Kentucky gave up 29 total points in the season-opening loss at Auburn on Saturday, but the defense dealt with a few short fields in the second half due to turnovers that led to touchdowns for the Tigers.
With that said, UK Defensive Coordinator Brad White still felt that the defense could have played better, and will not let the short-field drives be an excuse.
“There’s no bigger momentum swing than if you’re given a short field, and you flip that momentum,” he said.
White later continued:
“We gotta rise up. We gotta elevate. We gotta make plays and force field goals. That’s something we gotta get better at.”
Both UK Head Coach Mark Stoops and DC Brad White have praised the work of junior linebacker Josh Paschal, as both said he was the only player on the defensive side of the ball that played particularly well. Even though the pass rush was not able to bring Auburn QB Bo Nix down to the ground, they still got pretty good pressure on him, and a lot of that havoc was created by Paschal.
“I thought Josh Paschal was in the field, effecting plays, probably more than people give credit for.”
The Cats next opponent — Ole Miss — has an explosive offense that put up 35 points and 613 total yards against Florida. At the helm of their offense is QB Matt Corral, who threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns with 22 completions on 31 attempts. Along with him, the Rebels have a change of pace quarterback in John Rhys Plumlee, who is known as a shifty guy that can be explosive running the ball.
Brad White knows that UK will have to pay attention to both guys on the field, as either can bring the Rebels down the field quickly and score.
“It presents a huge issue,” he said. “When you got a guy who is as dynamic as Plumlee is, and he’s in there at the same time (as Corral), you’re basically operating against two quarterbacks. Corral’s an athlete himself, so you can’t just ignore him.”
Ole Miss wideout Elijah Moore had a monster game against the Gators, as he snagged 10 catches for 227 yards. Brad White was impressed by Moore’s performance, and compared him to a familiar name to football fans in the Bluegrass State.
For those around here, they would know, he’s very much like a TuTu Atwell (Louisville WR) in that regard,” he said. “He’s a really dynamic slot receiver.”
With that said, White also focused on the Rebel offense overall as dangerous, and said the Cats have to repeat their performance against Louisville last year, in which they won 45-13, and limit explosive plays.
“That have plenty targets, and Corral seems comfortable in this system. We gotta do a good job with him, manage in the pocket, because similar to Bo (Nix) last week, he’s got plenty of escapability,” he said. “At all three phases, and all three levels of our defense, we’re gonna get stretched, and it’s very similar in terms of Louisville — we gotta rise up and limit those explosive plays like we did last year.”
The Kentucky defense will be tested on Saturday, and their veteran leadership and experience will have to come in hand if UK is going to avoid an upset.