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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops confirmed after Wednesday’s practice that senior defensive tackle Donte Rumph is injured and may need surgery.
“Donte got injured on Monday. He’s getting evaluated today. It looks like it’s a fairly significant injury,” said Stoops. “He may be out for a while, may require some surgery. We’ll see. We’ll keep you (the media) updated. It’s a big loss, though. He probably is the most consistent player we had going on defense, so big loss for us.”
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot has praised Rumph’s play last week and cited the line as the strength of the defense early in spring practice. Rumph started 11 games last season and had 36 tackles, including six for loss and a career-high six against South Carolina.
Stoops said both the offense and defense had some good and bad times during Wednesday’s practice.
“I thought the offense did some really good things early and then in the second half of practice they dipped a little bit. Did not have a good blitz drill, didn’t have great team period, but up to then they were doing pretty good,” the UK coach said. “Defense some good, but some of that’s just cause the offense missed assignments and different things like that. Overall, we got some good work in. We’re going to have a real good physical practice on Friday with the scrimmage. We’re going to put the ball down and see where we’re at.”
Stoops said his coaches had to show players “they just don’t understand the sense of urgency that it takes to win at a high level yet.” He said some of that came with learning a new system, but some also came from bad practice habits.
“Some of it’s just simple things — playing high, not finishing plays — and some of it’s not being focused enough to get the call, get lined up and thinking about things before they happen. It all goes together,” he said.
The UK coach said the Wildcats were “about where I thought” after six practices with plenty of work left to do before the Blue-White Game on April 13.
“We’ve got to continue to make the players we have better. We’ve got to continue to put them in position to be successful. And we’ve got to continue to recruit,” he said. “We’re about where I thought we would be, and sometimes as you can see from the assistant coaches, from myself, from different people, it’s frustrating. We’ve got a lot of work to do. But nobody’s discouraged, nobody’s down. We just have a long ways to go.”
Stoops touched on a variety of other subjects after practice:
— Sophomore receiver DeMarcus Sweat watched the workout but Stoops said there are no issues with him. “He’s working. He’s on the team, he’s fine. He’s working in there. He’s coming back off a little injury, but nothing significant, so he’s working his way in there.”
— Junior college defensive end Za’Darius Smith: “He’s doing a really good job. He’s just a big, physical guy and he’s been solid in there.”
— Quarterback Jalen Whitlow: “I thought he’s been practicing very well. It’s hard for me to tell sometimes. I’m not even watching whose throwing until the end, unless something just grabs my eye. I’ll watch it all on film. But I’ve been very pleased with him. I thought he’s been doing a good job.”
— Wide receiver depth: “We need depth. But we’re no different. I don’t mean to demean our team here, because everybody will say that in the spring. We’re just thin. We’re thin. We need numbers. And I bet you if you asked any team in the conference, they’d say the same thing.”
— Tight ends: “I like the way they’re playing. I really do. I feel like they can bring a little something. They’ve got a little punch to them and catching the ball pretty good. They’re doing some nice things. Gives us some versatility within the offense.”