UK football’s defense has potential next season


Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen Runs out of the tunnel before the game against the Florida Gators on Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky was defeated 28-27. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

It may be early, but the possibilities of what UK football’s defense can accomplish next year are intriguing.

After Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, Jordan Jones and Denzil Ware all decided to return to Kentucky for their senior seasons, the defense is not shy about what they could accomplish next season.

“Since I’ve been up here, we haven’t been to an SEC Championship and that’s one thing I want to go to,” Edwards said of what the goal is for next season. “Just win more games than we can win, especially all us returners except for one starter.”

The only defensive starter UK will lose is Courtney Love, who finished as UK’s second leading tackler with 92 total tackles. Love was valued for his talent on the field, but where UK will really miss him is his leadership.

However, Allen is not worried about the new leadership roles since the starting lineup for the defense will be mostly comprised of seniors.

“I feel like we have that now, with me, Mike (Edwards,) Denzil (Ware), (Derrick) Baity, Lonnie (Johnson),” Allen said. “We’re preparing to be ready, I feel like we are taking the right steps to do that.”

Most of the time a unit is led by one particular individual, like what Love was for the Cats last season. In Allen’s opinion, UK needs more than one leader on the field in order to be successful.

“We can’t just have two or three leaders on the defense, we got to have multiple – every position have a leader, not just somebody who does good in games,” Allen said.

Another way the Cats can take a big step is to improve the secondary that struggled to contain offenses near the end of the season. While UK won’t lose any prominent member of its secondary, they still hope to involve the younger players to provide depth for Edwards, Baity and Johnson.

“Having four senior starters right now in the secondary plays a big part in the young guys that look up to us,” Edwards said.

Edwards cited Jordan Griffin, Tyrell Ajian and Yusef Corker as players who could step up for the secondary. The Cats also return Davonte Robinson and Cedrick Dort who saw small amounts of playing time throughout the 2017 season.

Despite the potential the defense has, they still know they have to work to prove that they can be a respectable unit. However, Allen didn’t return to UK just to be around Lexington, he came back to be a part of a special defense, and Allen believes there is a chance of that happening.

“Everybody wants to get it done now cause it’s our last time, it’s hard to say you going to wait till the last time to get it, but you got to get it now,” Allen said. “All around the board, we are going to be solid, and I just wanted to be apart of that.”