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Eliot knows stopping Mullens, Smith will not be easy

D.J. Eliot (Vicky Graff Photo)

D.J. Eliot (Vicky Graff Photo)


Southern Mississippi’s Nick Mullens could be the best quarterback that Kentucky will face this season. He’s one of the nation’s most productive returning quarterbacks and certainly will test the UK defense Saturday night.

“I think along with having a very accurate arm, he makes very good decisions. He manages the game well. He knows the situations,” Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “He knows what to do with the ball, and so he’s not only an excellent passer. He’s also an excellent decision maker.”

Eliot said he can’t remember facing another quarterback quite like Mullens.

“He’s still effective in the run game, too. He’s pulled it a few times and gotten some good yards. He’s effective running the ball and scrambles well at times, too. And on top of that, he’s an excellent passer that makes good decisions. I can’t think of anybody offhand who he reminds me of,” Eliot said

The Eagles also have a proven running back in Ito Smith.

“He’s more a slasher type. He finds a hole and hits it. He’s a guy that he’s not going to dance. He’s going to make his decision and hit it hard,” Eliot said.

“He was very effective last year along with the senior they graduated. He’s a veteran player. He’s been there before. He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s had success, so he’s a guy that we’re going to have to corral and get a lot of hats on. Make sure that he doesn’t get going.”


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  1. Freddie Maggard has said that Mullens is the best QB that UK will face this year. However, little has been said about Ito Smith. Last year in 14 games, he gained 1128 yards with an average of 6.6 yds/carry. In addition, Ito gained another 515 yards receiving with and average 10.5 yds/catch.

    I do not know about USM’s O-Line this year compared to last, but these two players will test this UK defense in game 1.

    1. Mullens is good but he is not he best UK face this year. Just look up the road about 90 miles west and consider Lamar Jackson. He gets my vote.

  2. The problem with a QB like Mullins is that not only does he know the situations but he is patient. He’s just not going to sling the ball for the sake of slinging it. A friend of mine who goes to the SM games says that Mullins likes to wear out a defense mentally. IE, frustration. My guess is that they will start out slow and poke around to find our weaknesses. Hopefully we won’t have any weaknesses. After all they are a FCS team. Anyone who believes that I want to talk to about a bridge I know for sale that crosses the East River in NY….

    1. RJ Southern Miss is not an FCS team they are an FBS team out of the West Div. of conf. USA.

  3. Seriously, has Eliot shown that it was easy to stop anyone since he came aboard?

  4. Name me any team of any consequence that Southern Mississippi beat last year. Any team from the Power 5 that they played, rolled them. Cats by at least two touchdowns.

  5. Well they were pretty competitive against Nebraska losing 36-28.. They won 9 games and were the West Div. Conf. USA Champs. Don’t kid yourself, this is a quality opponent. Yes UK should win, but look at the UT game last night. Appalachian State gave them all they wanted.

  6. No question that USM had a really good season in 2015, and they return the QB and a very fine RB. However, look at their performance in 2012, 2013, and 2014. On one hand, 2015 indicates a program on the rise, but it may also be a fluke season for a team that has not done well at all in recent years.

    I believe USM will give UK a test. I believe that the Cats will win this in the end by 7 to 14 points. However, if this is a single digit game, my concern about getting 6 wins this season will heighten, and if the Cats win my 17 or more, my anticipation will rise to the 7-8 win range. Last night, Tennessee was lack luster at best, but they will improve quickly and be much stronger in the weeks ahead than they showed last night. Vanderbilt and USC both looked very weak, and I believe UK can and should beat each of them this season. That gets the probable win total to 5, leaving Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, and Florida for the magic #6 win. Missouri is the most likely win in this group, followed by Mississippi State. The games at Florida and at Tennessee will be tough to get W’s unless this UK team is much stronger than we have seen in recent years.

    1. No doubt USM has had some lean years as you mentioned, but traditionally they have been a solid football program with great football tradition and pride.They have beaten Alabama in the past. They have produced some good pros. in Ray Guy and Bret Farve to name a couple. The Rock is a great football venue. I do believe UK should not take them lightly as some fans are. I don’t believe UK will. Yeah, I look for a UK win, but things happen when UK is involved in a football game if the past is any indication.

  7. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Cats should have won three more games than it did last season but folded. On paper is a world away from on the field. This game scares me. If the Cats are ready to play we CAN win. But if not, it will turn out to be a embarrassment like UT almost ran in to last night.

  8. I think everyone is in for a surprise. We’ll manhandle them on the offensive side of the ball. CATS by 15.

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