Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Eliot discusses defensive standouts and developing a pass rush

D.J. Eliot high on Eli Brown

Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot talks about redshirt freshman linebacker Eli Brown, who has impressed the coaches in training camp.
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Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot talks about redshirt freshman linebacker Eli Brown, who has impressed the coaches in training camp.

D.J. ELIOT

“We got to practice a little in the rain, which is good to be underneath those elements. Got to be in the stadium again, which it’s good to be in that environment as much as possible. We are in the grind here, which is a good test for our players. We’ve got to push them through the grind. We’ve had already a good number of two-a-days. We’ve had some good, physical practices. We’ve got to continue to push our players to fight through the grind, fight through the grind because the SEC season is a grind. So, we’ve still got some things to clean up. We’ve still got a lot of time to do that. We’ve got another practice today and a chance to get better. We’re looking forward to that.”

On if they practiced the whole time in the stadium: “We moved in there. We moved in there. We moved in there. We practiced the majority of the practice in the stadium.”

On if it was a scrimmage situation: “No, just a regular practice. But we got some rain elements, which are good.”

On Nico Firios: “Nico is doing some good things. Nico was injured in the fall last year and missed a lot of reps in the offseason, so had a little rust on him to start with but he’s doing some good things to get better.”

On Kash Daniel: “Kash Daniel, it was good that he was here in the spring because it got him a little bit further ahead of the scheme and the playbook. Kash plays very hard. Kash is a physical player. Still has some assignment things and some technique things that he needs to improve on, but he’s doing a good job.”

On who he feels good about in the pass rush: “I think that Kobie Walker is doing an excellent job as a pass-rusher for us. Josh Allen and Denzil Ware do some good things, and then in the inside Courtney MIggins is doing some good things.”

On if facing Stephen Johnson in practice helps prepare for dual-threat QBs that have plagued them in the past: “Tremendous. Tremendous. Tremendous. We get live reps of that all the time, and it’s really been beneficial for us.”

On Eli Brown playing well: “That’s accurate. Linebacker play overall needs to be improved, but I thought Eli Brown’s play was good. I’ve seen some very good things from Eli. He’s probably made his biggest strides this training camp that he has since he’s been here.”

On what he likes about Eli Brown: “Eli has a knack of getting to the ball. He has very good instincts. He’s always in good body position. He’s an excellent tackler. He makes a lot of plays. His size was the concern last year. He’s put on some weight. He’s still growing. You know he still hasn’t played a snap of college football and there’s still a lot to learn, but I’ve been very impressed with his work over training camp.”

On Brown being a standby redshirt and if that was a benefit: “It can be because he’s not under that pressure to learn things right away so he can take things slowly. He can really concentrate on the details of things because he’s not expected to know the whole scheme by Saturday. I think it can be beneficial and I think it was for Eli.”

On cornerback Derrick Baity: “I think Derrick, he earned a starting job last year halfway through the season. Chris (Westry) had earned his starting job at the beginning of the season, so Derrick had played half as many games as Chris. We went into the offseason and the spring and I thought Derrick had an excellent offseason and spring. He really played well this spring and he’s continued to play well in training camp. Derrick has made himself into a very good player.”

On what Walker is doing to impress him: “He’s extremely athletic and he’s got great change of direction. He’s got a lot of speed and burst. He’s tough for an offensive lineman to get their hands on because of his athleticism.”

On what’s encouraging about defensive line and what he still needs to see:I think the encouraging point is the play of Courtney Miggins. Courtney Miggins is a player that didn’t get here until August last year and was a second team player the whole season last year. This year he’s been in that starting role. He got to go through an offseason workout, he got to go through a summer workout, got to go through a spring ball, and I’ve really seen his play pick up. The concerns are we’ve got to get better at every other D-Line position. I think Courtney Miggins is the one that’s playing really well and all the other ones need to get better.”

On how Miggins ended up at Kentucky:Coach Brumbaugh recruited him from (Pearl River Community College). He’s in the same class as Alvonte Bell. They were teammates there. We signed both of those guys out of (Pearl River Community College). Courtney’s from the Atlanta area and went to (Pearl River Community College) out of high school.”

On how linebackers are executing blitzes and what they need to work on:Well, anytime you start running a lot of different blitzes, that comes with a lot of assignment. And the look has to look right. I tell our defensive players all the time, I’m not trying to beat the offensive coordinator. I’m trying to beat the quarterback. I’m not trying to confuse the offensive coordinator. I’m trying to confuse the quarterback. So when they run a blitz if they don’t make it look a certain way, then that’s not confusing the quarterback. So it’s executing the assignments and making that blitz look the right way.”

On if that is tough to do with lack of experience at LB:Anything’s tough to do when you have guys that don’t have a whole lot of experience. (Laughter) Anything.”

On if blitz schemes are particularly tougher:I don’t think so. They’re all tough. Everything’s tough when you don’t have guys with experience. But we’ve had a good camp and I think we’ve come a long ways.”

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