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Eliot: UK defense can’t make right checks, adjustments

D.J. Eliot

D.J. Eliot

By LARRY VAUGHT

Want to know what is wrong with the Kentucky defense?

Well, defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot has the answer — but I am not sure UK fans will like it.

“The biggest issue that we’ve had is we haven’t been able to execute what we call. We haven’t been able to execute and run the defense effectively and make the right checks, make the right adjustments, get in the right spots. That’s been one of our problems, I think more than we anticipated,” Eliot said Wednesday.

Not get in the right spots? Not make the right checks?

Those are problems. But do you blame players or coaches for that? Or both?

“We lost our core of our linebackers and our defensive line last year, so they could handle a lot. Those guys last year could handle a lot of calls, they could adjust, they could get lined up, they could communicate, they could be in the right spots,” Eliot said.

Didn’t UK finish 5-7 last year and blow a 21-point lead to Louisville in the final game? How many players did UK lose that went to the NFL?

So forgive me for not quite buying what Eliot is saying.

“What we’re finding with this group is they can’t (adjust), so we’re trying to limit some of those communications, some of those checks, maybe some of those calls to get these guys where they can line up and play fast,” Eliot said.

Head coach Mark Stoops emphasized again Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference that he was taking a “more active role” with the defense this week after UK gave up 44 points to Southern Mississippi and 45 to Florida.

“As far as the structure of our staff, that has not changed. Coach Eliot is the defensive coordinator. I’m assisting him but I’m much more involved this week and I will be until we get things turned,” Stoops said.

Eliot said Stoops has “always been involved in the defense” and it certainly has appeared that way since his arrival at Kentucky.

“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,” Eliot said.

So what does Eliot want to see from his unit Saturday against New Mexico State?

“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. The frustrating thing is they’re getting yards because somebody didn’t cover the right guy or they’re getting yards because somebody wasn’t in the right run gap or they’re getting yards because somebody didn’t execute the blitz the right way,” Eliot said.

“Those are the frustrating things. I would like to see our players be in position to make the play and, you know what, if somebody’s better than them and they don’t make the play, then we can build on that. That’s what I want to see from our guys.”

My guess is that UK fans would like to see that — and more.

7 comments

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  1. OldFan

    If those are the problems, what have they been doing in practice. Didn’t they say earlier in the year they were doing great in practice and knew what was going on? Also, how do you explain the last 3 years?? Last year’s defense was terrible. This group has not had a good D since they have been here. When you have the same problem areas year in and year out, it is not the players.

  2. Larry Pup

    This is passing the buck plain and simple. Stoops has been involved with the defense ever since he’s been here, you kidding me? Also, I think this current crop of UK players are soft. We have no head hunters, with a couple of exceptions.

  3. RJ

    Well Pup none of this surprises me. I think these kids are crying for some leadership and they are not getting it. It’s a plausible excuse that the young players are playing “behind” and until the game “slows down” for them, they will always play slightly behind until their football IQ catches up. It’s the same for every position more or less. That said, Eliot’s statements are very troubling. These kids are supposed to the upper echelon of their recruiting class so their football IQ coming into the program should already be at a high level and they should be well motivated. Secondly, if the these guys have been spending their summers on their butts instead of working out like QBs and receivers should be doing with the playbook then we need to rethink their scholarships. That’s just plane unmotivated period. This is power five football so they had better develop some professionalism in a hurry. And lastly, if Eliot has not recognized this before now (in practice) just what the heck has he been doing in practice? If he has been seeing the deficiency in practice, why all the BS about how he likes what he sees. Come on, man up and call it what it is. I don’t think you could beat the truth out of this guy.

  4. RJ

    What has it taken three years to figure out that your defense is too complicated for the players that you have? Sorry Barney, I didn’t mean to steal your thunder..

  5. Norman Einstein

    I don’t know what these guys are thinking. It’s just more of the same blah blah yap yap we used to hear from Curry and my system has a hard time tolerating it.

    Hey Coach! I have an idea… more walk less talk. Show us something.

  6. RJ

    Maybe it’s just me but it seems like people making a lot of money in the public sector can get by with just about anything if they talk a good game whereas in the private sector they would have been dispatched eons ago. I think that says a lot about how the public measures its employees: as if public (taxpayer) money is somehow not OUR money and thus we let them get away with it. I know its a primarily a product of what our schools are not teaching our children these days but the public acceptance of this principle has always struck me as a bit odd.

    1. Norman Einstein

      Agreed RJ. The trophy mentality is alive and well.

      And on another note… spent some Thursday talking UK football with an alum that played in the NFL. While his analysis was somewhat technical, the message was simple… the defense is often in the wrong scheme and players aren’t sticking to their assignments.

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