LEXINGTON Ky. — The Wildcats finished their midweek practice Wednesday and defensive players and coaches were available afterward to talk Florida.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday in The Swamp and the game will be broadcast on CBS. Here’s what you need to know from the latest round of interviews.
What we learned
- The Wildcats are preparing for the raucous atmosphere in The Swamp. Practices aren’t open to the media but obnoxious crowd noise was being pumped into the practice field and was every bit as loud from our spot outside the gates. Saturday will be the first road start of sophomore QB Drew Barker’s career.
- Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot didn’t offer much in his evaluation of Florida QB Luke Del Rio: “I think Luke, for his first start, he didn’t seem too rattled considering the situation he’s been under,” Eliot said. “I don’t think he seemed too rattled.”
- Junior college transfer DT Naquez Pringle and freshman DE T.J. Carter are two players that might start to see more playing time up front: “Naquez is extremely strong, he’s a big load, he’s hard to move,” Eliot said. “He can knock people off the ball. And then T.J., for his size, is extremely athletic and physical. T.J. has a lot of talent as a defensive lineman. We’re wanting to get both of them on the field and trying to get them ready.”
- Senior starting DE Courtney Miggins would gladly welcome an expanded rotation: “Definitely,” Miggins said. “Just to rest up for a little bit. That’ll be a huge help because right now we lack in depth a little bit.”
- Junior LB Courtney Love said the defense called a team meeting Monday after its lackluster performance against Southern Miss. “Our defense is a close defense and we understand what we have and what we’re facing this week and throughout the rest of the season,” Love said.
What he said … What we think he means
D.J. Eliot on if he expected better depth on defense in his fourth year:
“I think that we’ve had some good players at different positions, but we’ve never really had them all at the same time. We had Bud (Dupree) and Za’Darius (Smith) here for a while, but we didn’t have the secondary that we have here. I think that we’ve been able to develop players at different positions. We haven’t necessarily been able to develop enough for an SEC schedule at every position.”
What we think he means: Yes, more depth on defense was expected at this point. The Wildcats have recruited well under coach Mark Stoops, a former defensive coordinator, but Saturday’s loss to Southern Miss proved the lack of depth. The coaching staff was unwilling to give non-starters significant playing time, but now it seems there’s no other choice moving forward.
What we need to know
- How will the Wildcats stop the run? The Florida offense didn’t put Del Rio in too many tight spots against Massachusetts and it looks like the Gators will continue that game plan Saturday. Why wouldn’t they? Southern Miss gashed UK on the ground for 296 yards in Week 1 and Florida would be wise to implement a similar attack.
Watch: D.J. Eliot interview
Quote of the day
Sophomore CB Chris Westry, a Florida native, asked if he grew up a Gators fan:
“I didn’t really grow up a football fan. I was just a video gamer. I wasn’t a football fan like that.”
- Senior FS Blake McClain was injured late in Saturday’s game and was unavailable to speak to the media Wednesday. He wasn’t listed on the depth chart released Monday.
- Sophomore LB was Josh Allen was “in and out” of certain drills, Eliot said.
Other news you need to know
- Mark Stoops is tired of talking about the streak.
- Tuesday’s update on the offense.
- Five key things UK needs against Florida.
- Stoops is tired of dealing with “fragile mentalities.”
Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_mussatto. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.