D.J. Eliot: “I’m looking for effort”

D.J. Eliot (Vicky Graff Photo)

D.J. Eliot (Vicky Graff Photo)

By GUY RAMSEY
UK Athletics

Fall camp doesn’t begin in earnest until its first two-a-day. Wednesday is that day for Kentucky football.
Halfway through, the Wildcats were handling it well.

“We had a good practice this morning,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “We gotta take that into this afternoon. We are getting a lot of different players reps in different positions, which is critical in training camp.”

Two-a-days are perfect for exactly that. Two practices, double the reps.

“Like we say every year, we have to establish depth,” Eliot said. “To do that takes reps. We have another practice this afternoon. We have a chance to get better this afternoon and even mix and match different guys in different spots this afternoon.”

With the indefinite absence of defensive tackle Regie Meant announced by Mark Stoops on Monday, defensive line is the area where the most significant shuffling is taking place. Along those lines, Eliot revealed exactly how they are “mixing and matching” up front early in camp.

“Matt (Elam) is still going at nose (guard) with the ones,” Eliot said. “Courtney Miggins is still going with the ones at end. Adrian Middleton has got some reps with that first-team tackle. Tymere Dubose has gotten some reps with that first-team tackle. Then I’ve also seen some good things from our freshman defensive tackles. T.J. Carter, Kordell Looney, Ja’Quize (Cross), they’ve done an excellent job. They’ve got a bright future here.”

The shuffling isn’t limited to the defensive line. It’s happening in the secondary as well.

“Our safeties are constantly rotating with who’s with the ones, who’s with the twos,” Eliot said. “Our nickel backs are constantly moving around, putting guys at different spots. Even at corner too. We’ve been getting guys reps in different groups at corner as well.”

At linebacker, Eliot said Denzil Ware and Josh Allen are standing out at the outside positions. Elsewhere, redshirt freshman Eli Brown has moved to the top of the depth chart at weak-side linebacker.

“Eli was able to redshirt last year so it enabled him to kind of take his time to learning the defense and concentrate on the little things instead of being force fed it for Saturday, so I think he’s picked up the defense better this fall than he did last,” Eliot said.

Whether it’s Brown or anyone else, the expectations are the same. So far they’re being met.

“I’m looking for effort,” Eliot said. “I’m looking for enthusiasm. I’m looking for fundamental play and I’m looking for execution. Now I don’t expect any of that to be perfect at this stage of camp, but considering what we have in and considering we have some new guys at some new spots, I’m pleased with where we’re at.”

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