– Today was one of the Cats’ last hard, physical practice before the WKU game. While they will remain in full pads tomorrow, the staff will start toning it down a bit after working multiple 3rd down situations today, lining up the #1s on both sides of the ball and ‘hitting it hard’. Upon the arrival of game week, Coach Stoops has seen many take their play to a new level, “I’ll be hesitant pointing out anybody specifically because I think there’s quite a few that have elevated their game. They’ve been locked in and have (paid) better attention to detail.”
– Mark Stoops has a little experience playing against WKU defensive coordinator Nick Holt. While Stoops didn’t actually prepare against his defenses while at Arizona, he was familiar with his style when Holt manned the USC and Washington defenses for 6 years, “you’re going to see some zone blitzes, you’re going to see a guy that likes to be very multiple, and he likes to jump into the Bear front and do different things with that (scheme).”
– A player that hasn’t received much notoriety since arriving to UK is one of my good friends TreVaughn Paschal. Often seen as a ‘tweener’, TreVaughn has been moved back and forth between defensive end and outside linebacker for most of his career, something that will benefit him this year. Described by Coach Stoops as “very fast, very explosive”, Stoops didn’t expect to see mobility from a primary defensive end, “When we stood him up, it surprised me. When Coach Eliot first brought it up to me I was a little hesitant, but I start looking at the numbers from our GPS system and I see how fast he’s running, he’s faster than any of our linebackers.” That mobility has earned him the starting spot at OLB whenever the Cats run a 3-4 defense.
– Coach Eliot shared a candid moment with the media when asked if he’s going to lose any sleep this week with the first game just beyond the horizon, “I don’t sleep well because I have 3 kids. I have a 3-year old that has a nightmare about every night, so the game isn’t going to change my sleep habits.”
– DJ Eliot reports that since Za’Darius Smith has returned to practice “he hasn’t missed a beat”.
– Speaking of Za’Darius, his added presence on the defensive line -along with Bud Dupree- is not only creating more big plays on the outside, but it allows the guys on the inside to use a much wider variety of tactics to get to the ball. Donte Rumph said today, “In the run and the pass game it gives me a little bit more mobility to do what I want. I can work an inside gap without worrying about losing containment, or I can work an outside gap and I know if I do get beat on the outside I know that I have Bud or Za’Darius right there. It builds my confidence to know that I have somebody on the outside watching my back.”
– For those blue-hairs that despise the addition of new uniforms outside of traditional UK colors, prepare to rejoice: Coach Stoops won’t be starting the year off against WKU with anything other than the traditional uniforms. While impressing recruits with flashy new unis is important, Coach Stoops is more worried about how they play on the field Saturday, not how they look.