▪ Still stinging: There are plenty of things that still bug the Kentucky defense about that loss to Vanderbilt last season, including but not limited to, the trick play for a touchdown. “One play that seemed unreal,” cornerback Derrick Baity said. “They snuck a guy on the field and you didn’t know if he was in the game or out of the game and they just threw it to him and he scored. I don’t think they’re going to luck out this time.” That one stayed with safety Mike Edwards, too. “We let that get away,” he said. “They ran the ball for the most part and tried some trick stuff, got us off guard. … They got the best of us, so we’ve got to get better this game.” For UK’s defensive coordinator, it was the final nine-play, 23-yard drive that kept the Commodores on the field for more than four minutes. “That can’t happen,” Eliot said. “We should’ve been able to stop them and give the offense back the ball one more time.” But they can’t look back, only forward to this next one. “Last year it left a bad taste in our mouth, we’ve got to win this game,” Baity said. “That’s the type of game this is, we have to win.”
▪ Guys on the shelf: Remember how it took almost an entire half of the season for the Kentucky coaches to feel more comfortable playing some of their young defensive players like safety Mike Edwards and cornerback Derrick Baity? It sounds like that may be the case again this season with defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot implying that there are reinforcements and added depth coming. “We still have some guys on the shelf that we’re training, that we think are going to be ready to play soon,” he said, specifically mentioning players like defensive lineman Kengera Daniel and linebackers like Eli Brown, Kash Daniel and Jordan Bonner. “I think moving forward you’ll see those guys on the field more often.”
▪ Getting good rotation: The goal is to have rotatable depth at all 11 spots on the field, something that UK hasn’t had in recent years. “Last year at defensive line – I think we were able to rotate at defensive line last year,” Eliot said of if he’s ever had depth at every spot. “And at certain positions we’ve been able to rotate, but I don’t think we’ve had all 11 since I’ve been here. I don’t think we’ve been able to rotate all 11.” UK has seen positive results at several positions where it’s rotated players in and out, especially on the defensive line with players like T.J. Carter, Tymere Dubose and Naquez Pringle becoming key playmakers. Tired players can’t make as many effective plays. “We don’t want a player playing every rep,” Eliot said. “We want somebody to be able to come in and spell every player at every position. And that’s our goal, and we’re getting very close that.”
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