It was defensive day at Kroger Field, and if I had to sum it up in one word, it’d be simple: communication.
When special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach Dean Hood met with media members this morning, communication was one of his main talking points. In fact, it’s felt like a theme among all facets of Kentucky football during this spring season so far.
With the year just beginning, the team is still working out the kinks. There are some positions that lack the depth they were expecting – inside linebacker, for instance, which is now without Eli Brown (transfer) and Jamin Davis (minor knee injury, expected to miss 3-4 weeks) – and others with enough options to make the future order of the depth chart a mystery – quarterback, for example. The new guys are still working on learning the playbook, while the old guys are working on adjusting to a team missing some key veterans on both sides of the ball, i.e. Stephen Johnson and Courtney Love.
Combined, all of this boils down to one thing: communication. And according to Coach Hood, that’s something this team is still learning.
“It’s not only just them making the right call and communicating, but also that [call] getting across the ranks,” Hood said. “I make this call, and you’ve got to hear it, and you’ve got to make sure you relay it to the D-line or to the linebackers. It’s critical. All the way down the ranks – down the line – everybody’s got to get it.”
He says the defense has been working on this since the season started. And while the coaches and the players can get a feel for the level of communication – or lack-thereof – during practices, there’s no substitution for game-like experiences. According to Hood, the Cats have been going through “hybrid” practices/games on Saturdays this spring, meaning he’ll get another chance to watch for this communication during the team’s scrimmage this weekend.
“You want to see that incremental improvement in a lot of areas. Not only mentally understanding the defense, but finishing better… finishing on plays is really big,” Hood said. “Communication is really huge. Communication really shows its head if you’re in a true scrimmage situation as opposed to practice where you’re kinda yelling it out to them if they forgot. You’re just looking for incremental improvement.”