As I walked outside to the practice fields to hear from Coach Stoops after the Cats’ first day in pads, I heard the repetitive whistle. With the entire defense doing up-downs, all I could think was, “Here we go.”
“Average practice today. Not good enough. Just didn’t feel like we had the mentality that we needed. I don’t know. It’s too early in camp (for) guys feeling sorry about themselves for getting up early. Just an average practice. That’s really all I’ve got to say.”
The intensity just wasn’t there this morning, especially on the defensive side of the ball. You’d think they’d be excited to hit somebody for the first time in months; instead DJ Eliot was left disappointed, “They hadn’t put on pads in awhile, (so) I thought they’d be excited. I thought they’d be flying around. I thought we’d have to slow ’em down, not speed ’em up.”
What might have bothered Coach Stoops the most was the lack of leadership when things were going slow, “I’m not going to give them any place to hide.” Accountability is the name of the game for Stoops this season, calling on the upperclassmen to emerge as leaders. He thought the quarterbacks played pretty well today, but none of that really mattered to Stoops. He wants to see his quarterback take charge as a team leader when things aren’t clicking.
For most of the young guys, today was a reality check. Senior defensive tackle Mike Douglas is taking the opportunity to turn today into a learning experience, “I think after a day like today, you just have to talk to the young guys. ‘Even though we had a bad day, don’t let that leak into the next practice.'”
For Douglas, it’s all about looking forward and never behind, reiterating to the young guys, “After we watch film today, that’s the end of the day. You have to prepare for tomorrow. You have to start thinking about the next practice because we can’t get this practice back.”
Stoops challenged his team this morning. How they respond will reveal the fight and character of this football team.