UK's Dupree finds himself after Monday's role call

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 13, 2013 

UK's Alvin Dupree bore down on Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw Oct. 5 in South Carolina.

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  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Think Mondays are difficult for you?

Talk to Kentucky's Alvin "Bud" Dupree.

Monday means walking on the football practice field and having to figure out exactly who he will be for the rest of the week.

Will he be Bud Dupree, aggressive, quarterback hunting defensive end? Or Bud Dupree, stout, run-stopping linebacker?

"Only time I get confused is probably on Mondays when we put new packages in, so Monday's probably my worst day of practice," Dupree said recently.

"That's just because I have to take in a new scheme and remember, 'I'm not a defensive end right now, I'm a linebacker.' Sometimes it's like, 'Hey, you're not a linebacker; you're a defensive end.' Once I get it down pat, like say by Tuesday, then I have a good practice."

The Monday blahs eventually turn into Monday "ahhhs" for Dupree as he learns his role in whatever defensive plan head coach Mark Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot have concocted for UK that week.

The one guarantee is that Dupree will be a big part of the plan.

"Bud is such a good player that you want to try to put him at the point of attack," Eliot said of the junior, second on the team in tackles with 47 despite missing a game this season with a pectoral injury. "He's just so dynamic."

When Kentucky is playing its base 4-3, Dupree is a bookend for the defensive line with fellow pass rusher Za'Darius Smith. When UK moves to a 3-4, Dupree plays standing up as a linebacker.

"He's a very good football player," Stoops said of the junior, second on the team in tackles with 47 despite missing a game with a pectoral injury. "He's very versatile. He's doing a lot of things for us.

"He's a very smart player, very instinctual."

Dupree doesn't always feel that way on Mondays, not that his coaches are noticing.

"Bud probably has the least amount of missed assignments on our football team," Eliot said. "Bud is in the right spot the majority of the time, and therefore is one of our most effective players."

Is that lack of miscues surprising for a player who is asked to do so much?

Maybe, Eliot said, but not for Dupree. "He's a very smart player and he's a very smart person," Eliot continued. "So I wasn't shocked when he's been able to be successful doing different things."

Dupree's 13 tackles against Mississippi State two weeks ago were most by a UK defensive lineman since the school started keeping those records in 1993.

He's had a sack in six of the eight games he's played this season and the junior from Irwinton, Ga., is fifth in the league and 31st in the nation with his 0.7 sacks a game.

Dupree and Smith are getting ready to go up against a Vanderbilt offense that has given up the most sacks in the league this season, allowing 26 (3.25 a game) for 128 yards. It also has allowed 54 tackles for loss this season.

They've been a gruesome twosome for Kentucky (2-7, 0-5 SEC) this season, with both of them managing 5.5 sacks this season.

When Dupree returned from his injury, Smith was all smiles to have his running mate back. They learn from and help each other.

"That's my boy, man," Smith said. "Me and him are real cool. Just by working together after practice on moves and technique, man. That's just the main thing."

With three games still to play, starting on Saturday at Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4), Dupree's 5.5 sacks this season are just one fewer than he had total in 12 games last season.

So far this season, he also has 7.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.

Of all his roles in this UK defense, which is his favorite?

"Probably rushing the passer, but it doesn't really matter," said Dupree, who had nine tackles against the Commodores last season. "If they want me to rush the passer, I like doing that. If I have to stop the run, I like doing that. ... Whatever they want me to do, I'm just going to do it and try to make the best out of it."

Saturday

Kentucky at Vanderbilt

When: 12:21 p.m. TV: WKYT-27

Records: Kentucky 2-7 (0-5 SEC); Vanderbilt 5-4 (2-4)

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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