The Kentucky Wildcats will be in rebuilding mode this fall, as the team plays its first season under new head coach Mark Stoops. The offense will switch to the wide open passing game of offensive coordinator Neal Brown, while the defense will switch from the 3-4 of last season to a 4-3 this season.
Stoops, the former defensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles, used the 4-3 while in Tallahassee. He and new UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot prefer the 4-3, but it also fits well with the talent that the Wildcats have on the roster.
What made the decision to switch to the 4-3 even easier was the returning defensive line, where Kentucky should be very strong in the fall. A pair of seniors will hope to clog up the middle of the line. Donte Rumph (6-foot-3, 323 pounds) and Mister Cobble (6-foot, 340 pounds) have the size to do so. Stoops and Eliot are hoping these two players can take up enough space to make things tough on opponents. Rumph had 36 tackles, including four sacks last year, while Cobble had 25 tackles and a pair of sacks to his credit.
At defensive end, Alvin “Bud” Dupree has moved from linebacker to the defensive line. Dupree did play end as a freshman, so this is not totally foreign territory for him. As a sophomore last season, Dupree had 91 tackles, which was 10th in the Southeastern Conference. His transition back to the line will be crucial for the defense.
At the other end spot, junior college transfer Za’Darius Smith will be counted on in a big way. Smith comes to UK with a strong resume, and Stoops is hoping that Smith can be a playmaker for the Wildcats. Smith was the nation’s top junior college strong-side defensive end last year, and he looked good in Kentucky’s spring game in April.
Stoops and his staff will have plenty of concerns as the season begins. They hope that the defensive line is one of those areas of the team that can take care of themselves.