By LARRY VAUGHT
Linebacker Courtney Love was supposed to be not only the leader, but the big playmaker for the Kentucky defense this season.
Coaches lavished praise on him both in spring practice and preseason camp. So did teammates or anyone else who watched practice.
However, after three games he has 18 total tackles, including nine solo stops, and one quarterback hurry. No sacks. No tackles for loss. No forced fumbles. No pass break-ups. That’s not what UK or Love expected.
“I think you can see the game is moving very fast for him at times, and he’s not making some routine plays,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “And when that happens, you wonder what he’s looking at or what’s going on or maybe we’re doing too much and all those things that we need to continue to refine defensively, because he’s a good kid and he means so well.
“He’s a great leader and he wants to be great and wants to help our defense, so his intentions are very good. We just got to put our players in a position where they can make routine plays look routine. Sometimes we’re not doing that and that puts us in a real bad situation. So I think overall to sum it up, I think Courtney’s doing some good things and needs to play better as the rest of our defense does.”
Love did not play last season after transferring from Nebraska. Stoops says he may have some rust from not playing last year but he’s expecting that to change.
“I think he’ll get better, because he’s a very conscientious young man. He wants to do well, so I think any mistake that he makes he will continue to work hard at it. There’s just so many different things that can happen on a football field. You’ve just got to apply your rules and some of it is not triggering quite fast enough for him yet,” Stoops said.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot says Love has all the intangibles to be a successful middle linebacker/playmaker.
“Courtney doesn’t have the experience that we’ve had at the MIKE linebacker the last few years, so he still makes mistakes at times but he has all the intangibles that we’re looking for,” Eliot said.
“I think it’s just the repetitions, but as you can tell from his play count he’s gotten a lot of reps in the last three games. So he’ll get better hopefully every play.”