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Kentucky Wildcats Defensive Players to Watch vs. Mizzou Tigers

Kentucky's linebackers are looking to run the show on defense again this season.

The Missouri Tigers will host the Kentucky Wildcats in Columbia for the first game in November this upcoming season, as the two teams will matchup for the 13th all-time meeting.

In the second game last season, the Wildcats pulled away with a 35-28 win over the Tigers in Lexington to build an 8-4 all-time series lead over Mizzou. The teams first met back in 1965 before clashing again in 2012 when the Tigers arrived to the SEC.

The Wildcats are led by coach Mark Stoops, who is entering his 10th season at the helm. He got off to a rocky start after being hired as the head coach in 2013 but has had two 10-3 seasons after starting off with three-straight losing seasons in his tenure.

Stoops won the SEC Coach of the Year in 2018 after leading the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and a win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.

Kentucky had a respectable defense last season, allowing the fifth-fewest offensive yards per game (337.1) and the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (117.8).

The secondary was average though, as the Wildcats surrendered just the seventh-fewest passing yards per contest (219.3).

Overall, the defense has a lot to build on after allowing the fourth-fewest points per game (22.1) in the SEC last season. 

Here at MizzouSportsTalk.com, we'll be reviewing the Wildcats throughout the week. We've already done a general preview of Kentucky and offensive players to watch. Now, let's look at some of the defensive players the Tigers will need to keep an eye on. 


LB J.J Weaver

The Kentucky defense starts with its linebackers, and Weaver was a do-it-all kind of guy at that position last season. 

His versatility as a coverage and pass-rushing backer was on full display, as he led the Wildcats in sacks (6.5) and interceptions (two) along with 34 total tackles, one pass defended and one forced fumble.

Weaver had a season-high 2.5 sacks against the Tennessee Volunteers in a 45-42 loss on Nov. 6. He had just three tackles against Mizzou on Sept. 11, but added one sack and a forced fumble.

LB Jacquez Jones

Jones finished the season tied for the team-lead with 82 tackles and displayed similar versatility like that of Weaver. 

He had just half a sack, but was disruptive in pass coverage, totaling four passes defended, and an interception. Jones also added a forced fumble and fumble recovery. 

Jones tallied his only interception in the matchup against Missouri and has two passes defended. He also had a whopping 18 total tackles agaisnt Mississippi State on Oct. 30. 

LB DeAndre Square

Finishing one tackle behind Jones for the first on the team was Square, who also added three sacks. 

Square had a interception in the Citrus Bowl against Iowa, which made him the fourth linebacker on the team to tally a pick last season, joining the other two guys on this list.

He had two double-digit tackle performances, totaling 13 against Florida and 12 against Mississippi State.


You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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