I'm not going to pretend this will be a tough game for Kentucky, but I'm also not going to pretend I'm not at least a little worried. Look, last week was great. We won, beat Spurrier, it was magical. But. South Carolina gashed us. If we stay in a 3-4 defense, teams are going to exploit the soft middle of our defense because until Matt Elam can play 60-70% of the defensive snaps (a tough ask for a freshman, especially one his size), there just isn't enough quality depth among the interior defensive linemen to stop top-tier SEC rushing attacks.
While ULM doesn't present said SEC rushing attack, they do present an opportunity to put some starch back in our shirts.
I've gone on record (several times) extolling the ferocity of the Kentucky defense, but I have now watched UT-Martin, Florida and South Carolina kinda do what they wanted running the football against this Kentucky defense. Six weeks, nearly halfway through the season, this is concerning for two reasons. 1) obviously 2) this isn't going to fundamentally change--it's too late for that. That's not to say it can't improve, but short of a change in scheme, it's not going to improve enough to make a significant difference, especially when you look at Kentucky's schedule after ULM. LSU can't do much right offensively, but they can still line up and run the ball. Mississippi State's Dak Prescott has done what he's wanted to do against everyone so far this season, and I don't see him taking a break against Kentucky. Louisville has quarterback problems, but they don't have running back problems. You feelin me? You feelin that?
So, this week against ULM here's what I'd like to see: I'd like to see press coverage from the corners. I'd like to see them play crazy aggressive. It makes sense because if we're not going to be able to consistently stop the run, then we'd better be able to make it difficult to throw. The safeties, Stamps and Lowery (and McWilson), are solid. I trust them. I'm not so sure about the corners. When Spurrier wasn't exploiting the interior defensive line Saturday, Dylan Thompson was enjoying lots of success on the edges in the passing game, and it's a lot easier to shore up the edges than it is the middle of the defense (it's more important to have a strong middle of the defense, but that just isn't going to be us this year).
The point is, you can have one thing wrong with a defense, but not two, not if you expect SEC success and a quality bowl game this season. So, if Kentucky can do that, if they can solidify the edges, it will go a long way to not only beating ULM, but also LSU, State and UL, none of whom excel in the intermediate to deep passing game, and all three of those games are winnable if the Cats can make them throw the ball down the field to win. Except State because that defense, man.