Sun Oct 07 11:53am EDT
We started this last Sunday and I hope we'll be able to continue it through the season. Each week, we list where Kentucky's offense and defense rank nationally and in the SEC, then follow it up with six of the most interesting statistics about the Wildcats.
First, the basic rankings. National rankings are in parentheses, followed by rankings in the Southeastern Conference. All raw data for these statistics is courtesy of cfbstats.com and UK athletics.
-- Total offense: 329.2 ypg (106th nationally, 12th in SEC)
-- Scoring offense: 20.5 ppg (107th nationally, 12th in SEC)
-- Passing offense: 215.5 ypg (78th nationally, 6th in SEC)
-- Rushing offense: 113.7 ypg (108th nationally, 13th in SEC)
-- Total defense: 396.8 (72nd nationally, 11th in SEC)
-- Scoring defense: 30.2 ppg (91st nationally, 13th in SEC)
-- Passing defense: 209 ypg (39th nationally, 5th in SEC)
-- Rushing defense: 187.8 ypg (91st nationally, 13th in SEC)
Here's a freebie: Kentucky's first 6 opponents are a combined 29-2. Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi State are all undefeated and ranked. Western Kentucky is 4-1, with its only loss coming at No. 1 Alabama. Kent State is 4-1, with its only losing coming to the Wildcats.
Here's your six-pack of Kentucky stats, fresh picked from all across the college football universe:
1) What's the most telling stat for Kentucky? It could be that UK is 122nd in the nation (third to last) in time of possession. They average having the ball 24:27 per game, meaning their opponents are averaging 35:33 of possession. That's almost 50 percent more time with the ball. Mississippi State controlled the ball for 35:59, while Kentucky only had the ball for 24:01.
UK hasn't won the time of possession battle in any game this year. Part of this is because UK's offense, pass-happy early in the year, doesn't eat up large amounts of clock. But it's also because Kentucky has struggled to stop the run all year. It doesn't look like that will change going forward.
2) The Wildcats are last in the nation at fourth down conversions. UK is one of just four teams nationally that hasn't converted a fourth down and has the most attempts of any team that hasn't converted one yet. UK has failed on all 10 fourth down attempts this season.
3) Junior linebacker Avery Williamson had 13 tackles against Mississippi State. He ranks 1st in the SEC and is 7th nationally with 64 tackles on the season. Danny Trevathan finished tied for seventh nationally last year. Williamson has the benefit of playing six games while some of his competition has had a bye, but he still ranks 13th nationally with 10.67 tackles per game this season.
4) UK won the turnover battle against Mississippi State by recovering two fumbles, but still lost the game. It was just the second time under Joker Phillips UK had won the turnover battle and lost the game. Before Saturday, UK had gone 9-1 under Phillips when winning the turnover battle while going 1-13 when losing the turnover battle and 2-4 when the turnover margin was tied.
It's also worth noting that Mississippi State was +13 on turnovers through four games entering Saturday, among the national leaders in that category. The Bulldogs had forced nine interceptions entering the game, but none on Saturday.
5) Kentucky has now played 14 true freshmen on the year. Freshman defensive back Zack Blaylock and quarterback Patrick Towles both saw their first action yesterday, being forced into action because of injuries. UK had 26 signees in this class, but safety/linebacker Kory Brown was a sophomore coming from junior college. Also, corner JD Harmon is a walk-on, not included in the 26. So of 25 scholarship freshmen this year, 13 have already played for Kentucky this year.
6) Third down conversions continue to be a sticking point for the defense. The Wildcats rank 121st nationally in third down conversion percentage, as teams are converting 53.68 percent of third down attempts (Mississippi State went 10-18, a 55.5 percent success rate). As I wrote earlier this week though, the third down struggles usually start on first and second down.