Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops breaks down scrimmage, LB issues and defensive evolution


“Good Monday morning. Took them – had to get them going a little bit, but we’re going to challenge them this week. We’ve got to get a lot of work done this week. It’s critical that we keep on pushing forward and have a great couple weeks here as we’re about a third of the way through camp. Got some good situational work done today, some more third downs, good physical practice. So overall pleased. As you know, we’ve got a lot of work to do, so that’s what we’re excited about. Talked about embracing this week, have another good practice today, true two-a-day Monday and Wednesday. So five practices in three days, and we’ve got to get a lot better.”

On what he saw on film from Saturday’s scrimmage: “Some good things. Felt like we really took care of the football. Quarterbacks made good decisions. We were efficient. Defensively, we only gave up one explosive play, and that was off a play that looked like it was going to be an interception and Juice ended up making a very difficult catch and made a big play out of it. So it was good that we kept the explosives down on defense. Need to add more; as we get going defensively, we need to add more in our package for situations, whether it be two-minute or third down. We’re starting to get first and second down anchored down on what we want to do. We’ve got to fundamentally continue to get better. But I thought we did a good job. I thought offensively, we were smart with the ball. If we got in second and long we got five, six yards back. Was very efficient on third down. There was some good on both sides of the ball.”

On Mikel Horton's prognosis:Mikel was out here today. Amazing what happens when you got a lot of depth.” (Laughter)

On how nice it is to have spots where guys have urgency to return:It is, and I don't mean that about Mikel because he wants to be out there and play, but it's like that across the board. It's very good. We're not taking one step back. We're gonna push forward and guys are gonna learn to fight through adversity. You're not meant to feel real good right now, in two-a-days and the heart of this right now. You're gonna be bumped and bruised and banged up a little bit, so it's very good. We have a lot more bodies out here. That's for sure.”

On what scrimmage tape showed at defensive tackle position:I think a guy like Alvonte Bell has really got to step up and he did some better things. That was good to see. We have some flexibility in our package on what we can do with Denzil and Josh, as well. So we're getting creative and doing some different things. We'll be fine.”

On Adrian Middleton: “Adrian did some good things. He’s much better on first and second down. He needs to be who he is, and that’s a good run defender and being stout and being strong in there. He’s getting much better. He’s made some big jumps in the last four or five days.”

On if any freshman defensive backs are playing nickel with Blake McClain playing more safety: “No, we’re exploring a few different things. Kendall (Randolph) always plays nickel well. So, no the freshmen are playing mostly, primarily at corner, because they’re both I think have big, big upside at corner. So, we’re getting a lot of work with them. And J.D. (Harmon) is very flexible. J.D. in the scrimmage played nickel, corner and safety, so it’s nice to have that versatility with him. But now with Darius (West) gone down we’ve got to settle in with J.D. primarily playing corner with the three guys with experience right there. Fooling around with Kendall inside. He’s a good inside player. He’s a lot like Blake. He could play some corner, but he’s more efficient at nickel, dime and safety. They’re good cover guys in there, and then as you get bigger you go with Marcus McWilson at safety and so on and so on. We have some flexibility. Kobie (Walker) is a guy that’s very explosive. Kobie Walker is doing some good things. He’s a little bit of a tweener, but he’s a very good rush guy. He’s very active when he rushes. We need that, but he’s also in between. He’s kind of got a linebacker body, but he runs very good. So we can play him in some packages as well. So, we’re starting to fool around with a lot of that stuff.”

On if he’s seen more consistency from the wide receivers: “I have. I’ve seen much more consistency with our receivers. They’ve grown a lot. I like the way they’re going about their business. They’ve been very energetic. They’ve been leaders. They’ve been making plays and if they’ve made a bad play or a drop, they’ve just moved right along and made the next one. I’ve been very pleased with the progress we’ve made there.”

On good and bad at linebacker in scrimmage: “Yeah, we weren’t very good Saturday. We’ve got to get some things ironed out, just assignment wise and getting to the football and that’s the beauty. That’s why you have to scrimmage with live bullets with all the play action and as you get into game mode, those guys need the work more than anybody. We’ll get it ironed out. We were not real disciplined in our drops. We were not real disciplined in our fits and weren’t around the football enough.”

On leadership program under Jason Cummins: “Yeah, Jason’s wonderful. He’s a great guy for me to lean on. I just visited with him all the way over until I got with you guys and Jason makes a big difference. What’s really nice is I see the growth in our team as I talk to them and speakers like Jason come in and talk to them you see the guys sitting on the edge of their seat taking notes, paying attention, being very much into it. That’s what it takes and that’s what we’ve talked about. You’ve heard me talk about it all summer. Not just out here on the field, but in all parts of their life being more disciplined and he’s made a big impact.”

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