Not that having a new coach and defensive Cordinator is out-of-the-way and a bowl season is out of the question, Kentucky fans can start looking towards the 2013 season. The team’s offense of coordinator is still unknown at this time (Calling Neil Brown or James Coley?), so it’s hard to guess what will happen on the offenses side of the ball. From the press conference, we do know that Coach Stoops plans on changing Kentucky scheme from a 3-4 but the team is using now to disfavored 4-3 scheme, and that is interesting enough on its own.
The 3-4 and 4-3 defenses are very different in several ways, but most of the differences involve the linebackers and defensive lineman. The transition to the new scheme should be relatively easy for the team safeties and cornerbacks as they will have the same general responsibilities that they would have had anyway. The defense of backs will likely see more zone schemes down at them, but other than that they will still just be trying to stop the passing place and support the run defense.
The defense of tackle position looks relatively well start the change. The quick look at the roster shows that the team will have considerable depth inside the interior of its defense. Mister Cobble, Donte Rumph, and Tristian Johnson Wall return for their senior seasons after playing plenty of snaps this past year. Additionally, Christian Coleman, Mike Douglas and Alvin Davis will return for their junior years with plenty of experience. Thomas Chapman and Patrick Graffree will be coming off their redshirt seasons and should be ready to contribute as well, and throwing the possibility of Langston Newton being switched to the interior and the addition of Jacob Hyde and any other incoming freshmen, and the two defensive tackle’s spots look well stocked with quality players. My initial guess would be that Cobble and Rumph are the starters, with Coleman and Johnson rotating it. Plenty of depth will be available beyond those four as well.
Defensive end is another story though. Four year contributors Collins Ukwu and Taylor Wyndham have used up their eligibility that the position has not been heavily recruited in the past two years. Farrington Huguenin was a star in last years spring practices, but he will only be a sophomore next season and his ability to contribute heavy minutes will be a question mark. Conventional wisdom would say that Alvin Dupree, Travaughn Paschal, and maybe even Tyler Brause could all see switches to the defensive end position to provide some depth and get athletic pass rushers on the field. The addition of incoming freshman Alvonte Bell is even more important now than it was before and another DE or two wouldn’t hurt either.
The linebacker/defensive end- hybrid position that we’ve come to know will likely be a thing of the past. The new defenses use of only three linebackers typically doesn’t have a place for a player with that particular skill set at all, hence the idea of those guys moving to defensive end. Now, we are much more likely get to see the three linebacker sets, similar to what we saw when Steve Brown was the defensive coordinator. Avery Williamson is a great middle linebacker for any scheme and should fit right in in Stoops defense. The strong-side and weak-side linebacker positions are a different story though. These two spots are vastly different in the new scheme that they were in coach Rick Minter’s defense. Luckily for the Wildcats, there are more than enough warm bodies to go around as the team will be going from a Ford linebacker scheme to a three linebacker scheme. I would anticipate all of the safety/ linebacker-hybrids to be moved to the weak–side linebacker position and Khalid Thomas to find a home there as well. The strong-side linebacker is a little different though. Guys like Demarius Rancifer, Tyler Brause, Pancho Thomas and Josh Forrest all have the right skill-set for this spot, but none of them have any experience in playing it. What all the dust is settled, I believe Khalid Henderson will be the starting weak-side linebacker, Avery Williamson will be the starting middle linebacker, and we will see a spirited battle for the starting-strong side linebacker position, with Pancho Thomas eventually claiming the job.
So, here is my way-to-early defensive two-deep for Kentucky’s 2013 season. Keep in mind that this is all for fun and in no way even slightly official.
DE: Bud Dupree – Mike Douglas
DT: Donte Rumph – Tristian Johnson
DT: Mister Cobble – Christian Coleman
DE: Farrington Huguenin – Travaughn Paschal
WLB: Khalid Henderson – Miles Simpson
MLB: Avery Williamson – Tyler Brause
SLB: Pancho Thomas – Demarius Rancifer
CB: Cody Quinn – Marcus Caffey
CB: Fred Tiller – JD Harmon
FS: Glenn Faulkner – Zach Blaylock
SS: Ashely Lowery – Daron Blaylock