LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Wildcats practiced Wednesday evening. Defensive players and coaches were available afterward to speak to the media.
UK is three days away from its matchup Saturday with New Mexico State at Commonwealth Stadium (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network). Here’s what you need to know from the latest round of interviews.
What we learned
- Coach Mark Stoops said Wednesday afternoon that he will take a “much more involved” role on defense. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was asked about the comment after practice: “Well, as a head coach he’s got a lot of duties, but he’s always been involved in the defense. Now we’re together on a lot of things. He’s helping us and he’s doing everything he can as another coach on the defensive staff, which is really good. Anytime you can get a coach like coach Stoops to coach with your players and be involved in the game plan, it’s a good thing.
- Stoops said he was going to take a bigger role and apparently it’s already gone into effect. Junior LB Courtney Love on if he’s noticed a change this week: “Oh yeah. Definitely,” Love said. “I think that’s a great thing when you can get our head coach involved in our defense. He’s obviously a defensive guy and then get him and coach Eliot in there just pretty much working together and honing in on what this defense needs to do.”
- Love wasn’t the only one who’s noticed the change. Senior DB J.D. Harmon said Stoops is everywhere in the planning process: “He’s been in and out each meeting room,” Harmon said. “We’re meeting all together defense more and he’s making sure he’s coaching everybody, really. He knows the defense in and out. He’s took it upon himself to make sure he’s on the field more, interacting with players at different positions, coaching those key techniques he talks about in the meeting room and transitioning it to the field.”
- Eliot was asked who his “difference maker” on defense has been and the coach was honest: “We don’t have one yet. We still are trying to find who that’s going to be.”
- Sophomore cornerbacks Chris Westry and Derrick Baity were hyped in fall camp as potential difference makers, but Baity said up until now he feels like he’s “embarrassed” the coaches: “They can only do so much,” Baity said. “They’re coaching. We’re the ones that gotta go out there and play.” Baity later went on to say he would apologize to the whole Big Blue Nation if he could.
What we need to know
- In what tangible way will Eliot’s duties change with Stoops taking a more active role in defensive game planning? Stoops reiterated Wednesday that Eliot is his defensive coordinator, but for how much longer? Eliot got a raise last February and his contract runs through June 2018, but his job status is shaky at best moving forward.
Watch: J.D. Harmon interview
Quote of the day
Eliot on what he wants to see from his defense:
“I want to see guys be in the right spots and I want to see guys execute the call and if they get beat, they get beat. I can live with that.”