Scouting Kentucky Defense and Special Teams

Kentucky has made progress defensively under Rich Brooks and had several outstanding performances last year. The best of the team came in a near upset of Alabama (17-14). However the Wildcats also saw Florida score 63, Georgia 42 and even offensively challenged teams like Vandy (31) and Tennessee (28) had success against them.

So far this season Kentucky has shut out Miami (Ohio) and won a fairly high scoring game with Louisville 31-27. In that one Kentucky surrendered 20 second half points and Louisville amassed 378 yards of total offense. Like the offense, the defense has a few top players you have to account for, but not a large number of them.

Up front they are led by DT Corey Peters who is somewhat similar to Tennessee's Dan Williams, but not as good. Still Peters is a solid force4 in the middle of the line and teamed with Ricky Lumpkin they do a good job of holding their ground. That ability will be challenges when they match up with James Wilson and the Pouncey family. The ends are bigger, more physical and less speedy than most teams have. DeQuinn Evans is another junior college guy and leads the team with two sacks.

At LB Micah Johnson is still there for what seems like his seventh season. He's a good player and big (6-2, 260). He doesn't have great sideline-to-sideline speed and misdirection is often effective against him. However he's a strong physical guy that will be in on plenty of tackles. The outside guys Sam Maxwell and Danny Trevathan are solid but don't make a lot of big plays.

The best player on the defense is unquestionably CB Trevard Lindley who surprised a lot of people by returning for his senior year. He's good – not Eric Berry good, but an almost certain first rounder and that's plenty good enough. Florida would be well advised to pick on the other corner. FS Winston Guy is very active, but the fact that he leads the team in tackles is not a good thing for this unit. Kentucky has made progress trying to get more speed in the back line but they're not there yet. Of course depending on who's available for the Gators that may not matter as much.

Overall this is a decent, well coached defense but their best player in each unit is not as good as the guy Florida faced in that spot last week. I would expect them to try and crowd the line of scrimmage and challenge Florida's receivers to get open.

Wildcats Special Teams ----

Derrick Locke is a great kickoff return man with a hundred yard TD this year and a 30.3 average on the other three he's run back. Florida's kicking game has to be at its best and keep him from springing a long one. Randall Cobb is much less dangerous on punt returns (7.0) and has not had a return over 20 yards in two years of trying (15 returns). Their coverage has been solid just as it was last year.

Place kicker Lones Seiber is just ok. He's 39-65 for his Kentucky career and does not have a long leg. Punter Ryan Tydlacka actually tried the long FG last year making 3-of-6. Tydlacka is pretty ordinary as a punter (40.1), but that's an improvement over last year (37.1) in part time duty.

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Last season Florida overwhelmed Kentucky 63-5, taking a 28-0 lead in the first 12 minutes of the game. You may recall the Gators blocked consecutive Kentucky punts in the opening quarter leading to scoring drives of one and three yards for the first two scores.

It shouldn't be that east this time around, but Florida is a clearly superior football team. How the game plays out may depend on the Gators' health as much as anything else.

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