Football Cats in the Stats

Jan. 26, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Statistics for the 2008 college football season have been finalized, with Kentucky faring well in several categories nationally and in the Southeastern Conference.

Here are some nuggets from the NCAA statistics:
• One of the team offensive goals this season was to reduce negative plays and the Wildcats were able to do so.  UK ranked fourth in the nation in fewest quarterback sacks allowed and 11th in fewest tackles for loss allowed.
• UK ranked third in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 26.39 yards per return.  This was just shy of the school record of 26.40 per return set in 2005.  This marked the first time in school history that two different players – Derrick Locke and David Jones – returned kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season.
• Kentucky’s significant improvement in defense stacked up this way:
o UK has gone from 99th (2006) to 80th (2007) to 35th (2008) in scoring defense. 
o The Wildcats gave up 21.5 points per game in 2008.  UK’s improvement of 8.1 points per game vs. 2007 is the nation’s 14th most improved defense.
o From 2006-08, UK has gone from 118th to 67th to 40th nationally in total defense.  UK gave up 332.4 yards per game during the ’08 season.
o UK ranked 13th in the nation for fewest first downs allowed.
• Tim Masthay was fifth in the nation at 45.2 yards per punt.

From the final SEC statistics:
• Kentucky led the SEC in kickoff returns at 26.39 per return (see additional notes above).
• UK led the SEC in fewest quarterback sacks allowed, a total of 13 and an average of one per game.
• UK led the SEC in net kickoff coverage, the second year in a row the Wildcats have led the league in that category.
• Tim Masthay led the SEC in punting with a 45.2-yard average per punt.  That is the second-best single-season average in school history.
• Linebacker Micah Johnson was third in the SEC in tackles per game.  He made 93 tackles, 8.5 per game (missed two games because of injury).
• Cornerback Robbie McAtee was second in the SEC in fumble recoveries.
• Cornerback Trevard Lindley led the league in total passes defended per game. He totaled 15 passes defended (four interceptions, 11 breakups) for an average of 1.15 per game.

McClinton to Play in Texas vs. the Nation Game: Free safety Marcus McClinton has committed to play in the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game set for Sat. Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. EST in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

McClinton led the Wildcats with four interceptions in 2008.  He totaled 10 pickoffs in his career, fourth-best in school history.  He also totaled 181 tackles, nine pass breakups and eight fumbles caused during his years at UK, helping lead the team to bowl victories in each of his final three seasons.

McClinton has been assigned to the Texas team and will wear uniform No. 22.  The game will be televised on the CBS College Sports cable channel.

This will be the third edition of the Texas vs. the Nation game.  McClinton is the second Wildcat to play in this contest.  Offensive lineman Eric Scott participated last year.

Pryor, Williams Play Well in Shrine Game: Defensive tackle Myron Pryor and linebacker Johnny Williams played well in helping the East team to a 24-19 victory in the East-West Shrine Game held last Saturday in Houston, Texas.

Williams began the game in fine fashion, slicing through the blockers on the opening kickoff and dumping the returner at the 15-yard line.  He totaled four tackles during the game. 

Pryor had six tackles, including a quarterback sack, and also assisted on another tackle for loss.  On the first series of the game, on fourth-and-goal at the East one-yard line, he combined with Duke linebacker Michael Tauiliili to throw the ballcarrier for a two-yard loss, stopping the West on downs.  In the second quarter, Pryor notched the only quarterback sack of the game, forcing the West to punt.

Early Entries for the NFL: Fourteen juniors from the Southeastern Conference decided to declare for early entry in the National Football League draft, including 12 who would have played against Kentucky during the 2009 season. 

Here’s the list:
Alabama – TB Glen Coffee, OT Andre Smith
Arkansas – TE Andrew Davie
Auburn – DT Sen’Derrick Marks, CB Jerraud Powers
Florida – WR Percy Harvin
Georgia – CB Asher Allen, TB Knowshon Moreno, QB Matthew Stafford
LSU – DT Ricky Jean-Francois
South Carolina – S Emanuel Cook, TE Jared Cook, CB Captain Munnerlyn
Vanderbilt – CB D.J. Moore