By LARRY VAUGHT
Art Still is the most dominant defensive player I’ve seen play at Kentucky. He was so dominant in 1977 during his senior season when UK went 10-1 that teams normally didn’t even try to run to his side of the field.
In Saturday night’s 28-7 win over No. 14 Mississippi State, Kentucky senior linebacker-defensive end Josh Allen was as dominant as a player can be.
Three of his six tackles were solo stops. He had two tackles for loss, one quarterback sack, one quarterback hurry and one pass breakup. I thought he had had more than one hurry because he kept constant pressure on State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. He also forced at least four illegal procedure penalties against State’s left tackles who were never able to block him — and surprisingly very seldom got needed help trying to block him.
“He is a dominant football player. I was making sure we were being able to rush him as much we could because it seemed like he was unstoppable,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “But he did a really good job in coverage and he was so big and long he was disruptive in the pass game as well.
“He’s a dynamic player and he was very hard to block tonight. He’s a great football player. The great thing about him is he is so happy for the team.
“It’s not — he’s going to get his and he’s doing what he has to do, but it’s about the team and having success and that’s the way all these guys are.”
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson admired what Allen did, but also said it was no surprise.
“He does a great job of giving our offensive line a look (in practice),” Wilson said. “He is so powerful coming off that edge that it is impossible to block him.”
Mississippi State likely would agree because it could never block him.
The Bulldogs managed just 201 total yards and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who shredded UK last year, had just 20 yards rushing and was 16 of 32 passing for 145 yards with one interception by Tyrell Ajian. Darius West had nine tackles for UK, Jordan Jones eight and Kash Daniel seven.
Yet don’t doubt that Allen’s play was the catalyst for everything that the Kentucky defense did.
“He is playing incredible football,” Stoops said. “He is doing a great job. He works very hard. (Assistant coach) Brad White has helped take him to another level.”
And that has helped take Kentucky to a new level — 4-0 and headed into the national rankings this week going into another home game against South Carolina.