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By LARRY VAUGHT
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot says the Wildcats are “harping on fundamentals” as they come off a bye week preparing to play at Mississippi State Thursday night.”You think a bye week is a chance to get better fundamentally. You’ve got to become efficient tacklers coming off blocks, playing balls in the air. Just harping on fundamentals,” Eliot said Sunday. “I think the attitude’s been good throughout the bye week. We’ve just got to keep pushing them to be the best they can be, and part of that is that attitude.”Eliot said the defense is “significantly healthier” thanks to the bye week.He says Jason Hatcher, Avery Williamson and Blake McClain, who are all playing with some type cast on one hand, are coping better.
“I think they’re getting used to carrying around that extra weight on their hands. It’s getting better. The cast doesn’t change, it’s not going away. But I think they’re getting used to using it,” he said.He also said end Bud Dupree, who missed the Alabama game, has been “practicing every day” and gives the defense a boost.
“Bud’s one of our best players, if not our best player. I think Bud has a huge impact in everything we do on defense,” Eliot said. He also praised McClain, a true freshman defensive back who has played some at linebacker.
“He’s done extremely well for a freshman. He’s very mature, so that helped him. Sometimes you just get a freshman like that, that can handle it. Doesn’t get stressed and is able to perform at a high level early, and he’s been able to do that for us,” Eliot said.He said Mississippi State likes to play fast and “they start fast” most games.”They have an option-type offense from the spread look. Sometimes, the speed of the game is hard to adjust to. You’ve got to come out ready to go knowing that they’re going to have tempo, and we have to be able to adjust,” Eliot said while noting some things are similar to UK’s offense. “They’ve got an up-tempo offense like we do. Some of the Q-run may be a little different than ours. Their quarterback is very athletic, makes a lot of plays on his feet. He makes good decisions, got a strong arm. I think that he makes the thing run. He’s the key to that thing.”