After an emotional return to action against Middle Tennessee State, Kentucky will continue to play Josh Paschal through the final two games of the 2018 season.
“He did a good job, he really did,” Mark Stoops said at his weekly press conference. “Josh did some good things. He’d be the first one to tell you as he gets on his feet, he’ll get better and better with every opportunity. I noticed it last week between Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice.”
Paschal recorded one tackle and was honored by the SEC as Co-Defensive Player of the Week. He played about 18 snaps from UK’s “Jack” outside linebacker position.
“We played him at the Jack because we needed him. We were really thin. I was joking with him throughout the week. I said, ‘I wouldn’t have had you gain all that weight if you were playing back at Jack.’ He looked a little funny at that weight standing up on his feet, but he can do it, as you know, he’s really athletic.”
Stoops added, “You put a 280-pound man up there playing at Jack, playing in coverage, it’s not easy. You guys have heard me talk about that for a long time. Josh Allen makes it look easy at 260, but that’s uncommon.”
Paschal played Jack and defensive end as a true freshman. In the offseason he transitioned into a defensive end, but an injury to Jordan Wright forced Paschal to stand up last Saturday. Stoops expects Wright to return to action against Louisville after dealing with an “iffy” knee injury. Tymere Dubose will also return from a one-game suspension.
Moving forward, Paschal will remain at Jack for the rest of the year and likely return to a three-point stance on the defensive line in 2019. Stoops plans on playing Paschal in the final two games, although he’s unsure of the extent.
“We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how he is this week and what he can to contribute, but he’ll be in there moving forward.”
Paschal’s made it through the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. The next step is getting more comfortable on his feet. The reps he’ll receive in the final two games will make sure he does not miss a beat when his redshirt sophomore season begins in 2019.