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It’s time for Kentucky to show defensive improvement under Mark Stoops

Linebacker Jordan Jones is one of the players expected to make the UK defense better this season. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Believe it or not, this is Mark Stoops’ sixth season as Kentucky’s head football coach. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago he gave up being defensive coordinator at Florida State to take over here after Joker Phillips was fired, but it has been.

And it’s time to see some better results defensively from UK.

No longer can anyone blame Phillips’ poor recruiting or coaching for UK’s plight. This team was all recruited by Stoops. No longer can anyone complain about UK’s subpar facilities. The Cats have a practice facility on par with other SEC teams.

No one can whine about coaching salaries. Athletics director Mitch Barnhart is paying Stoops’ staff well and just gave most of them contract extensions.

Stoops is supposed to be a defensive whiz but his teams at Kentucky just have not been that good defensively and having Denzil Ware transfer will not help.

But it’s time to see a better organized, better tackling, smarter defensive team. Make plays. Get off the field. Don’t fail to recover receivers and give up easy scores. Don’t give up 200 yards or more rushing.

In year six, that’s not too much to ask from a defensive guru, is it?

19 comments

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  1. You are spot on it Larry V, it’s past time to see a UK defense that can stop somebody. Stoops has not lived up to the hype thus far, and it is now year six.

  2. Larry, thanks for expressing what numerous other UK fans have been saying
    for the last couple of years, especially after the loss to FL last season!
    Jim Porter

  3. Stoops was good when he had lots of 4 and 5 star recruits, but not so hot when he has 3 and 4 star recruits. Player development and game planning is different and Stoops has not figured that out.

    1. The head coach has very little to do with the development or the nuts and bolts coaching of individual players (but you knew that !)

  4. As the saying goes “you work with what you got”,
    Unfortunately. UK has very little from which to choose, There are maybe 60 players coming out of the states high school programs who may, MAY be able to play at the ncaa, division one level (in ’15 or ’16 that number was 59) The vast majority of those found homes in conferences like the Sunbelt or the mid-South,
    A small handful went on to schools that populate the Big 10, the SEC, or the Big 12.
    States like Georgia, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and California on the other hand, produce kids to fill there home state rosters by the 100’s. If the kid wasn’t chosen by the program in his home state THEN he considers Kentucky (maybe).That is exactly how Randall Cobb found his way to Lexington He was rated as a two star recruit!!
    Boyle County had a kid who looked like a can’t miss college prospect (can’t even remember his name any longer) who spurned UK and chose USC (the west coast version). What happened ? He was a “Kentucky Boy” and was never heard from again. The really good ones, like the kid from Madison County, go elsewhere, the Matt Elam’s stay home
    It’ll not change anytime soon regardless of the coach or the coaching.
    The point here is that UK has been playing from behind since what’s his name left for Alabama. The HS programs in the Commonwealth aren’t producing nearly enough quality players, One man and five years ain’t going to change that………………….period ! We do have great couch coaches though and especially here, on Vaught’s View.

    1. Well PK, Louisville is in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and their football team is doing quite well, and has been forever it seems. I know they have UK’s number, and it pains me to admit it. So your argument don’t square. The head coach is responsible for every facet of his program. Stoops is supposed to be a defensive master mind, but the UK defense is not getting it done. The right coach can make a big difference with even less talent. Stoops can recruit, but I’m not convinced he can take this program to the top. Let’s just pretend here for a second or two that UK could hire a Nick Saban. I would almost bet my ranch that he could have UK playing winning football in no time. Certainly in 5 or 6 years.

      1. LP, it’s not just Louisville. Most years, especially lately, WKU could clean UK’s clock, and if not, at least be very competitive.

  5. Coach Claiborne’s teams began on the defensive side of the ball. Some have said that he succeeded defensively by finding his best athletes and putting them in defensive positions, and then building the offense with the remaining players. I don’t know if that is what he did or not, but I see no argument against his defensive results. Under 20 ppg nearly every season at UK.

    Yes, he offenses tended to struggle, but when the offense did click the team had good seasons.

    I believe Stoops must solve the defensive issues immediately, but my immediately goes back about 3 seasons from now.

