By LARRY VAUGHT
Photo by Vicky Graff
Former Kentucky all-SEC defensive back Van Hiles didn’t think UK’s performance against Toledo in last week’s 38-24 win was all the impressive when he initially watched the game. After he had a chance to watch the game a few more times, he changed his mind.
“There were some minor things with Toledo scoring early. It was not from a lack of effort or talent by Kentucky,” said Hiles. “Some guys were trying to do too much. A few other instances guys just didn’t make plays. But after the first quarter, the defense was good.”
Kentucky hosts Eastern Michigan Saturday night and then on Sept. 14 will host Florida in what could be a season-changing game for the Cats.
Much attention — and criticism — was put on the secondary for UK’s early defensive issues. Hiles was more concerned about UK’s lack of an edge rush in its four-man pressure packages.
“They have got to get pressure from (Josh) Paschal or (Jordan) Wright,” Hiles said. “Toledo rolled away from Boogie (Watson) because they respected him. Paschal or Wright has to get more pressure.”
Hiles thought UK’s defensive front, expected to be a team strength, played well, especially the nose guards and tackles.
“Those guys got a good push and pressure,” Hiles said. “They were pretty stout in the run game. Most of Toledo’s runs were off tackle. The outside linebackers were inconsistent.”
One reason for that was no Josh Allen this year, who has got some early attention as a likely NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year before he’s played his first game with Jacksonville.
“Guys this year are not as stout against the run as Josh was. Josh’s run defense was a little underrated. He did very well against the run,” Hiles said. “You can harp on all the sacks he had but he was great against the run. We slipped a little bit in that area without him. We were a little confused on some things.
“But all that is easier to clean up with talent and effort and UK has both. They are deep and Jordan Wright has shown me some talent. We are going to be good at linebacker for a while.”