Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats had a very talented, yet mediocre defense at best.
The Wildcats gave up an unacceptable 28.4 points per game, while also allowing 177.1 rushing yards a game. On the positive side however, the Wildcats secondary allowed just 177.1 yards through the air.
In an effort to straighten out their defensive woes plaguing them the last few seasons, Kentucky brought in new defensive coordinator Rick Minter.
Minter has brought in new packages and completely different schemes than what most teams are used to facing.
Despite all of Kentucky's struggles on the defensive side of the football last season, there is plenty of hope, as well as reason for hype, as the Wildcats return seven defensive starters from last season's bowl team.
Up front and in the trenches, returning juniors Collins Ukue, Taylor Wyndham and Ridge Wilson are competing for the defensive end spots and the position looks to be fairly deep and strong.t
The middle of the D-line has a lot of questions however. There is a lot of experience issues here, which always raises questions about talent and contributions. Seniors Mark Crawford and Luke McDermott, and sophomore Mister Cobble look to be the rotation at the defensive tackle position.
Will Kentucky's defense be improved in 2011?
Senior Winston Guy has converted to the strong-side linebacker from safety, and despite his tackling woes last season, is looking very good at his new position. Meanwhile, senior Ronnie Sneed and sophomore Avery Williamson are both locked in a close battle for the starting middle linebacker position.
Without a doubt, if the Wildcats defense want to improve upon last season's rush defense, both the inexperienced defensive line and the experienced linebacker corps must improve.
The strength of last season's defense was the secondary. Allowing only 177 passing yards per game, the Wildcats look to be in pretty good shape. Seniors Anthony Mosley and Randall Burden both won the cornerback positions in spring.
With Guy's move to linebacker, there is quite a battle ensuing amongst the defensive backs.
Five players will be battling for the two safety spots—seniors Taiedo Smith and Mychal Bailey, junior Martavius Neloms, and freshmen Glenn Faulkner and Miles Simpson. All five players are more than capable of contributing to the defense.
Along with Coach MInter's aggressive style of defense, with all of the talent and experience the Wildcats have returning, there is hope in Lexington.
In order for that hope to come to fruition however, unlike last season, the Wildcats must embrace tackling, stop the run and know their assignments. These are a few of the things that plagued Kentucky's defense, putting it near the bottom of the SEC last season.
But there is cause for hope and high expectations in Lexington. The talent is there, the experience is there, the aggressive style of coaching is there—let's just hope that the defense is there when the whistle blows.