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Kentucky’s defense getting high praise

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As they should...

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats defense ranked No. 2 in the country in pass defense, No. 14 in scoring defense, and No. 21 in total defense. In a year after losing one of the best to ever do it on that side of the ball in Lexington, Josh Allen, it was somewhat of a surprise to some that the defense seemed even better as a complete unit.

Forward to the 2020 season, and the Wildcats will return eight starters to the defense. They are also adding transfer star Kelvin Joseph to the secondary. By all accounts, this year’s defensive unit should be improved from a year ago, and some are starting to notice how special this group could be.

Saturday Down South has ranked Kentucky as having the No. 3 defense in the SEC, behind only Alabama and Georgia. That is certainly high praise, as much of the SEC is built on having a strong defense.

“That’s right. Kentucky at No. 3. Think that’s crazy? It’s not,” wrote Connor O’Gara of Saturday Down South. “The casual fan might have missed last year when Kentucky finished No. 4 in the SEC and No. 14 nationally in scoring. That was after it entered the season ranked No. 127 (!) in percentage of returning defensive production. This year, the Cats are No. 27 in that department. Of the top 15 defenses from 2019, only 11 rank in the top 50 in terms of percentage of returning defensive production.”

In Brad White’s second season as defensive coordinator in Lexington, he has the talent to put one of Kentucky’s best defenses ever on the field each Saturday. If you add that to an offense that should be more versatile and healthy than a year ago, it’s a recipe for yet another special season for Mark Stoops and company.

Read the rest of the Saturday Down South piece here as O’Gara breaks down every defense in the league.