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Kentucky LB Ridge Wilson didn’t know how much his role would change


LEXINGTON — Ridge Wilson knew he would be moving around more on defense this year. He learned that preparing for Kentucky’s bowl game.

He didn’t know exactly how much different his responsibilities would be as a linebacker-rush end until spring practice started, but the junior out of Louisville is adjusting to the new “hybrid” position in co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s new scheme.

“Actually, I feel like at the end of the day, it’s going to work out for the better. Not just for me, but for the entire defense. Coach Minter wants to be putting our best 11 players out there, and any defense, any package we’ve got, everyone can play on the field,” said the 6-3, 238 pound Wilson. “ I’m just learning how to get back into the three-point stance concept, learn to  play like a big man instead of a finesse player all the time. You’ve got  switch it up.

“And (learning) not rushing up the field so much, rather just playing heads up, using my hands and getting upfield and making plays. I can use my abilities against bigger players.”

As a strongside linebacker last season, Wilson played in all 13 games and started the final two against Tennessee and Pittsburgh. He registered 30 tackles with three tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks and had an interception. He played a little in Minter’s new scheme in the BBVA Compass Bowl loss to Pittsburgh, where he registered six tackles.

Minter said Wilson has made a good transition with his new responsibilities so far this spring. “He’s done well. He’s done a good job. I think we’re putting Ridge at positions where he has a chance to be a success. He can play linebacker, but also defensive end,” Minter said. “He brings a lot to the table.

“I look forward to working with him now and in fall camp because we have to look at this thing in stages. Spring is a big, heavy install where you learn a lot of things. Then we’ll regroup and start all over in the fall and try to perfect it much better.”

Wilson is trying to perfect his new spot as well.

“I’m still learning, so every day I’m coming into practice with an open mind and getting better each day,” he said.

He said he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when Miner was hired and started installing the new defense at the end of the regular season.

“When coach Minter first came in, that’s the defense we played in the bowl game, I wasn’t a rush backer but I pretty much did the same thing. So I had a clue we were going to run that defense, but I didn’t have a clue they were going to put me the majority of the time in a three-point stance,” he said. “But like I said, I think it’s going to work out well.”

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  1. Andy P.

    I think our defense will be much better next year and actually give us a chance to win games without feeling the pressure to score 40 plus points.

  2. gmoyers

    Hope you are right Andy because don’t think Cats will score nearly as much next season

  3. Jim

    I am looking forward to the season and am very glad that Joker hired Minter. UK has won a few big games over the last few years, by outscorinng them. If they can stiffen their defense, they will have a better chance to win, even when the offense is sputtering.

    As far as the expectation of a down season for the offense, I am encouraged by the addition of Andre Woodson to help mentor the QBs. He had great junior and senior season for the Cats, making a huge transformation from his sophmore year. If he can help raise the level of play for Newton and Smith, the offense could very well be the suprise of the SEC. If Newton gets injured, they have to hang their hat on a freshman with no experience and willl not have a promising back up. So, it is also time to see if Mike Summers will be able to shape up a top shelf Offensive Line that can protect its QB and minimize big hits that could change the whole season.

  4. Jim

    Another topic that might not have been discussed is turnovers. UK had a lot fewer turnovers last season. I just looked at the stats for last season and it appears that UK was minus 4 for the season on turnovers, losing 11 fumbles, opponents losing 7 fumbles, and 9 ints that match their competition. If they were minus 4, last season, it is no wonder they couldn’t win more games. If there is a big difference in philosophy from the old defensive coordinater to Minter, I hope it manifests itself in turnovers!

  5. Andy P.

    There couldn’t be a bigger difference in philosophy than there is between Steve Brown and Rick Minter.

  6. gmoyers

    Andy, I would say we totally agree on that

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