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Eliot says UK has not developed enough depth at every position for SEC schedule

Kobie Walker talks to Mark Stoops. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Kobie Walker talks to Mark Stoops. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Wednesday he wasn’t sure if he could trust UK’s depth against Florida Saturday any more than he could last week when the defense was on the field for 96 plays in the loss to Southern Mississippi.

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said Wednesday that developing depth has been a major struggle for the last four seasons.

”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,” Eliot said.

“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.

“Some of that’s just because guys take longer, some guys take longer to develop, and some of that is that maybe we had a player like Bud that was so good why would we ever want to put his backup in? You know? So the younger player behind him didn’t get developed.”

Eliot says younger players have to execute in practice to get on the playing field and give the coaches confidence to play them.

“We’re working on that, we’re working on getting as many guys as we can ready for the games and today was another step in the right direction,” Eliot said.

Two players that could play more this Saturday at Florida are T.J. Carter and Naquez Pringle.

“They have a lot of ability. Naquez is extremely strong, he’s a big load, he’s hard to move. 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,” Eliot said.

But what happens if the young players are not ready and he has no confidence in them against Florida?

“We need to get more players on the field. We need to get more guys in the rotation. And so, you know, every day in practice is crucial,” Eliot said.

One player who figured to play more in game one was linebacker De’Niro Laster, but he played sparingly. Why?

“Laster is mainly working now at outside linebacker. He’s mainly playing outside linebacker. And so we’ve gone back and forth with him to figure out what’s the best fit for him and for us. That’s where he’s been getting a lot of reps now. He’s catching up on his assignments there and getting better every day,” Eliot said.

11 comments

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  1. Larry Pup

    I don’t know, but it seems to me these two guys, Stoops and Eliot, say one thing during the talking season, and something completely different when the losing starts.

    1. Larry Pup

      Let me add that Eliot’s comments are certainly not encouraging to fans or players as UK kicks off it’s SEC schedule Sat. on the road, in a hot place to play, against a team that owns them. Seems to me he would be better off saying nothing about his depth than to stand there and tell the whole world that his backup are not ready. Just remarkable to hear a coach say such a thing. If I were a backup that would hurt, and discourage me big time, with very little hope of ever seeing the field after busting my butt in the dog days of August. Who would want to play for somebody like that?

    2. Larry Vaught

      LarryPup, you are a wise man

      1. Larry Pup

        I don’t know about all that, but thanks anyway Larry V. You you are the best. Couldn’t do without VV’s and all you do for UK sports. I don’t know how you do it.

  2. OldFan

    Eliot has basically admitted the lack of prepared players is his own fault because he won’t take the starters out. Kids get to a point they learn more in the game than in practice. Many times you can just put someone in the actual game situation, and all of the sudden, the light comes on. They see what you have been harping on in practice. If a kid knows he is going to see game time, he will usually give more in practice. From Eliot’s words, why would a backup bust his but in practice, he isn’t going to see the field anyway. If depth is the only problem, there is only one way to get it, put them on the field for at least a play or two. See what happens. You might get lucky and find a diamond. In my opinion, four years is enough time to develop more than 15-16 adequate defensive players. Also, if he wants his defense to get off the field, make a stop. Don’t complain about the offense scoring to quickly, when you can’t stop the run you know is coming, over and over and over again. Blame yourself if you can’t get off the field.

  3. TheProfessor

    Every August has been the same. UK is bigger, faster, stronger, deeper, … AND this is going to be the year.

    Every September/October has been the same. UK is not big enough, fast enough, strong enough, deep enough …. TO compete in the SEC.

    Until it happens on the field, there is no basis to ever pay attention to the talk in August

  4. kbrown

    Depth? Are you kidding me? You couldn’t stop a Conference USA team from running the ball down your throats, and you’re talking about the players who didn’t play? Get some decent starters first, then talk about depth.

    1. Larry Vaught

      kbrown, we agree. For months heard about more depth on team. Lose one and excuse is no depth. Can’t be both ways

  5. RJ

    Coach Eliot: For the record, Southern Mississippi is not a SEC school or team. If I follow your logic correctly, KY can never compete in the SEC. “Players have to execute in practice prior to getting on the playing field”. Ergo, the players you recruited three years ago are still not executing??? “It takes longer for some player to develop than others”. Ergo, then KY will have only 11 – 15 players every year that is qualified to be on the field. I’m not a football coach but I can add and subtract. Every year, KY dresses some 70 to 80 players. Ostensibly, half of these are defensive players. Take away the starting 11 plus a couple, that leaves you with 39 players constantly under “development”. Take another 6 – 8 for special teams. So you’re saying on every annual squad, there are 30 (thereabouts) players that aren’t qualified to be on the field. Let’s say for argument you graduate, transfer, or quit the team, another 15 players every year and each year you add a Freshman class. Why are the people of KY paying for scholarships for 40 – 60 odd players every year that can never qualify to get on the playing field? And that’s just the defense! If I were Barney I would be asking you why you cannot develop players that have been around for three plus years!

  6. RJ

    The LH article on this subject I just read really exposes just how much the defensive coaching staff underestimated the Southern Mississippi team. KY really got only 11 to 13 players ready to play on defense for this game. Of course they blamed it on graduation but, really, did they think the starters alone could handle the SM offense for the entire game? I’m going to take a day off from reading about UK football. It’s too frustrating. It’s like watching a Charlie Chapman movie. Of course 90% of you are too young to know who Charlie Chapman was. 🙂

  7. Andy

    Surprised Eliot still has a job but it is what it is. Most likely we are headed 0-2.

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