After a rainy day of practice yesterday afternoon, UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot met with the press to discuss the team’s performance against Vanderbilt and the improved play of linebacker Jason Hatcher.
The Vanderbilt Game
Lost in the storm of criticism Kentucky’s offense took from the fans following last week’s loss to the Commodores was the fact that the defense played an outstanding game. Eliot said he saw improvement in several areas that hurt the unit in previous games.
"We played really good on third down. Had a lot of three-and-outs. We had a better first down efficiency. Played the run well."
The effort from Music City has carried over this week to practice.
"I think our guys have responded as good as they can. They have a great attitude and they’re working hard. They’ve kept the focus on just the next opponent and getting better", said Eliot.
Rainy weather forced Kentucky to practice indoors Wednesday, but Eliot said it had no effect on the Cats' practicing.
"Had to utilize space, but the kids didn’t let it be a distraction to them," Eliot said. "They went about their business. We had pads on, so we got a chance to tackle. That’s important. You always want to play physical when you’re on defense. We had a good upbeat practice."
Eliot raved about the level of play that Louisville native Jason Hatcher brought to the field during Saturday’s loss.
"He brought a lot of enthusiasm to the field. I expect him to continue to do that and bring that to every game."
When Hatcher plays at a higher level he brings a positive vibe to the entire defense.
"I think any time you get a good player on the edge, whether it’s pass rush or whether it’s setting the edge and making tackles for a loss, it definitely sets the mentality. It also, like I said, gains enthusiasm. That’s something that we’re going to need to have and continue to build on."