Coach Stoops wasn’t too pleased with the physicality during the early practices in full pads. The players have figured that out quickly, adjusting to the added equipment by having their most physical performance of the early practice season. The new guys have adjusted to the higher tempo in practice, giving the coaches the physicality they were desperately seeking. The most impressive new guy has been JoJo Kemp. Coach Stoops loves when guys are nasty, nasty like pitbulls, “We do board drills, and I thought he was going to pull a knife out of his sock and stab somebody. He’s a pitbull, I love it.” Kemp has brought the fast-paced tempo from day one, with players and his position Coach Chad Scott having to slow him down at times, “I love his toughness. He dictates the tempo he’s not a follower. That’s what surprised me about him, is that he sets the tempo. He wants to be in there, he’ll jump in without somebody telling him.” Coach Scott has had to go as far as taking him out a few times when JoJo wanted to go up agaisnt guys 90 lbs heavier than him.
That tenacity has been infectious, spreading not only to the older running backs, but to other positions as well. Senior Jonathan George isn’t going to let a freshman one-up him, proving to Coach Stoops that he carries himself with that same mentality, “George is another guy, he’s a pitbull. He always wants up. Anytime there’s anything one-on-one, he wants to step up to the line and be physical. I love that attitude about him.” Freshman DT Regie Meant may have had to sit out of practice for the first week because of injury, but he shares that same nasty attitude, “Regie is one I noticed right away. The other day before he was cleared, we were doing board drills and getting after it. He was standing behind me and it looked like he was gonna hurt me if I didn’t let him go.” Meant will add depth to the defensive line that is bound to get banged up throughout the year. He may not have been the highest rated guy coming out of high school, but Meant is just as impressive as anyone else out there on the field, “I don’t care what he was rated out of high school, we wanted him, and sure enough he’s going to be a player.” It is still early, but the staff is very pleased with how the players have responded in just a short amount of time. They may not have the most skilled team in the SEC, but today proves that no matter what, they’re going down swinging.
– As you can see above, Offensive Lineman Zach Myers left practice early today after twisting his foot. Coach Stoops didn’t seem too terribly worried, saying it seems like ‘nothing major’, but the staff doesn’t know too much information about the severity of the injury so far. Myers had been alternating with Zach West as the #1 Center. It shouldn’t put him out of the race for the starting spot just yet, but West will have to abort many of his OG duties while Myers recovers.
– CB Cody Quinn also suffered from an ankle setback, further thinning the cornerback position. Nate Willis couldn’t have arrived on campus at a better time. He will be asked of a lot immediately, with the other #1 CB also being a newcomer, Jaleel Hytchye.
– Something that can only be noticed in person, is how much fun this staff and football team is having. The coaching staff has become much more comfortable with the media, whether it be Coach Stoops, Neal Brown, or even the grump DJ Eliot, they’re all having fun and sharing plenty of laughs with media members on a regular basis. Rather than carrying themselves with a tight-lipped demeanor, the staff has been very open and upfront when addressing the media. Previous coaches always talked about players playing better etc., but the way they said it made it hard to believe. This staff’s demeanor makes me believe that when they say “[insert player’s name] is playing well”, then he really is playing well. It’s also making my job a lot more fun.
– Neal Brown said today that there’s a ‘good chance’ that they won’t announce the starting QB before the season opener against WKU. “That’s going to be up to Coach Stoops, but I figure, Why tell Western?”