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Rick MinterBy LARRY VAUGHT

Knowing Florida is not throwing the football as much this season would have seemed to benefit Kentucky considering the Wildcats went into the season believing the defensive front would be the team’s biggest strength.

However, going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Florida, UK has allowed 188 yards per game rushing — 13th in the Southeastern Conference — and now must face the league’s top rusher in Mike Gillislee. He has run for 346 yards and four touchdowns in three games, including victories at Texas A&M and Tennessee.

“This team is a lot more explosive in terms of speed and power. I watched No. 8 (Trey Burton), who is their wildcat guy and really doesn’t touch the ball a lot. He touched it three times against Tennessee and outran their whole defense for 80 yards on one of the wildcat plays, then about 20-something yards on another play. They got a lot of speed and size,” said Kentucky coach Joker Phillips. “Then on the outside, they’ve got big-time speed. The tailback (Gillislee) has speed. The receivers have speed. They’ve got a lot of speed at every position.”

Phillips admitted his defensive front has not played the way he anticipated. He was counting on tackles Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble along with end Collins Ukwu to anchor a run-stopping defense that has not been able to contain the run. Phillips said he was optimistic based on the way UK stopped Georgia’s running game last season after the Bulldogs shredded Auburn and then played physical to stop Tennessee — UK’s final two games of 2011.

“Not just me, but most people thought it (the defensive front) would be our strength,” Phillips said. “It has not been. It’s hard to say what has been our strength defensively. The thing I do see is improvement since game one and we have to continue to improve.”

Twice last week Western Kentucky scored on 1-yard runs without having the runner touched by a UK defender.

“Very poor defense. Very poor defense,” UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter said as he explained he put the team in the wrong alignment once.  “But I was embarrassed by our defense on the goal line. I thought there were some improvements over the course of the game. I don’t look at total yards, even though it wasn’t pretty.

“There were too many three, four, five-yard ugly runs up inside. We’re not getting off blocks and striking, knocking guys back. Then it’s second-and-nine rather than second-and-five. That’s what we have to get better at. Part of it is physical, part of it is our youth on the inside. We have to shake our guys up on the inside sometime.”

Phillips said poor tackling has been a consistent problem.

“We’re not a good tackling team right now. We’re not. A lot of it has to do with youth, but even some of our older guys are not real good tackling guys,” the UK coach said. “So we’ve got to continue to stress it. A lot of it is staying up off the ground. Running your feet and all those things, but take the fundamentals of tackling: wrapping up, running your feet.”

7 Responses to Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter embarrassed by Kentucky goal line defense against Western Kentucky and should have been

  • Ben says:

    KY has never been a good tackling team. i do not know why they can’t teach tackling? They are also very bad at holding their positions, something that WKU excelled at and was a reason for our offensive problems. Youth is not the problem! It is either the teacher or student that has the problem. To me it is looking more like the teacher.

  • Jim says:

    The reason the razzle dazzle play worked, was because WKU was running the ball down UK’s throat all game. I never would have done the trick play. I would have run the ball up the gut and probably received the same result.

  • RJ says:

    Coach Menter can be embarassed all he wants but he had better teach tackling before Saturday or it’s going to be an ugly day. Maybe he’s embarassed because he has spent all of his practice time on teaching a new defensive scheme instead of fundimentals. Granted these players, all high football achievers at the last level, should have learned football fundimentals in high school but you can never spend enough time teaching fundimentals especially at the collegiate level where players’ skills improve geometrically daily.

    Either there is something wrong with the new defensive scheme or there is something wrong with the players were were recruiting. What ever it is, it has not worked thus far.

  • Lori Metcalf says:

    I agree with Ben — UK has always been horrible at tackling. I’ve been through 3 or 4 DCs and have had the same complaint year after year. Wrap up! Why is that so difficult? This is my single greatest, consistent frustration with UK.

    I once called in to the Sunday morning show with this same complaint/observation and Anthony White said open-field tackling is not as easy as it looks. I can appreciate that.

    But generally we’re not talking one guy on one guy in space. We’re talking basic tackling near the line of scrimmage with the RB is at or just beyond the line of scrimmage. How many times have we seen one of the UK defenders throw a shoulder that merely redirects the runner? They need to be throwing their whole body at him, arms ready to engulf him and if he drags them a couple of yards holding on for dear life, at least they will have slowed him down.

    Wrap up! Wrap up! Wrap up!

    OK, I’m off my soap box now. :-)

  • Tana says:

    Well-said, Lori. Actually, a very knowledgeable fan who sits behind me made a similar comment about how too many of our defenders are simply throwing a shoulder into an opposing player, rather than throwing their entire body into him and then WRAPPING HIM UP — good job on that soap box, as Larry just said!

  • johnl says:

    It seems that UKs’ defenive problems could be put in the same category as the “Forever Stamp”.The defense is forever bad,and it does’nt seem to make much difference who the coach is.
    I strongly suspect the strength and conditioning program could be an issue because the Cats are constantly getting manhandled on the field.

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