One of Kentucky’s top defensive players has been suspended for Friday’s bowl game.
Denzil Ware, who finished the regular season sixth on the team in tackles with 47 and second in tackles for loss (nine) and sacks (6.5), will not play against Northwestern in the Music City Bowl.
Coach Mark Stoops was not clear about the reason behind the suspension of the junior outside linebacker, who was not at practice Tuesday afternoon, but Ware is expected to be with the team for the game.
“Denzil will not participate in the bowl game, violation of team rules and I cannot elaborate anymore on that,” Stoops said after the practice at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
When asked if he expected the junior linebacker to return next season or if the violation will linger into next season, Stoops said: “No further comment on that.”
In the practice on Tuesday, a bulk of the first-team reps that would’ve gone to Ware instead went to freshman Josh Paschal, who had 14 tackles, including 3.5 for loss with 2.5 sacks this season.
Ware’s loss will hurt UK in terms of depth, Stoops said, adding that Paschal would be used a lot more with Kengera Daniel backing him up.
Ware played in all 12 games during the regular season and started seven. He wreaked havoc in a multitude of ways, including forcing two fumbles this season and recovering two others. He had an interception and was credited with two quarterback hurries.
The defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid standout recorded six tackles in the Louisville game, but also was involved in the melee on the Cats’ sideline involving several Cats and Cardinals players.
Video showed up online of what appeared to be Ware throwing a trash can during that sideline skirmish.
On his radio show the Monday after the loss to Louisville, Stoops said he met independently with Ware and had a “long conversation” with him about what happened. But Stoops again didn’t elaborate on what — if anything — would result from that incident.
Other players involved in the skirmish all were practicing Tuesday.
Other news and notes
Don’t be surprised to see more of running back A.J. Rose in the Music City Bowl. The little-used redshirt freshman has made big strides toward the end of the season, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said.
“He’s had a great couple of weeks and he was doing that before we even left (Lexington) the last couple weeks of the season,” Gran said. “So I want to get him in there. I want to get him in there early.”
Rose, who didn’t play in the final two regular-season games, has had 13 carries for 32 yards this year.
• The field at Vanderbilt was a festive place Monday with UK’s players practicing on Christmas Day for the upcoming bowl game.
“We had some good Christmas music before practice and guys were singing, having a good time,” said Gran, who added they also had a great team dinner. “I think everybody is thankful we’re here.”