It’s a constant work in progress for Mark Stoops’ Kentucky team. Slowly but surely, though, the coach has seen some improvement in his defense’s pass rush.
“I think we did a little bit better job this past week at that. Some of our inside rushers, Cory Johnson, had some really good rushes inside that helped us at times last week (against UGA),” Stoops said on the SEC teleconference Wednesday. “We certainly worked on that quite a bit and emphasized that the past couple weeks with developing some of our young guys and developing better pass rushers.”
Whether the improvement is coming quickly enough remains to be seen. The Wildcats didn’t record any sacks or any quarterback hurries against UGA.
One of the Wildcats who Stoops mentioned specifically was Josh Allen, a true freshman linebacker, who has played in all nine games this season. Stoops added that junior defensive end Jason Hatcher, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, is expected to practice at 100 percent this week.
“I think Josh is getting to the point where he’s getting more effective as a pass rusher,” Stoops said. “I think little by little we’re developing more and more guys that way.”
While he seemed pleased with the progress, Stoops added that it’s still important that his team improve in forcing offenses to be predictable.
If the Wildcats can get better at that, Stoops is confident Kentucky will give up fewer big plays and limit opponents more effectively. The Wildcats rank 72nd in the NCAA for passing efficiency defense.
“We haven’t been great the past couple weeks of getting people off balance. They’ve been being able to get efficient yards on first and second down and we haven’t had them in predictable situations,” he said. “Again, even last week, we didn’t play great, but there were times when we had them in predictable situations and we were effective. I think that’s a big part of it.”