UK’s defense needs to return in order to get back on track


The Kentucky defense celebrates after a fourth down stop during the game against the University of Florida on Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky was defeated 28-27. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Many things need to be corrected following a 38-point loss coming off a bye week, but the first place to start for UK football is their defense.

After the defense had been the Cats’ strength in its first five games, the unit gave up 38 points and 282 rushing yards to Mississippi State, which contributed to their second loss of the season.

The 282 rushing yards was the most UK had given up this year, after giving up 213 rushing yards and 34 points two weeks ago against Missouri. The only thing that saved UK against Missouri was the offense’s ability to score 40 points, but that offense was only able to come up with one touchdown against the Bulldogs. 

The offense will likely return to its efficient form, as they have multiple weapons capable of making big plays at any time. If UK wants to get back in the win column and prove to everyone that they are the real deal, they need their defense to come back.

In games where opponents rushed for under 62-yards and scored less than 20 points, the Cats are 4-0. However, the moment UK’s opponents rush for over 100 yards and score at least 28 points, UK is 1-2.

The Cats could also afford to prevent big plays, something they hoped to do after the Missouri game. The Cats gave up many long rushes to Mississippi State, including two 40-yard rushing touchdowns, one of which from the elusive Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.

The defense did show some signs of life, like Josh Allen’s batted down pass on fourth and two late in the third quarter.

That gave UK a chance to get back into the game trailing by 17, but three plays later, Stephen Johnson threw and interception, which eventually turned into a Mississippi State touchdown.

Many knew that today’s game would be a battle between Mississippi State’s strong rushers versus UK’s national ranked rushing defense, and ultimately, UK was beaten badly.

Getting outperformed by a strong rushing offense on the road isn’t something to be ashamed of, but the final score and the way the Cats looked on Saturday is what will keep fans hesitant on fully investing into UK football.

If the Cats want to prevent future losses from appearing on their schedule and win over the fan base completely, they need to get back to stopping opponents’ run-game. If they can do so, they’ll become eligible for a bowl game sooner rather than later.