of offense in every game of 2016 until they held South Carolina’s offense to only 268. Kentucky only held two teams under 300 yards of offense in 2015 — Charlotte and Florida.
Scored 20 or Less and Won
UK usually has to score at least 24 points to have a shot at victory. Coincidentally, it’s been 24 games since Kentucky won a game by scoring less than 20 points. Their defense stood strong to get a W against Vanderbilt in September of 2014. That win over Vandy was the last time UK held an opponent under 10 points.