Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops had some harsh words for his defensive players after Wednesday’s practice leading up to the South Carolina game.
A day after offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said the defense had practiced well and “got after our rear end,” it was Stoops all over the defense’s collective back side.
Turns out, the defense followed a strong day with an abysmal one.
“We absolutely regressed today, and that’s our problem,” Stoops said after practice on Wednesday night. “Until we get it changed, we’re gonna have the same darn results that we have in that stadium which is bull crap.
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“So until we grow up and get a mentality about us and have some guys step up and get tougher, then we’re gonna look like the same bunch of crap.”
There is an overall lack of maturity on the field, the head coach said.
“We have no idea what it takes to have concentration, from the beginning of the week through the end and through a whole game and so on,” he said. “You get the picture? We’re not real tough, we’re not real smart and we’ve got a long way to go.”
That long way to go is evident on the field with Kentucky among the worst in the nation in scoring defense (No. 122 out of 128) allowing 43.7 points a game. The Cats are No. 122 in total defense as well, yielding an average of 528 yards per game and 6.14 yards per play.
Kentucky is the worst rushing and passing defense in the Southeastern Conference three games into the season as well.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot called Wednesday’s practice “discouraging.
“We’re just immature,” Eliot continued where Stoops left off. “I don’t know why we just can’t lock in and go to work every day. We just can’t take it seriously every day and that’s disappointing.”
During a fall camp that had been relatively Stoops rage-free, he was full of it on Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We try to teach, try to coach, try to educate, and sometimes all that don’t work. The truth is the truth. If we’re so fragile we can’t handle the truth, we’re not going to win many games. I told them the truth.”
There was no question Stoops was trying to send a message that enough is enough, senior defensive back Blake McClain said.
So what can the players do to put their coach in a better mood?
“Play, play well, do what we’re supposed to do and communication,” McClain said.
“We haven’t played our best football. It’s coming. We’re young, very young in the secondary and the defense as a whole, so just growing pains is really what it is.”