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.