Fall camp is winding down for the Kentucky Wildcats, and UK Head Coach Mark Stoops liked what he saw on the second to last day.
"Thought we had a good morning practice. We’ll have another one this afternoon. It was very good work. Guys had good energy, good focus, improved. I felt like after watching the scrimmage, again, there were some really good things in there. I felt like we made a big jump defensively."
However, depth is still an issue for the team, and there are several position battles raging. Coach Stoops spoke about two in depth: punter and weakside linebacker.
Freshman Grant McKinniss and sophomore Bryan Kirshe will both see playing time early in the season, according to Stoops, and from the coach's words, it seems that the race is still too close to call.
"We’ll let them keep on battling and see what happens. Both of them hit some very good ones, and both of them have been a little bit inconsistent."
Jordan Jones, whether it be injury or poor play early in camp, has been pushed to the limit by Eli Brown. Each linebacker is, in Stoops’ words. "playing really good football". Brown has been the talk of camp and is a player that Stoops described as having stepped up and stood out during the last few weeks.
As camp comes to a close, Stoops is pleased with the mentality of these Wildcats despite the defections, injuries and position battles.
"Our team has been able to handle more. They practice hard. They have great attention to detail. They’re focused. We’re more mature. Physically we can handle more and mentally we can handle more."
Stoops also likes his team’s chemistry thus far, which was reportedly an issue for last year’s team.
"I think the team chemistry is wonderful. I really do. Our players have really invested a lot. They’ve worked hard. They have a good mentality. They have a good mindset. And I’ve been pleased with that. I really have. Even late at night, we constantly do meetings and walkthroughs. We’ve got speakers coming and talking to them, and they’ve been very attentive, and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. That’s been fun to see."
The team will have the day off on Wednesday to attend their first day of classes and will begin game prep for Southern Mississippi on Thursday.
Other News and Notes
- Outside linebacker Kobie Walker is competing for a starting spot, and his versatility is a reason why. "He’s very active. He’s very versatile. He can cover. He’s a really good rusher, he gives us some flexibility with what we’re doing out there with his spot", Stoops said.
- Coach Stoops hinted at which freshmen will see the field early this season on defense, "I think T.J. Carter is a guy that will play, that we’ll need to bring along and play. Kash (Daniel), I think is a guy that we have to look at defensively."
- To Stoops, defensive end Alvonte Bell is "making some good progress. He really is. It’s still, with what we’re doing and being as multiple as we are, putting it all together and being on point and being perfect in his assignments and technique every play is always going to be a challenge, and we’ve got to continue to push. But I like what he’s doing. He’s made a lot of strides."
- Expect to see shifting defenses from the Wildcats this season. "We’re going to be three down, and we’ll get in four-down fronts as well. We’ll do both. We’re quite multiple in what we do blitz wise, coverage wise and all that", Stoops said.