Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: LB inexperience irrelevant now, special teams still ‘fluid’

Mark Stoops wants to get work done

After Monday morning's practice, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops said he's really going to push his team this week. UK opens the season Sept. 3 against Southern Miss.
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After Monday morning's practice, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops said he's really going to push his team this week. UK opens the season Sept. 3 against Southern Miss.

▪  Tale of the tape: Mark Stoops’ initial assessment of the linebackers after Saturday’s scrimmage “just OK, wasn’t real pleased” didn’t get much sunnier after breaking down the video later that day. After Monday’s practice, Stoops added: “We weren’t very good Saturday.” That group, specifically the inside linebackers, are struggling with assignments and getting to the ball. “We were not real disciplined in our drops,” he said. “We were not real disciplined in our fits and weren’t around the football enough.” Most of the issues that coaches saw were with the inside linebackers, said Matt House, who coaches that unit. “We didn’t do a very good with pulling and the run-fit game,” he said. “We’ve just got to be more exact in our run fits and guys doing what they’re supposed to do.” House said he’s done accepting the “inexperienced” excuse. “It doesn’t matter at this point. You just have to go.”

▪  Faces in the crowd: After living in Florida for the past few years and working with horses, former Kentucky star Moe Williams has returned to campus to finish his degree and work as a student assistant for the football team. Williams holds the single-season rushing record with 1,600 in 1995 and is second in school history in career rushing yards with 3,333. Also at practice today was former UK running back Derrick Locke.

▪  Injury updates: Running back Mikel Horton, who had an ankle injury in the scrimmage, was back on the field for practice Monday. “Amazing what happens when you got a lot of depth,” Stoops joked, before adding: “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.”

▪  Special teams updates: After the second scrimmage on Saturday, coaches will make a final determination for what players will play on which special teams units, with House calling it a “moving, fluid situation” at this time. As for the punter, it’s still a wide open competition between sophomore walkon Bryan Kirshe and true freshman Grant McKinniss. No decision has been made, the special teams coordinator said.

▪  ‘Heart was still pounding:’ Junior wide receiver Charles Walker met with the media for the first time since he was given a full scholarship in a team meeting over the weekend. The former walkon from Louisville St. Xavier still seemed a little shocked by it all. “My heart was about to jump out of my body,” he said. “After it happened we had about an hour and a half of meetings. My heart was still pounding because I hadn’t called my parents yet. After that I got out and called my parents and they couldn’t understand me with how fast I was talking. I thought it was going to explode out of my body.”

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