DJ Eliot and Shannon Dawson just wrapped up the Media Day press conferences in the Wildcat Den. Here’s a quick recap before I head out on the field to do player interviews.
Eliot feels better about the depth on defense, but there’s still a ways to go
“I feel a lot better than when we got here about talent on defense,” Eliot said. “Depth is critical, it was critical last year, something we’re harping on in training camp this year is developing that depth.”
On that note…
Eliot says his goal is to be “two-deep plus one” at every position
Freddie Maggard got in his first press conference question ever this morning, and it was a good one. Freddie asked about the switch to the 3-4 defense and how many strongside defense ends Eliot plans to play per game. Eliot said that at every position on defense, he’d like to be “two-deep plus one.”
“We’ll be two deep plus one ready to play in every game,” Eliot said. “If you’ve got more, that’s great, but that’s the goal heading into camp.”
What about Miggins and Bell?
JuCo defensive linemen Courtney Miggins and Alvonte Bell just arrived on campus this week, but Eliot said he’s already excited about working with them.
“I think both those guys have a lot of talent, they’ll be more experienced in college football in general than a freshman because they’ve played two years,” Eliot said. “I think they have a chance to do some great things. I’m looking forward to working with them.”
He seemed particularly high on Mike Edwards and Darius West
Safeties Mike Edwards and Darius West redshirted last year, and Eliot immediately perked up when asked about them.
“Extremely talented,” Eliot said. “I think those guys have a very bright future here. Fortunately, we’re starting to develop some depth in the secondary, we haven’t necessarily had that in the past.”
It says A LOT about the staff’s recruiting and development that two “extremely talented” kids coming off redshirt may not get a ton of playing time because of the depth already at their position.
Shannon Dawson is a smartass and I love it
No offense to DJ Eliot, who is now very comfortable in front of the podium, but the show really started when offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson took the stage.
“Opening statement and then questions, right?” Dawson said as he got to the podium. “I’m excited, that’s my opening statement.”
Echoing the sentiments of many in the room, Dawson said “when football season comes around, it gives everybody reason to live, especially me.”
There’s a lot of depth at wide receiver, but it’s “young, inexperienced depth”
Much has been made about Kentucky’s woes at wide receiver the past few seasons, and this year, the Cats finally have a full stable to wideouts; however, Dawson stressed that while there is depth, it’s young and inexperienced.
“We have kids in that room that are capable of great things,” Dawson said. “I like my depth, but they’re young, inexperienced depth. Somebody needs to step up, bottom line.”
Ryan Timmons is one player that immediately comes to mind. Dawson praised Timmons’ versatility, and said the staff will have to “get creative” when drawing up plays for him.
“That kid, in my opinion, is good. You have to find ways to get him the ball,” Dawson said. “He’s one of those guys that can line up at multiple positions.”
Dawson had the quote of the day about Jacob Hyde
When asked about using 6’2″ 32o lbs. defensive tackle Jacob Hyde at fullback, Dawson gave us the quote of the day.
“There will be situations where there’s a half a yard and we want one,” Dawson said. “We’ll put his big ass in there and knock somebody out.”
Cue laughter all around.
Everyone’s pleased with Drew Barker’s maturity
As you might expect after his off-the-field issues last season and in the offseason, Drew Barker was a popular topic. Both Stoops and Dawson praised the work Barker has done both on and off the field in recent months.
“Drew Barker is a great kid, a talented kid. His maturity since I got here has grown,” Dawson said. “I’m glad I’m not judged on what I did at 18, 19.”
Me too. Drew Franklin infinity.
Dawson loves the skill sets and personalities at running back
“That whole running back room is set up where everybody’s got personality and skill sets that are a little bit different than the next person, which is really really good,” Dawson said of his rushers. He praised JoJo and Boom in particular.
“Dynamic skill set. The kid can obviously outrun everybody on the field,” Dawson said. “I love his skill set, I love his personality. We’ve got to get him the ball.”
When asked about the differences between West Virginia and Kentucky, Dawson joked that so far, because of his busy work schedule, they seem pretty similar. “I’m at my house with my wife and daughter, and then I’m at the office,” Dawson joked. “I keep it simple. I’m not very smart.”
As Susan Lax said amid laughs, “we’ll end it there.”