Kentucky defense prepares for season opener, 6’7 CMU quarterback


Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen runs out of the tunnel carrying the American flag prior to the game against Tennessee at Kroger Field on Saturday, October 28, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 29 to 26. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Erika Bonner

As Kentucky prepares to take the field this weekend in their season opener against Central Michigan, defensive coordinator Matt House and several Wildcat defensive players spoke with the media Wednesday evening after practice.

Right now, it seems as though Kentucky’s defense is zoned in on preparing to face a 6’7 quarterback, and a unanimous All-MAC first-team preseason selection running back in Jonathon Ward.

“They’ve got an explosive back in number 5 (Ward), a really good player. An experienced offensive line coming back, guys who have played. A quarterback that’s an athlete, and has kind of developed into the system,” House said of Central Michigan’s offense. “I think the offensive coordinator does a good job of mixing the run and pass, trying to keep you on your heels.”

Tony Poljan, CMU quarterback, played quite a bit last year, and Kentucky’s defense was able to study and figure out the best way to face him.

“Leverage, tackling, and explosive plays with discipline really determines the outcome of these games,” House said. “Is he different than tackling another quarterback? Absolutely. But just in general we’re going to have to tackle well to be successful.”

Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen predicts that that Poljan will throw the ball high, and Allen says that’s to Kentucky’s advantage.

As far as Ward goes, Allen thinks the defense is well prepared for him, saying, “I feel like we got better as a defense, I feel like we’re prepared to go up against somebody like that. We play against the best running back in the SEC every day, so I feel like we get the looks every day.”

Earlier this week, Ward said to the media he didn’t know who Kentucky running back Benny Snell was, and in response, Snell said “I’m a back-to-back 1,000 yard rusher in the SEC, my play speaks for itself.” On Wednesday, Kash Daniel was asked about Ward’s comment, and said he didn’t care about it.

“We’ll do our talking on the field,” Daniel said.