Aside from a brief talking session with Mark Stoops tomorrow evening, Wednesday night was the last time we’ll hear from the Kentucky football team before they kick off the season against Toledo.
At this point, the Cats have said all they can say. UK’s defense is about as ready as they can possibly be. Defensive coordinator Brad White has prepared them for everything they should see on Saturday. What he can’t prepare them for is how they’ll react under the college football spotlight. A few of the most interesting things White had to say…
Play with Composure — White has stressed fundamentals all week long. Mistakes will be made, but if the defense does all of the little things correctly, those mistakes won’t hurt the Cats too much.
“There’s that fine line, that energy component. I want them to be flying around, but understand once that whistle’s blown, you can’t take anything extra,” he said. “We gotta wrap up. I think what everybody saw, whether it’s preseason NFL or week zero college football, it’s fundamentals. It’s tackling, keeping leverage on the football, all of those little things.”
Leverage has been the word of the week. UK will face a pair of running backs, Bryant Koback and Shakif Seymour, who have a habit are racking up yards after contact and have enough speed to create explosive plays.
“They’ve got a big, physical two-headed monster,” White said. “They’re good for that system. They understand how to push the edge, then get vertical. Both of them are really good yards after contact guys.”
Patience with Peters — Even if Xavier Peters is cleared to play before kickoff, don’t expect to see a lot of No. 5 on the field right away. He plays a complicated position in a new system and he’s still learning all of the nuances White teaches.
“Anybody that’s new at the outside linebacker position, it takes a little bit of time to be able to do everything that we ask of that position. We put a lot on their plates. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with it. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Less Mechanical Abule — The Nigerian-born defensive lineman has not played football for long. Entering his third season in Lexington, he appeared on his first depth chart this Monday. It didn’t take long for Abule to figure out the game on a whiteboard, but it has taken longer for him to feel comfortable in the trenches.
“He’s come a long way in these last 18 months since I’ve been here,” White said. “He’s starting to become more comfortable as a football player. He’s not just a physical, strong guy. He’s starting to get a little more fluid. He’s still got a little ways to go. It’s a little mechanical at times, but he’s starting to understand blocking schemes. He’s starting to understand what Coach LeBlanc is trying to teach him and how to be a natural football player because everything doesn’t happen like it’s drawn up on a blackboard.”
A Salute to Luck — Before he moved to Lexington, White was employed by the Indianapolis Colts.
“I was really, really fortunate to be around Andrew (Luck) for those six years. One of the best, not just football players I’ve ever been around, but really an unbelievable quality human being.”
White was just as shocked as the rest of America when Andrew Luck announced his retirement. He’ll always cherish the memories Luck made with his young son, Lincoln, who was pretty nervous to meet the neck-bearded stranger when he was three years old.
“He was really nervous,” recalled White. “He started to walk and dance like a penguin like he had learned in this music class. So every time Andrew would see us, ‘Hey how’s Lincoln doing? Is he still walking like a penguin?’ That was the kind of guy he was that he would remember those small details about your family. He cared enough to know.”
Click here to hear more from White.