Mark Stoops has rebuilt the Kentucky football program and, in some ways, taken the Wildcats to places some never imagined. With four consecutive winning seasons and four straight bowl appearances, including back to back victories, the Wildcats have established themselves as a formidable SEC opponent.
However, some believe the ceiling is lowered for this program by the style of football they play. Kentucky has found success behind a solid defense and a strong running game. That has been the foundation of SEC football since the 1990’s. But looking around the landscape now and watching the most successful teams, is that what a championship-level team looks like in 2020?
The Alabama Crimson Tide has won five national championships since Nick Saban arrived in 2007. He was always the biggest proponent of smash mouth football, sometimes to a fault. But even potentially the greatest coach ever had to adjust his strategy with the times.
In a recent interview, Saban clarified how important he believes it is to adapt and grow as a program. In what works in today’s college game, he said, “I do think the days of playing great defense and winning are probably behind us.”
Nick Saban: “I do think the days of playing great defense and winning are probably behind us [in college football]."— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 20, 2020
We have seen the Kentucky defense rank among top teams nationally in the last couple of years. The Wildcats have dominated the time of possession in most games. But that still has not translated to wins over top SEC teams. Each year, we hear Eddie Gran talk about “opening up the offense.” But when the game gets tight each Saturday, we get a heavy dose of third down draws and RPO’s.
Nick Saban saying out loud that football has changed should be the final proof, if anyone need more, that Kentucky’s style of football is not going to take them to the next level. It is time to bring the Wildcat offense into the 21st century, focus on recruiting some top receivers, and build an offense designed around scoring points instead of owning the clock.
That is the only way Kentucky is going to have a chance to win an SEC Championship. Do you think it is a change we will see with Stoops at the helm?