The Next Big Game!

  • UK FB Blue-White Game:
    in 6 days, 13 hours, 44 minutes

Larry on Twitter

Google+

By LARRY VAUGHT

Junior defensive end Collins Ukwu is being counted on to help anchor Kentucky’s defensive line this season and he’s pretty clear on some things the Wildcats must do to have an improved defense.

“We have to be together as a defense. That’s not somebody over here doing their own thing and somebody over here doing their own thing. That is what got us in a bad situation last year,” said Ukwu. “We just have to be more together and we have to all know the plays.

“I felt like that was some of our trouble last year. We weren’t communicating real well on the field.”

Didn’t know the plays. Not communicating.

Those are drastic problems and make it easy to see why the Cats struggled to stop most Southeastern Conference opponents last year. Was the coaching too complicated or did the players just not pay attention?

“I think it was a little bit of players not paying enough attention, especially in meetings. That is why we try to emphasize now everybody staying awake in our meetings and stuff like that,” Ukwu said.

Staying awake? Certainly that would help players learn more about what is going on.

“I didn’t go to sleep and I don’t want to say any names, but there were some people who were not attentive. We need everybody attentive on the field and in meetings as well,” Ukwu said.

Given the disciplinarian reputation that new defensive coordinator Rick Minter has, one has to believe there’s no way any UK defensive player has been sleeping in meetings recently or would during the upcoming season.

What would happen if Minter caught a player sleeping?

“He will go crazy and probably throw an eraser or something at my face,” Ukwu said.

Who could blame him?

However, Ukwu believes Minter is going to make the defense better.

“Coach Minter is a great guy. Sometimes he can talk us to death, but we love him at the same time,” the defensive lineman said. “He really knows what he is talking about. He is real technical when it comes to the little things and us knowing different steps and different ways to do plays.

“My personal goal is just to be a leader on the defense and the D-line. I want a lot of these young guys to look up to me. Just lead by example on and off the field. Just try to get better every day.”

He says he’s confident Kentucky will stop the run better despite shifting from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4 look and also having a lack of depth in the defensive front.

“It all matters about the defensive line. It counts on us. If the big guys go, the other guys behind us follow,” Ukwu said. “That’s the kind of mindset we have. Just us being together and working hard will help us out.”

Ukwu says the philosophy change on offseason workouts that has led to more weight training and less running has helped him and will also help the Cats stop the run.

“I have gotten about six or seven pounds (heavier). I am currently 260. I feel the strongest I have ever been,” Ukwu said. “I am a guy who burns a lot of calories really easily. Just running twice in a week has made it a lot better for me to keep that weight on me. It has really benefitted not just me, but the whole team. We are a lot stronger and are a bigger club.”

And maybe even a team now that can stay awake in meetings.

20 Responses to Cats have to “wake up” and pay attention to improve on defense

  • Todd Keelin says:

    Ukwu’s comments speaks volumes as to how far Coach Brown had let things slip on the defensive side of the ball. Also explains why Brown was said to be a “players coach”. You can have a good relationship with your players, but sleeping in meetings? Thats just crazy. So glad that Minter is here. The defense will look much better come fall.

    • larryvaught says:

      Have to admit if I had not heard him say it and then listened again on my tape not sure I would have believed it

  • TheProfessor says:

    “Staying Awake” Is this serious? Why would any coaches allow that to happen?

    Perhaps this explains the rash of one game suspensions that the team endured last season.

  • TheProfessor says:

    Can you imagine what Coach Calipari would do if one of his players could not stay awake during team meetings?

  • Ira says:

    Now we all know why the defense always looked so lackadaisal in the first half. I’m surprised Brown is still here. But wait, UK atheletics is so tight on money we would rather keep his contract and let it expire than fire someone and pay him his last year.

  • Andy P. says:

    Ira, it has nothing to do with money. According to Brown’s contract the buy-out is one month’s salary ($29,000) for each year left on his contract. Back in December when Joker brought in Rick Minter, it would have cost UK $59,000. Today it would cost UK $29,000.

    Obviously, Steve Brown is still on the staff because Joker wants him here. That’s just one of several huge mistakes that I believe Joker has made since he became the head coach.

  • Pacman says:

    Sometimes guys are good position coaches and not so good at being a DC. We have seen many examples of DCs that did not make good head coaches (ie Charlie Weis). I still think Steve Brown is a good secondary coach and I give Joker credit on two counts.. one for recognizing the problem and correcting it by making the switch to Minter and two for keeping Steve Brown as a secondary coach knowing he is good at coaching that position. Also remember that Joker did not bring Steve Brown in, Rich Brooks did and we all know now that Rich Brooks is a smart coach. Before we throw Steve Brown under the bus for all the problems from last year let’s see how the secondary performs this year.

