Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Kentucky’s Eliot on scout team, redshirt standouts and defensive depth

D.J. Eliot: Georgia Tech knows how to get first downs

Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot talked Tuesday about preparing for Georgia Tech's triple option offense, which UK will face in the Taxslayer Bowl on Dec. 31.
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Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot talked Tuesday about preparing for Georgia Tech's triple option offense, which UK will face in the Taxslayer Bowl on Dec. 31.

D.J. ELIOT

“Had a nice warm day of practice today. (Laughter) But it was good. Guys have been fired up. It's been great to get these extra practices, and we've had some good, physical practices and that's what we need to do. We've got to continue to not only be good at being a technician but we've got to be a physical defense, too. That's good that we were able to do that today. Proud of their efforts. We got another one tomorrow, so we'll take care of business and then go from there.”

On importance of scout team giving defense a good look: “Critical, especially this week, facing an offense that they don't see – ever. So we have to have that look because they're not used to getting those type of reps, and the speed of the game. If we've got guys that can play fast and give us that look, then we're gonna play faster on the game.”

On if any redshirt players have stood out in extended reps: “Yeah, at my position I think Jamar (Watson) and Jaylin (Bannerman) are doing some good things and they’ve got a bright future here. Then Davonte Robinson has done some really good things. I think that our young defensive linemen are going to be good players, Kordell Looney, Ja’Quize Cross. Across T.J. isn’t redshirted, but he’s playing this year for us as well. So I think that we have some good young players, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to work with them throughout this bowl preparation.

On what he remembers from the last time he faced Georgia Tech and how tough it is to prepare for them: “I remember that we were holding on to get stop. If you could just get a stop against them is a victory. These guys, they know how to get first downs and that’s the key, is being able to prevent them from getting first downs. Fortunately for us we were able to do that in 2012 and we’re going to use some of that to move forward.”

On how he feels about his depth now versus the beginning of the year seeing how Georgia Tech will try to control the clock: “I feel better about the depth. I think guys like Jordan Bonner have played better. Guys like T.J. Carter are playing better. I think that some of our linebackers are doing some good things. Eli Brown, Kash Daniel. I think our defense overall has been able to develop depth and this bowl preparation and these extra practices have helped us tremendously on developing that depth.”

On challenges for outside linebackers and defensive ends against this offense: “It can be difficult. It sure can. It’s something they’re not used to seeing. We’ve had some good practices; we’re getting some good looks from our scout team and I’m pleased with our progress.”

On importance of charity work for team during down time before bowl: “I think that those things are tremendous. It shows we can use our exposure in college football to help others in need and around the holiday season, that’s critical because those are the times when those people may not be in their best spirits so if we can lift their spirits then it’s just a wonderful feeling.”

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