Last Saturday after the Kentucky Wildcats' first scrimmage of fall camp, head coach Mark Stoops said he needed to watch the film before making an assessment of the team performed.
Well, the verdict from the head honcho is in, and the news is positive as the team heads into their second full week of practice.
Stoops on the Offense
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran spoke about how he liked how efficiently the offense performed during the scrimmage, and Coach Stoops comments gave off the same vibe.
"Felt like we really took care of the football. Quarterbacks made good decisions. We were efficient", Stoops said.
Good news considering that Stoops also said, "Defensively, we only gave up one explosive play."
Coaches Gran and Lamar Thompson continue to mention the maturation of UK’s talented but much-maligned pack of wide receivers.
The head coach’s assessment: "I’ve been very pleased with the progress we’ve made there."
Specifically, Stoops likes his wideouts one-play-at-a-time mindset.
"I’ve seen much more consistency with our receivers. They’ve grown a lot. I like the way they’re going about their business. They’ve been very energetic. They’ve been leaders. They’ve been making plays, and if they’ve made a bad play or a drop, they’ve just moved right along and made the next one."
Stoops on the Defense
Coach Stoops sounded quite pleased that his defense limited "the explosives", the kind of play that killed the Wildcats late last season.
One glaring omission from the positive side of the report was the linebacking corp.
"Yeah, we weren't very good on Saturday," Stoops bluntly said before adding that he hopes that the group facing more "live bullets" in practice will heighten their level of play.
As of Monday’s practice, the gaps left by defensive tackle Regie Meant and safety Darius West are still being filled by committee.
At defensive tackle, Adrian Middleton has emerged as a solid contributor on early down. Something that Coach Stoops hopes the redshirt sophomore will take pride in.
"He’s much better on first and second down. He needs to be who he is, and that’s a good run defender and being stout and being strong in there."
Players like Denzil Ware, with a diverse skill set, have also worked in a pinch as a down lineman during Camp according to Stoops.
As for the search to replace Wilson, Stoops mentioned Kendall Randolph, who "always plays nickel well." Marcus McWilson will also see time at safety due to his size.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Kobie Walker may also see some assignments at safety.
"Kobie is a guy that’s very explosive. Kobie Walker is doing some good things. He’s a little bit of a tweener, but he’s a very good rush guy. He’s very active when he rushes. We need that, but he’s also in between. He’s kind of got a linebacker body, but he runs very good. So we can play him in some packages as well", Stoops said.
- Mikel Horton returned to practice today after missing a few days with an ankle injury.
- Coach Stoops had an interesting quote about how the team’s newfound depth is affecting how they will push players: "We're not taking one step back. We're going to push forward, and guys are going to learn to fight through adversity. You're not meant to feel real good right now, in two-a-days and the heart of this right now. You're going to be bumped and bruised and banged up a little bit, so it's very good. We have a lot more bodies out here. That's for sure."
- Former walk-on receiver Charles Walker was honored with a scholarship over the weekend but did not see the gesture coming even though he "thought it was possible during this camp."
Walker admitted that he teared up "a little" and that it felt like "my heart was going to jump out of my body."
The former Louisville St. Xavier star has primarily appeared on special teams and takes great pride in his duties.
"It is one-third of the football game. Special teams play a big part of the game. A caused fumble can turn a game around."
The news of the scholarship was a double dip of happiness for the Walker family, as his sister had gotten engaged the previous week. Walker jokingly said that he stole her thunder.