UK Football

Can one of UK’s strongest players exploit one of A&M’s biggest weaknesses?

Josh Allen has the full attention of most opposing coaches these days.

“He’s double-teamed a lot,” Coach Mark Stoops said of Kentucky’s senior linebacker, who won his third Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week honor in five weeks.

In two-minute drills or in game situations that will most likely involve a pass, teams are doing their best to contain the UK senior, who has had a monster two weeks including 14 tackles, four sacks, six tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

Those numbers might continue to rise for Allen this week at Texas A&M. The Aggies have allowed more sacks (17) than any team in the conference this season. Only five teams in the country have given up more. Facing top-ranked Alabama skewed those numbers a little with the Crimson Tide managing seven sacks.

Texas A&M’s 30 tackles for loss allowed this season also ranks in the bottom three of the league.

Enter Allen. Opponents are doing “so many things” to try and contain the rusher, who leads the league and is tied for first nationally in tackles for loss this season with 10.5, Stoops said. Allen also is tied for third in the country in sacks with six, which is tops in the conference as well.

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Opposing offenses “can chip him, they can put a tight end there, they can use a back, they can do a lot of things,” Stoops said of the senior star, who opted to come back this season instead of leaving early for the NFL Draft.

It’s not just opponents who are taking note of Allen this season and how much he’s helped Kentucky remain unbeaten and move up to No. 13 in the latest Associated Press poll.

ProFootballFocus.com named Allen the top-graded edge rusher in the country through the first five weeks of the season on Monday.

The site, which takes a deep dive into statistics each week, noted that Allen has the top pass-rush productivity in the nation with six sacks, seven QB hits and 16 hurries on just 111 rushes.

“His win percentage of 30.6 percent is also best among the nation’s edge defenders and he’s been strong against the run with an 82.8 grade,” the site added.

A lot went into the 6-foot-5, 260-pound senior returning to Kentucky for his final season. Stoops is just glad Allen did.

“He most definitely would be on an NFL roster this year,” Stoops said of Allen, who is third on UK’s career sacks list. “But he decided to come back and make a difference for the rest of his life.

“He is (playing) some outstanding football, as good as I’ve seen. With all the things that he does and how versatile he is and how hard he’s playing and how dynamic he is. With his pass rushes and doing good in coverage, he’s just doing a lot of things good.”

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