By LARRY VAUGHT
Sophomore linebackers Josh Allen and Denzil Ware have become two of UK’s best playmakers and with backups Di’Niro Laster and Kobie Walker out for the season with injuries they may have to play even more against Mississippi State Saturday night.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said both have dealt with recent success well and he doesn’t expect that to change.
“That’s how we expect them to play. With that kind of effort. And defensively across the board it was very nice as we watched the film last week of the previous game. They see that. They see the energy that they’re playing with and they see how fast they’re running to the ball and playing. That’s contagious. They need to continue to do that,” Stoops said.
The two have a friendly rivalry on the field.
“They definitely have a little fun but that’s good. Let’s see who can get the first sack. I’m all for it,” Stoops said.
Ware says the two are very competitive and it helps them both.
“We talk about a lot of things. We see who can get the most, who can do this and do that. We compete with each other and me competing against Josh and him competing against me is just going to help our talent and production on the field. At the end of the day you have to stop the run, and we love doing that,” Ware said.
“I got to keep him. He is my right hand man. I look at Josh like I am Batman and he is Robin, my little sidekick. No, I am just playing.”
But when they play like Batman and Robin stopping villains, the UK defense is a lot, lot better.
Stoops said both got some needed rest during UK’s bye week that gave him a chance to give Kengera Daniel and Jordan Bonner so extra work with Laster and Walker out.
“The nice thing about KG and Jordan is that they’re both bigger guys. As we play some physical teams down the stretch we can get, we got all the reps with those guys,” Stoops said. “Josh and Denzil didn’t have to play every snap of the game and didn’t play every snap of practice. I think that takes it’s toll on those guys. So, they still got a lot of work. They were able to go in practice but they definitely got a little bit of rest and let us bring some other guys along.”