By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot isn’t sure if end Bud Dupree, one of UK’s best defenders, will play against No. 1 Alabama Saturday because of a pectoral injury and freshman end Jason Hatcher also has a cast on his hand after breaking two bones against South Carolina — and continuing to play last week.
“It’s just part of football,” Eliot said. “It’s like that everywhere I’ve been, so we just practice with what we’ve got and make sure we’ve got somebody prepared for the game and then just let her rip.”
Even though UK gave up 35 points to South Carolina, Eliot thought the Wildcats did “some good things” in the second half.
“The kids fought back, never quit. There was plenty we could’ve done better. There were some spots, especially early in the game, that if we had done some things correctly, if we had played the plays properly, we really could have done some better things on defense,” Eliot said.
Here’s more of what he had to say in preparation for playing No. 1 Alabama.
Question: What is the most difficult thing about stopping Alabama’s offense?
Eliot: “Just their physicality. They’re so big and so physical. They can run it right down your throat. They’ve got big linemen, they’ve got big backs. You’ve got to matchup to that, and that’s the toughest thing about the game.”
Question: What makes Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron special?
Eliot: “I think that he is a very, very good quarterback. The reason that he’s good is because he makes great decisions. He understands his offense, he plays within his offense, he has great patience. He doesn’t panic. Therefore he’s tough to stop.”
Question: How has safety Eric Dixon played and what do you say after he misses a key tackle like he did late in the South Carolina loss?
Eliot: “He has done some good things, and we just made the correction on why he missed the play. He should’ve kept his feet, should’ve seen what he hit, wrapped up and run his feet. Eric Dixon has done some good things for us this year, and he’s going to be a guy we need to count on the rest of the season.”
Question: Are the players different after perhaps gaining confidence at South Carolina?
Eliot: “I don’t know. We’ll see. We’re just going to take it one practice at a time and push them to the limit every single day and every single rep, and hopefully they’ll respond the right way.”
Question: Do coaches get inspired to play a No. 1 opponent?
Eliot: “We try to take the approach that the most important game is the next game, so we continue to take that approach. We get fired up for every opponent.”