By LARRY VAUGHT
Because his team has been more consistent, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Thursday this was UK’s best overall spring practice in his four years with the Wildcats.
“We have grinded these guys pretty good since they’ve been back. We needed that. We had to do that. Going back to last season, as they went home for their break and they came back, they came right in and they hit the ground running in the weight room,” Stoops said.
“As I’ve said many times, we needed to get stronger, and we’ve done that. We had a good winter, we’ve worked longer and harder in the winter, and our spring practices have been longer. And the guys focused. They’ve been able to handle it more, and that’s what I appreciate about them.
“As I mentioned, last Saturday maybe was the one day I walked off the field maybe a little disappointed, and that’s a good thing, because it does get long. We’ve been out here practicing with these guys for six weeks now and grinding them, if you count the (spring) break. Because we go Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, that stretches it out, but we need that.
“We need that time in the weight room, we need that time in the meeting rooms in between practices so we can really take our time and teach and push these guys. So for that reason, I feel like we’ve gotten a lot more work done.”
Kentucky ends spring practice with Saturday’s Blue-White Game at noon. Stoops wants to see players make routine plays look routine.
“When they’re open and we’re throwing and catching the ball, I want good, crisp throws, good catches, get up field and get some yards. Same thing with the defense: good tackles, position on the football. I don’t want us out-leveraged. I want us looking like a good football team,” Stoops said.
“There’s some inexperience out there and it’s always nice to see them in a game situation. We can’t get enough of those snaps where we’re out there in front of a crowd with the runs and play-actions and boots – put it all together and see guys in good position. I want to see good, competitive plays. I want to see guys having success because they made good plays, not from one side or the other being inept.”
New offensive coordinator Eddie Gran says he doesn’t want to see anything “sloppy” Saturday.
“Come out and have fun, play with energy, come off the ball, be physical. When we throw, catch. Do all the little things right. It’s going to be a very, very condensed game plan. There’s not going to be a lot — there might be some disappointed people — but it’s a spring game,” Gran said. “You want to get out of there with everybody healthy. You want to score some points and you want to be successful. You want to come out of there feeling good about yourself.”
He said fans should expect a normal tempo game.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot wants to see effort and enthusiasm.
“I want to see good, fundamental, clean football. Good football is when both sides execute and somebody makes a play. Bad football is when somebody succeeds because somebody else isn’t executing,” Eliot said. “So when you watch a game you want to see both sides execute and then one of those players wins his one on one, and that’s good football.”