By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot took his turn with the media after Wednesday’s practice — the last time UK coaches or players will be available to the media until Monday with the Wildcats not playing this week.
Here are some of the things Eliot had to say to the media.
What is the focus for this week: “We’ve got to get better fundamentally. This is a fundamental week. You’ve got a game plan week, game plan week, game plan week, bye week’s a chance just to get back to fundamentals. Worry about the little things, worry about each player and what he needs to do, where he is right now, where he needs to go and how we’re going to get him there. So it’s a big fundamental week. It’s a week we get to go against the offense, good on good against the offense again. It’s good to have that because sometimes that’s the key to getting better: Go back to the basics, go back to the fundamentals, go back to working hard, go back to what you can control and getting ready for the next opponent we’ll start next week.”
How are the new players doing at outside linebacker: “Kengera (Daniel) had a big play at outside backer for us in the game last week. Jordan Bonner has been there ready to go. He got a few players in the Alabama game. We’ve tried Alvonte Bell there, moving him around, too, so we’re working a few guys in there to create depth there with our injuries. We’re leaning on our ones a lot. They’re getting a lot of plays. Josh (Allen) and Denzil (Ware) are playing a lot of plays, but they’ve played well and been able to keep up. We just need to continue to build depth and try to get different guys in those spots so we can get the right guy in there heading into the future.”
How has the defense grown this season: “One thing that I was always impressed with them is they never lost confidence in themselves. They never lost hope in what we could do this year and who they could be, and they knew that if they just got a few things corrected and they continued to work hard and continued to buy in that they would see some success. So one thing that I’ve seen is a great attitude and a great work ethic and a belief in what we’re doing and what they’re doing, and that’s allowed them to build and become better.”
Has the biggest change just been gaining more experience: “That’s been the biggest difference. We haven’t done really anything different. We haven’t practiced any different, haven’t called any different schemes. But what we have done is corrected our mistakes. So the mistakes that they’ve made they’ve corrected, so there’s less and less mistakes in every game.”
How hard was it to keep players confidence up early in the year: “It would have been if they were getting beat. I think if we would have put the film on and said, ‘Listen, you did everything right, that guy’s just better than you,’ I think there confidence would have gone in the tank pretty quick. But when we said, ‘Look, it’s nothing he did, it’s what you did. You gave him that play, you didn’t play this properly, you didn’t line up right, you didn’t communicate, you didn’t play the technique,’ we can fix that. That’s an easy fix, and when we do that you’ll start being a lot more successful.”
What does he like best about safety Mike Edwards’ recent play: “Mike is an extremely good player. Mike is arguably the best player on our defense. Mike is very smart. Mike is very athletic. Mike is our best cover guy. Mike is probably our best as coach says ‘football IQ’ guy on defense. Mike may be our best tackler. Mike may be our best blitzer. I like a lot of things that Mike’s doing. He’s a very good player.”