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Kentucky Football: Rating The Offense And Defense Performances

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How does UK's offense and defense stack up so far this season, and how does that compare to the rest of the SEC?

Andy Lyons

The Kentucky offense is better this year but it's not necessarily reflected in the adjusted stats to this point. I'm going to use S&P+ to show how the offense has looked week-to-week (keep in mind preseason rankings are decreasingly factored in until Week 7). UK's Offensive S&P+ rank is currently 85th, but it has slid down almost twenty spots since the Florida game. This is due to UK's offensive performance since then, along with other teams rising and falling, and it is also a reflection of how UK's previous opponents have performed since UK played them. In 2013, UK's offense was actually ranked higher (81st), but last year's score of 92.9 is lower than this year's suggesting offensive performances are up overall.

Year

Off. S&P+

Rk

Success Rate

Rk

IsoPPP

Rk

S&P

Rk

Rushing S&P

Rk

Passing S&P

Rk

Std. Downs S&P

Rk

Pass. Downs S&P

Rk

2013

92.9

81

Thru 9/13 Games

98.1

66

39.20%

68

1.04

38

0.522

64

0.774

45

0.823

66

0.82

67

0.757

40

Thru 9/20 Games

98.1

69

39.20%

70

1.04

33

0.522

59

0.508

45

0.534

66

0.527

61

0.518

47

Thru 9/27 Games

96.7

85

43.00%

68

0.85

66

0.513

67

0.507

51

0.523

70

0.522

78

0.507

48

Despite UK's slide down the rankings, the biggest drops have come from explosiveness (IsoPPP) and efficiency on standard downs (1st-and-10, 2nd -and-7 or less, 3rd -and-4 or less). The explosiveness may have been too high post-Florida game - it's still too early in the season to know - but the efficiency on standard downs is apparent in UK's inconsistency running the ball in short-yardage situations.

UK's offense is clearly better than last season's iteration, and is probably a good twenty slots higher in the overall rankings than it is currently. The improvement specifically comes from a far better performances on passing downs. UK may get behind the chains at times, but makes up for that with occasional big plays. Good defenses will prevent  those type of completions, so UK must improve its success on standard downs going forward.

UK is ranked 13th in the SEC, with Vandy having a rating similar to UK's last season. I do think UK's offense is better than its rankings have shown to this point. Heading into the teeth of the schedule, the offense will have the opportunity to prove that.

Team

Off. S&P+

Rk (Overall)

Mississippi State

129.3

2

Alabama

123.8

6

Arkansas

123.4

7

Georgia

123

8

LSU

120.2

10

Auburn

120.1

11

Ole Miss

118.7

12

Texas A&M

118.5

15

Florida

115.6

21

South Carolina

115.6

22

Tennessee

104.2

51

Missouri

101.8

63

Kentucky

96.7

85

Vanderbilt

92.1

102

Now let's look at the defense. It is significantly better from last season, and has steadily improved the last two weeks. It is ranked 13th in the country in preventing big plays (IsoPPP), while the rush and pass defense have all improved as the season has progressed. Good thing too, because this weekend UK faces the best offense it has to date. South Carolina will have a better backfield, offensive line, and quarterback than any team UK has faced yet. Arguably, a better set of receivers too. The Florida game was considered a "measuring stick" for the UK program, but this upcoming game against South Carolina can be considered a measuring stick for UK's defense.

Year

Def. S&P+

Rk

Success Rate

Rk

IsoPPP

Rk

S&P

Rk

Rushing S&P

Rk

Passing S&P

Rk

Std. Downs S&P

Rk

Pass. Downs S&P

Rk

2013

92.4

98

Thru 9/20

101

61

37.10%

67

0.75

13

0.448

42

0.442

63

0.466

35

0.453

36

0.493

83

Thru 9/27

108

42

35.40%

30

0.67

13

0.418

12

0.425

29

0.415

13

0.439

14

0.417

35

UK is right in the middle-of-the-pack in the SEC in terms of defensive ranking. Some of the team's ranked higher have faced much better offenses than UK has, and that likely helps to explain why they are ranked higher. A strong performance against South Carolina's offense (ranked 22nd overall) would certainly boost UK along with strong Vanderbilt and Florida offensive performances on Saturday.

Team

Off. S&P+

Rk (Overall)

Ole Miss

135.2

2

Alabama

130.9

6

LSU

126.9

8

MSU

122.6

10

Auburn

122.5

11

Texas A&M

117.1

14

Tennessee

114.1

20

Missouri

112

26

SCAR

109.9

34

Kentucky

108

42

Georgia

105.8

44

Arkansas

105.8

45

Florida

101.5

63

Vanderbilt

101.5

64

It's probably premature to judge the merits of preseason assumptions of either UK's offense or defense. They look better, and there is cause for hope, but there are more games to be played to prove that is the case.