  • Levi says:

    Pacman I wish more of our fans would use reasoning like yours. To me way too many of our fans are too quick with their conclusions. The problem we had with defense has been addressed by Joker and the fans should wait for results before they start calling for more heads to roll.

  • LoveSECFball says:

    Larry, I thought that he was using the words “Stay Awake” as a figure of speach possibly meaning “Pay attention” however you used the word sleeping in the next question. Hard to believe! Brown should have already been dismissed. He continues to be a distraction now like he was in the Bowl game.

    I don’t think that the defensive alignment changes by Minter are as important as the changes in attitude & excitement. However, the players seem to BELIEVE that these changes will help therefore the changes are important. The defensive players seem to be taking more responsibility for their positions and more appear to be taking a leadership role. I am certianly looking forward to seeing this develop on the field this fall.

  • Rich Harper says:

    Would LOVE to see the reaction from people if it was reported that players on the basketball team were falling asleep in their team meetings. Football, not really a big deal. Basketball? It would be the talk of the Commonwealth. Until fans expect the same commitment from the football program that they do in basketball, UK will always be a cellar dweller on the gridiron. It’s a shame.

  • Ron Dugan says:

    Boy, reading stuff like this really makes me want to buy season tickets. Sounds like the team is really focused under Joker’s leadership.

  • Jim says:

    Why is anyone throwing the basketball coach into the conversation? What has he got to do with it? I seriously think some people wouldn’t know what a football was if it hit them in the head!

    The summer work outs and film review are not supervised by the coaches. The iron fist has to come from the upper classmen. What I take out of this is that they did not have the upper classmen step up and keep the younger guys in line, last season.

  • Jim says:

    By the way, anyone who blames the fan base for mediocre football is about as uninformed as they come.

    I do feel that UK is heading in the right direction with the football program. The number one reason why UK has sufferred in mediocrity is that they have always had a good ol boy as an athletic director, who only had roots in basketball. Barnhart is a football AD, which is why UK is on the right track. If and when Mitch retires, UK had better get a well rounded AD, and not go back to picking the good ol boys with UK basketball ties.

  • Derek says:

    Asleep in meetings?? That is in-excusable both on the players part and the coaches part. I would lose it if an employee was asleep in one of our meetings. Heck I would lose it if one of my 6th graders I coach was asleep in a meeting. Also if players are asleep in meetings you have to worry about leadership skills of the coach conducting the meeting. We all know bosses who have meetings and they don’t have any excitment, etc and its tough to listen too but here are leaders you lay on every word they say.

    • larryvaught says:

      I am really disappointed to hear that talk, too. I do also agree that if this had been reported about a basketball player, it would have been a statewide topic. wish more fans would get as passionate about UK and expectations for the team. But I would guarantee there will be no defensive players sleeping this year — or at least not but once before they are told to hit the road by Minter

  • shinny says:

    I certainly agree with the point we are not talking about baketball—we kentucky fans(football&basketball) hope you basketball only fans can’t get in to see the rising football
    program which will happen sooner than later. As far as sleeping in the meetings sounds like that now has a lid on the guys. Remember when a new defense is installed it may take a season to show postive signs. But then again it may show it’s face at the Tn. game. I for one like Brown teaching our secondary which truly could be our strong suit. Turn on the sound system please I’m ready for some football in the “Bluegrass”

  • Tana says:

    Good work, as usual, Larry. Too, in regard to the sleeping, I go with the attitude shinny expressed — that there seems “to be a lid on it” now — and look to the future. Also, as I see it, Pacman and Levi made fine, level-headed posts in that regard.

    Further, I really liked some of Collins Ukwu’s (and who could not love that name for a Kentucky player!!!) comments here. I had especially liked reading his remark about Coach Minter: “Sometimes he can talk us to death, but we love him at the same time.” That had been good to hear, especially since some players had struggled to adjust to Minter’s style when he had arrived last winter. I also like that Ukwu is wanting to be a leader — that he wants to “lead by example on and off the field.” Again, this fan can hardly wait for football season to begin!!!

    • larryvaught says:

      Tana, can’t imagine any sleeping this year. Ukwu could indeed be a big leader and by just admitting this problem he’s maybe leading in a different way

catalist

For IPhones/IPads, and new for Android devices, the Catalist app by Larry Vaught is the best way to keep up with UK basketball. It's free!

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.