While last season’s Kentucky squad may have made strides under coach Mark Stoops, SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy believes one group — and one Wildcat in particular — stood out for the wrong reasons.
On Tuesday at SEC Media Days, McElroy blasted the team’s defensive line and pounced on former 5-star DL recruit Matt Elam. His scathing words came while sitting alongside former LSU defensive linemen Marcus Spears and Booger McFarland, who showed plenty of approval as he went on his tirade.
“And the defensive line too, step up right now, step up. It was an embarrassing effort. The linebackers covered their bases an awful lot, who were really good and played their tails off.”
And then McElroy pointed his tongue at Elam.
“But this defensive line, they need to be issued the challenge because this was an embarrassing effort last year, particularly the former 5-star Matt Elam who’s lazy and as underachieving a player as I’ve seen in this league in some time.”
Last season, Kentucky ended a five-year bowl drought by going 7-6. However, the defense ranked 12th in the SEC in rush defense (228.2 yards allowed per game). The unit also struggled to get to the quarterback, recording only 21 sacks. Only Ole Miss (20) and Vanderbilt (15) had fewer.
The 6-foot-7, 360-pound Elam, from John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Ky., was one of the most prized recruits in the 2014 recruiting cycle, but he’s failed to produce much at all in Lexington.
In three seasons, Elam has only managed 42 tackles with half a tackle coming behind the line of scrimmage. He’s seen action in 35 games over that span with nine starts.