Kentucky Football: Cardiac Cats remain unbeaten with spectacular defense

Kentucky Wildcats celebrate after a Matt Ruffalo kick. (Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats celebrate after a Matt Ruffalo kick. (Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky football
Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Carrington Valentine (Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) /

MVP of this game has to go to the Kentucky football defense

Player of the Game, MVP, Helmet Sticker whatever you want to use as an accolade it has to go to Kentucky’s defense.

The line struggled in the trenches last week but was ready to take a stand and statement against the Gamecocks.

While the stat line may only show two sacks one by Carrington Valentine and JJ Weaver both could not have come at bigger moments. There may have only been five tackles for loss, but five different players recorded one and again at opportune big situations.

South Carolina had the ball 10 times, and the results were five punts, three times it turned it over on downs, one touchdown, and one record-setting 54-yard field goal. Two of the first three drives the Big Blue defense forced them into a three-and-out.

The only touchdown they gave up was the opening drive of the second half when USC went 75 yards for a touchdown.

On three of the drives, UK’s defense was on the field for less than two minutes. On five others it was less than three minutes.

But with the offense turning it over often and quickly the D had little time to rest. But that didn’t seem to bother DeAndre Square who spoke to the media after the game.

"“We always have the mentality that if a sudden change happens, we say ‘good,’” “It’s just a mentality that the whole defense has. It’s not a bad thing. We get to go out there and show our talent. When stuff like that happens we get excited. Not because of hte turnover, but we get a chance to go out and show what we do. It’s good.”"

Every time Shane Beamer called a run play for the Gamecocks the Kentucky defense was ready and allowed just 58 rushing yards. It is the fewest rushing yards UK has given up in a road game since September 16th, 2017 at South Carolina when they were held to 54.

So how good was Brad White’s defense?

They held South Carolina to a 3 of 12 conversion rate on third downs, but the Wildcats were even stout on fourth down. The Gamecocks went for it three times and failed to make a first down on any.

Stoops, a defensive-minded coached always highlights the defense.

"“They were really excited to make those stops. They didn’t put their head down when they got put in that position. They didn’t go out and mope and say oh ‘poor me.’ They buckled down and made stops. It says a lot and it doesn’t surprise me. We have really good leadership there. A lot of guys who have played a lot of football. We’re getting in better and better shape as the year goes on. I felt like we’ve been strong all year.”"

Quarterback Luke Doty did throw for 158 yards but most was on the scoring drive and inspiration heaves in the closing minutes.

DeAndre Square led the UK defense with eight tackles, while Jacquez Jones, Carrington Valentine, Yusuf Corker, and Tyrell Aijian each recorded four. Jalen Geiger is quickly becoming a big-time tackler in the open field.