Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Kentucky’s House on what defense has to do to improve on solid start


On if performance on film was as good as it was live: “There were some good things. There’s still stuff like every game to clean up. We really just got to keep improving every time we hit the grass.”

On what led to run defense improvement: “Guys doing their job. Guys straining. Guys playing with great leverage. You heard it over and over in training camp, and it doesn’t change from week to week: Playing fundamentally sound football and having guys with hats to the ball with great leverage and pad level.”

On Darius West’s performance: “Darius did a good job. He did. He had a couple things mentally to clean up, but for the most part for the first time playing football in a long time he did a really nice job.”

On if it was nice to see Darius West get rewarded with the forced fumble: “Yeah. He did the uncommon things uncommonly well is what we’re telling him. If you do those things, most of the time you’re going to make plays.”

On what he needs to see from the secondary: “I think we’ve gotta play the ball in the air better. This quarterback does a good job. He gets rid of the ball on time. He’s got good receivers to throw to, so they’ll certainly present a challenge.”

On what he’d like to see improve on the 50/50 balls: “Going up and just becoming the receiver and taking the ball out of the air.”

On what he thought of Matt Elam’s game: “Matt did some good things. “He continues to improve, and he’s gotta continue to improve. But he did some things disruptive, in particular on the goal line.”

On how excited the edge rushers get in obvious passing downs: “I think anytime they get a chance to rush the quarterback. Let me tell you something now. EKU’s got two big, good backs too. It’s still gonna start with stopping the run. When you make a team one dimensional then you earn the right to rush the passer. But if you don’t stop the run you don’t earn the right to rush the passer.”

On Courtney Love having his best game and what he did well: “He was in better football position. He did a good job tearing off blocks. I thought on some of their counter schemes and zone schemes, he played downhill. He was just in better football position.”

On having production from eight defensive linemen that game: “Going in, Coach LeBlanc has done a great job developing that group. We knew with that heat and just our youth, our power was going to be in numbers. He did a good job selling that to the guys and he got a lot of production out of a lot of different guys, which was great.”

On LeBlanc’s quiet way of teaching: “You can be demanding without being loud. I think Derrick is a very demanding coach. He’s got his own way of going about it. He demands his guys do the right things fundamentally and do the right things within the scheme. And the other thing is he’s constantly with those guys developing them.”

On getting a boost from special teams: “Anytime you — what did he pin them down five times? — I know this, it’s a lot easier to play defense inside the 10 than it is outside the 50. I mean, it was huge. When you control the vertical field position like that, it gives you more margin for error.”

On what Paschal did in his time in the game: “He did a really good job rushing the passer; you guys saw that. He did some things setting the edge real well. He’s got to be more consistent with his pad level. And he’s got to be more consistent on the edge when he’s playing outside backer.”