  6. PK, that is true, but the HC has to put the pieces together.

  7. bigbluefans4uk.com/UK_Football/2017_Season/2017_Writings/05_How_Did_The_Defense_Stack_Up.html

    The short answer is not very good. You can read the details at the link.

  8. http://bigbluefans4uk.com/UK_Football/2017_Season/2017_Writings/06_How_Did_The_Offense_Stack_Up.html

    Here is a similar look at the 2017 offense. Not much better

  9. http://bigbluefans4uk.com/UK_Football/2017_Season/2017_Writings/07_How_Did_The_TEAM_Stack_Up.html

    It’s not just the offense, or just the defense, it is how competitive a team is in each of these categories. Using NET measures, UK does NOT stack up well against the SEC field, 14th in 3 of the 6 statistical categories, and 13th, 10th, and 8th in the other 3 categories.

    For Coach Stoops to make good on his hiring promise of SEC competitiveness, there must be substantial improvements on both sides of the ball. In my opinion, this is the fish or cut bait year of the Stoops Era.

    I am hoping that he and his team will get it done in 2018, but frankly I am not very optimistic that it will happen.

  10. PK….as in many of your posts, you don’t make a lot of sense. The coach and staff can and do make a difference. Wait and see what Pruitt and staff do at UT in next 2-3 yrs. Stoops got this job because of over whelming Barney with his interview skills, his family tree, and a good track record with higher rated players around him that apparently didn’t need a lot of development. Stoops has not developed defensive talent since he has been here. Is there any other coach in the country that gets paid more for losses than Stoops?

    1. You’re not worth a reply simply since you seem to be unable to read, or comprehend, or both!

  11. The coaching staff and their ability to recruit and develop has everything to do with success vs. lack of Kentucky talent. Reported today….we have the lowest rated chance of success in SEC this year…makes sense..we also have weakest coaching staff.

  12. The last two teams earned trips to bowl games, losing both. 2018 will be Coach Stoops’ sixth UK team and I am curious about the expectation level of fans for the 2018 team and season.

    1. How many wins will it take to secure Coach Stoops’ place as the UK coach of the future, without any questions about the job his has done and will do into the foreseeable future?

    2. How many wins will it take to maintain the status quo with respect to Coach Stoops’ position as head coach for 2019?

    3. How many losses will it take to put Coach Stoops on the proverbial “hot seat” with 2019 becoming a make or break year for his UK tenure?

    4. How many losses will it take for the fan base to demand a coaching change at UK after the 2018 season?

    I would like to see this straw poll of Vaughts Views readers before mid summer when the local chattering class begins its annual pre-season build up. Please copy and paste the following and add your responses into replies to this comment. I will be the first to provide my answers.

    Thanks in advance for all who play along.

    1. The Man. _________ or more Wins

    2. The Same. __________ or more Wins.

    3. Hot Seat _________ or more Losses.

    4. He’s Out _________ or more Losses.

    1. 1. The Man. 7 or more Wins

      2. The Same. 5 or more Wins.

      3. Hot Seat 8 or more Losses.

      4. He’s Out 9 or more Losses.

  13. 1. The Man. 6 or more Wins

    2. The Same. 5 or more Wins.

    3. The Hot Seat 6 or more losses.

    4. He’s Out 7 or more Losses.

    That said, I don’t think MB will fire him if the season goes south in 2018. He probably should if Stoops goes 5-7 or 4-8.

  14. Big Blue Fans, as the 2018 season rapidly approaches, please take a close look at the schedule to reach your own expectation for the upcoming season. I find the schedule formidable, and I believe I would take 6 wins, if guaranteed today, and move on to Thanksgiving to find out where the Cats will go bowling in December.

    I am curious about how the upcoming season will play out as compared to fan expectations, and how that will affect the BBN’s confidence in Coach Stoops as head coach, thus this straw poll.

    Please participate.

    http://pollmaker.vote/p/TVJ2Q8DD

    QUESTION:

    The UK Football program has gone bowling the past two seasons. May be difficult to make it a third year given the 2018 schedule. How many wins in 2018 are necessary for Coach Stoops to retain the confidence of the BBN?

    Possible Answers:

    6

    5

    4

    3

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