By KEITH PEEL
Perspective is a funny thing. Related to sports perspective seems to come mostly from the “eye test.” at least for me. I watch a fair amount of college football and every UK football game. The eye test for me has provided the only perspective that I have so far in evaluating Mark Stoops’ defense during his tenure at UK.
But since my perspective can always use some calibration, let’s check the facts.
Also in the interest of transparent disclosure let me say that I am not a fan of D.J. Eliot as a defensive coordinator but I did think that Mark Stoops was a great defensive coordinator and a tremendous hire as head coach in 2013.
Now, on to the facts:
UK football currently ranks 92nd in scoring defense out of 128 FBS teams. At the end of the 2015 season UK finished 69th in scoring defense. In the 2014 season UK defense ranked as the 93rd best in scoring defense. And last but not least, in Stoops’ first year as head coach (2013) UK ranked 89th in scoring defense. To finish the perspective Joker Phillips’ team ranked 85th in scoring defense for his last year in 2012.
If Stoops had been able to continue his upward trajectory for his defense into this season (or even hold steady at 69) I might be able to say that his recruiting and coaching schemes were having a positive effect. But since we are currently ranked 92nd in scoring defense after five games it is difficult to find areas of improvement.
The secondary looks better but linebacker and defensive line play have been inconsistent at best. The “eye test” tells me that we don’t look any better against quality teams when it comes to stopping them from scoring points and the facts seem to bear that out. We have given up 44, 45, 42, 10 and 34 points respectively to Southern Miss, Florida, New Mexico State, South Carolina and Alabama. Based on the facts and the “eye test” it doesn’t appear that 3 1/2 years of recruiting and coaching have changed the results very much.
So whether emotion or personal preference or anything else tells us that Mark Stoops is a good defensive coach unless he can get his team to 69th or better in scoring defense by the end of the year it appears that a perspective based on the facts will win the day when evaluating whether or not he has improved UK’s Football situation on the defensive side of the ball.