The Kentucky Wildcats finished their second season under head coach Mark Stoops with a 5-7 (2-6 SEC) record. The Wildcats opened 2014 with a 5-1 record, but failed to secure bowl eligibility, after losing their final six games. Kentucky’s defense struggled down the stretch, ending its season ranked No. 77 overall. The Wildcats ranked No. 90 in rush defense, allowing over 200 yards in four of their last six games. Here’s a detailed analysis of Kentucky’s defense in 2014.

Defensive End: Alvin “Bud” Dupree was the Wildcats’ best player, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Dupree had a team-best 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, along with the second-highest total tackles (74). Despite missing a bowl game, the senior ended his stellar career with another impressive individual season, finishing with 247 tackles, 37 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks for his career. Za’Darius Smith added 60 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks to his season totals.

Linebackers: Josh Forrest finished third in the SEC with a team-best 110 tackles, averaging 9.8 per game. Forrest added 8.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Ryan Flanningan was second among linebackers with 57 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. But Kentucky’s linebackers struggled against rushing attacks, allowing 191.6 yards per game, 20 touchdowns and a 4.5 average.

Defensive Backs: Kentucky ranked No. 44 overall in passing yards allowed, averaging 215.8 yards per game. A.J. Stamps and Marcus McWilson were a crucial part of the Wildcats’ success in their secondary. Stamps (4) and McWilson (3) combined for seven interceptions, including a 36-yard pick-6 by McWilson against Louisiana-Monroe. Stamps was fifth on the team in tackling with 56. Kentucky’s best secondary performance came against Vanderbilt in Week 5. The Wildcats held the Commodores to 85 passing yards and forced three interceptions. Kentucky’s worst performance came in Week 14 against Louisville. The Cardinals recorded 389 yards and three touchdowns, despite having third-string quarterback Kyle Bolin under center for the majority of the game.

The Wildcats defense is still a work in progress. The defensive-minded Stoops has made improvements, but the offensive struggles forced the unit to stay on the field and defend poor field position. Kentucky has young talent that should continue to develop in 2015. However, the loss of Dupree will be a major obstacle to overcome.