After watching his team participate in a live 11-on-11 scrimmage for the first time in the 2019 season, Mark Stoops left Kroger Field without much conviction.
“It was just okay. We have a lot of work to do,” Stoops said. “I was really pleased with the offense. Offensively, I thought we really played and did some good things.”
‘Just okay’ is typically how a defensive coach describes a scrimmage in which his side of the ball plays poorly. Once he started talking about the defense, it was obvious that his unit did not play with the effort and enthusiasm he wanted to see.
“Defensively, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Stoops. “I was disappointed with the strength of our team. The inexperience — no excuse — but you know you’re going to make some mistakes and some things are going to happen, but the strength of our team needs to be the strength. Today I just didn’t feel like we were up to the challenge defensively and that’s disappointing. Fortunately, we have a lot of time left to get some things rectified.”
Aside: “The strength of our team needs to be the strength” might be the greatest ambiguous coaching line Stoops has used in seven years at Kentucky. What a football guy.
The strength of UK’s defense is in its front seven. Saturday morning they failed to consistently find the right fits in the run defense. While it frustrated the defensive coach, the offense excelled; that is, when they did not shoot themselves in the foot.
“Things that set us back are some typical mistakes, things that have hurt us in the past. We gotta get those corrected. Just getting behind the chains and penalties; we were a little sloppy in that way. We did take care of the football, but anytime we got behind the chains with a sack or any negative yardage plays, it was hard to overcome. But overall, they did some good things.”
Sloppy plays are to be expected in the first preseason scrimmage. Now that the Cats have worked through the kinks, they must keep the mistakes in the past.
“We’ve got to have to have a really high sense of urgency. There’s just no time for wasted time and wasted reps,” UK’s head coach told his team. “There can always be more.”