Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Defensive coordinator Eliot previews Charlotte

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot met with the media tonight to preview the Cats’ game with Charlotte on Saturday ...

Opening statement: "Rainy day. Practiced in the indoor so had to utilize space, but the kids didn’t let it be a distraction to them. They went about their business. We had pads on so we got a chance to tackle. That’s important. You always want to play physical when you’re on defense. We had a good upbeat practice and like I said, we had to transition to the indoor because of rain but it didn’t change anything."

On how the defense has responded since a good showing at Vanderbilt: "I think our guys have responded as good as they can. They have a great attitude and they’re working hard. They’ve kept the focus on just the next opponent and getting better."

On Jason Hatcher’s improved play: "Jason is a good, not only player, but had a lot of energy. He brought a lot of enthusiasm to the field. I expect him to continue to do that and bring that to every game."

On the difference Hatcher makes when he’s playing at a high level: "I think any time you get a good player on the edge, whether it’s pass rush or whether it’s setting the edge and making tackles for a loss, it definitely sets the mentality. It also, like I said, gains enthusiasm. That’s something that we’re going to need to have and continue to build on."

On how the team stays enthusiastic after another loss: "We just concentrate on ourselves. We look at improving as a team and as a defense. Each player has plenty of things that he can get better at. That’s what our emphasis has been and that’s what the players focus has been. We’re not really focusing on anything else besides getting better and getting ready for our next opponent."

On what the defense did better last week as opposed to the three before that: "We played really good on third down. Had a lot of three-and-outs. We had a better first down efficiency. Played the run well. We did some good things on Saturday."

On what he saw on Vanderbilt’s trick play: "They ran a trick play on us. They tricked us. We didn’t see it until it was too late."

On if someone in the coaching box saw it: "No, they just saw it too late. We just didn’t see it in time and they got us."

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