September 28, 2011
Secondary quietly among statistical leaders
The number stood out like a scarlet letter in a black forest: 405.
It's the number of rushing yards surrendered to Florida in last week's 48-10 beating at the hands of the Gators.
But Wildcat secondary didn't have the same problem. In fact, Kentucky's secondary is only allowing 162.3 passing yards per game, good for 14th in the country. Some of that is to be expected when offenses are able to rack up yards on the ground, but other numbers back that up.
UK is fourth in the country in completion percentage against (47.3 percent), 18th in yards per attempt (5.8), and 15th in passer rating against (98.23). No team has completed more than 54 percent of its passes against UK, and the Gators didn't even complete half their passes. Only Alabama is allowing fewer passes to be completed among Southeastern Conference teams.
"We've done some things that we could have done a lot better," defensive backs coach Steve Brown said. "But they're good kids and they want to learn."
The defensive backfield has been able to cobble together some success this season despite a significant amount of turnover this year. Brown said the secondary is still making adjustments, but is pleased with the job they've done thus far.
Both of last year's starting cornerbacks, seniors Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley, are back, but there was still a significant amount of turnover since last season. Neither returning safety, seniors Winston Guy and Mychal Bailey are in the same role this year. Martavius Neloms, who played in nickel situations last season, is now at safety along with junior Mikie Benton. Cartier Rice won the nickel job by default when Jerrell Priester left the team in fall camp.
"It's surprising," Guy said. "I don't even pay attention to the statistics."
This week could be similar to the previous four for the Wildcats. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee, who stepped in for the suspended Jordan Jefferson, is only averaging 156 yards per game for the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 SEC), allowing a tandem of tailbacks to pace the offense.
The secondary has also registered seven interceptions this year, tied for eighth best in the country in that category.
"I think we're doing a pretty good job this year," Burden said. "We take pride in that."
Even though the numbers stack up in his favor, Brown doesn't put too much into it.
"That all can change in a heartbeat," he said. "The season's not over, so I don't want to be down on anything or elated on anything until the season is done."
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