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LB Khalid Henderson says bad communication hurt defense last year, but new system is simplistic and better for players

uk footballBy LARRY VAUGHT

He played in all 12 games last season as a reserve linebacker and special teams player, but now Kentucky sophomore Khalid Henderson is expecting more. “I know more about what to expect and what I can do,” said Henderson, who made 26 tackles in 2012.

He had five tackles against both Vanderbilt and Mississippi State when his playing time increased late last season. Here’s what Henderson had to say about how spring practice.

Question: How do you think practice has been going?
Henderson: “Things have been going good so far. Offseason looked real good and excited about spring football.”

Question: What did you work on the most in the offseason?
Henderson: “Just working on my size and explosion. I wanted to be more explosive this year and I wanted to have time to learn the defense. I am weighing about 225, which is about the same as last year. They didn’t really emphasize my weight gain. They felt I was good where I was at because of my body mass and wanted to keep me lean so I would keep my explosion and speed.”

Question: How is this system different from last year?
Henderson: “It is different as far as the snap point. It is simplistic, but it also multiple at the same time. To me, it is easy coming out of high school because we ran the same defense in high school. So that has made it easier for me.”

Question: Will there be more big plays out of you this year then?
Henderson: “Oh yeah. Lot more. The instincts are still very familiar in my head, so I feel like I will be a big playmaker this year.”

Question: Was defense last year too complicated that it prevented playmaking?
Henderson: “I think that is right. There was a lot of bad communication from the sideline to the field that left us all in a blur at times on the field. This year should be better. It is very simplistic.”

Question: How is defensive coordinator/linebacker coach D.J. Eliot different from Chuck Smith, your linebacker coach last year?
Henderson: “Coach Eliot is very vocal. He will let you know if you are doing it wrong and tell you. He always instills in us to keep going and looking ahead and try to stay ahead of the game and not look for mistakes and fix what you do wrong. Personality, off the field we don’t really talk football. On the field, he’s very vocal and he’s a leader and we follow behind him and say, ‘Yes sir, keep it moving.’”

Question: How much better are you now compared to when you arrived here last June?
Henderson: “I feel tremendously better. I feel better spiritually, emotionally, physically. I just feel an overall increase in my ability.”

Question: How hard is it to come to a Southeastern Conference program and absorb everything on and off the field?
Henderson: “It is very hard from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep. It is a grind every single day. The media stuff has not been bad. I did a lot of interviews in high school and spoke at a lot of social events, so that’s nothing new to me. I enjoy that part.”

Question: Could this team be a lot better than most are projecting?
Henderson: “A lot better. I know people are going to sleep on us, but that is what we want them to do. We are just going to keep working within ourselves and make us a better team.”

Question: Did you keep up with the players that signed and will be here this summer?
Henderson: “I did and I am glad for the progression. Our class was a good class coming in, so I look for even better in the next class. I am proud of what the guys (coaches) did recruiting-wise. I welcome the recruits with open arms and we are ready to take them in as soon as they get here.”

Question: Will the linebackers be better this season?
Henderson: “We are going to be a lot better. Everybody is getting the defense down, which is good. I just feel like we will be better on the depth chart from top to bottom.”

Question: Did you worry how things might work out when a coaching change was going to be made?
Henderson: “A little bit but I knew that was life and what I was coming into in the SEC. There are a lot of culture changes every year. You never know where you will be at the end of the day. That’s why I looked when I came here at what would be my surroundings and my team.”

Question: What does the current fan excitement about UK football mean to the players?
Henderson: “It just gives us a better push. We didn’t feel that during the season with how bad it went. It just gives us a better edge going into the season and get our minds right and focus on football. Playing in an empty stadium is not fun at all.”

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  1. Larry Pup

    I look for Henderson to have a great year at OLB. Great interview. Very telling on Minter’s communication to players on the field.

  2. Ira

    Minter should have just set on a base package like TCU’s or VT 4-2-5. Been easier to learn easier n our kids. But Minter wanted to NFL it out there playing with kids straight out of HS with half our defense. No wonder we looked lost and forlorn so much of the season.
    Of course our offense never helped him at all last year either, so there is that.

    I just wonder though if the players got tired of Nuclear Minter as some of us fans were getting?

    1. JCC

      I don’t want to insinuate that any of his players were (In Love with Minter) But I just think he was trying to prove what an experienced coach he was by using complex formations, reads and “Atomic terminology” which became more confusing to the players as the years went on and the defensive staff was trying to insert more of the package. Made thing much worse. Keep it simple, use terminology that everyone is on the same page with and remind the kids that the “Low Man Wins”!

  3. TrueBlueJohn

    It looked like last year that we were lined up out of position on a lot of plays. That boils down to coaching, and our defense didn’t look well-coached. I thought that there was enough talent there to be at least decent. That is why I am having some optimism about the number of wins the Cats will have this fall. I know the schedule is a killer, but if we improve some on offense, which I believe we will, and improve some on defense, which I believe we will, why not six wins and a bowl game?

    1. Anonymous


      I think we win our first three games and then win again on our backend schedule 3-4 games as well. I’d love to upset someone we are not supposed to. Be great for our first year under Coach Stoops.

      1. Gene

        Tennessee and Georgia would be my candidates for an upset win.
        We have a grand daughter in the college of medicine at UGA and that young lady has become insufferable, especially after the BB Cats were handled so easily down in Athens.

      2. larryvaught

        thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes and to our own Linda for such a unique card — AGAIN.

  4. Larry Pup

    Just beat Louisville and Tennessee. That would be a good year with 4 more wins. It is a very tough schedule as all ways.

  5. Love SEC

    Good questions Larry – Another good article.
    Looks like Khalid & Avery are easy to interview. Both seem like good kids.

    Looking for an improved defense. Simpler to execute.
    This staff will not tolerate bad communication from the sidelines.

    Agree with JCC – We are hearing a lot about “Low man wins”.
    Also agree with Anonymous and his projections.

  6. Ira

    Love SEC that anon was supposed to be me, don’t know why it blanked out my name. Wasnt trying to hide my name. I love UK football.

    But I would love for us to get over the hump with FL. With all things Joker did or didn’t do, he did get us past some very bad streaks. Would love for that one to go in Coach Stoops 1st year!

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