The question is, did we learn anything about the Kentucky football team after Saturday's defeat of Kent State? I would say we learned quite a bit, some good and some bad.
First, we learned that our offensive line is still not ready for the SEC regular season. Although they were quite good when run blocking, allowing Woodson to get sacked four times by a fairly ordinary defensive line is not what we would want to see. I realize that Kent State has a good secondary, but four sacks is reminiscent of last year's porous pass protection. If we want to see Woodson all year, the pass blocking around here is going to have to improve, and that right soon.
Second, we learned that our run defense is vulnerable. Although Kentucky has always struggled with option teams, I can't figure out why with the linebacking corps we have. But it seems that if you want to run roughshod over the Wildcats, run the option.
Third, Kentucky is a big-play team. This should surprise nobody, but against Louisville next week this fact will be particularly significant given the Cardinal's defense's propensity for allowing big plays. The only drives UK had longer than 6 plays was it's first of the game and the first drive of the third quarter.
Big play teams have a serious disadvantage that many people don't realize. Against a ball-control team like Kent, the defense spends far too much time on the field. If you look at Kent State's drives, you'll find that 5 of their drives went longer than 6 plays. Time of possession: Kent had the ball 60% of the time. That means our defense was on the field 60% of the game.
Fourth, we have learned so far that Kentucky values the football. We have had virtually no turnovers so far this year, and even against inferior competition, that is impressive. We took the ball away from Kent no less than 4 times, and took advantage of a known weakness -- Kent averaged over 2 turnovers per game last year.
Fifth, our kickoff game continues to impress. Mastay is putting the ball in the end zone, and when he doesn't, our coverage is solid. Plus, our kickoff return game is starting to show up better. Our punt returns are another matter, though.
Sixth, Jacob Tamme is being underutilized. With only 3 receptions so far, we have to find a way to get him the ball more often. I think this will happen as our competition gets tougher and our wide receivers see better coverage.
Seventh, allowing 453 total yards against a fairly weak opponent is not acceptable. Yes, it could be that we just play the option poorly, but if Steve Brown is anything other than pissed at the defense, he may have a short stint as DC. Kent State is a ball-control team, and they played that part of their game perfectly against us. If their quarterback were less susceptible to giving the ball to the opposition, the game would have likely been much closer.
Eighth, our red zone conversion is as good as it gets - 100% in 2 games. That's sweet, but it will be hard to maintain as the competition improves.
Ninth, 4 sacks in two games against weak comp is not something to be proud of. The injuries to D-liners Lumpkin and Pryor make this statistic unlikely to improve against Louisville, but if it doesn't, getting McClinton and Jones back in our secondary will not be enough.
Finally, if we are giving up 327 yards/game in total offense to the weak part of our schedule, what happens when the #1 offensive team in the country, namely that red and black school 60 miles west of Lexington roll into Commonwealth Stadium? Yes, 327 is a far cry from the 450 we gave up per game last year, but consider the comp.
In sum, Kentucky's defense must show up Saturday or it won't matter what the offense does. As good as Woodson and Co. are, I don't personally believe they can put more points on the scoreboard than Louisville.