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Going into spring practice, Kentucky’s players are listed alphabetically on the position chart rather than in order of their status on a depth chart. New coach Mark Stoops says he felt that was only fair to the players to take that approach.
“I just didn’t feel that was right until we had a chance to work with these guys. I mean, obviously there was somebody that took reps with the ones and the twos and the threes and so on, but I didn’t feel like it was right to release it (the depth chart) to anybody,” said Stoops Monday after UK’s first spring practice. “Nobody has earned anything yet. So we are going to make them all earn their spots and we’ll evaluate that as we go.”
Some players are listed at new positions but Stoops said that was more “schematically, where we felt like they could fit in our scheme,” more than anything else.
However, the former Florida State defensive coordinator says it doesn’t take a depth chart for players to know they can win starting jobs in spring practice.
“He can win it till fall camp starts. Our first year here it will be very fluid that way,” Stoops said. “We want the competition and we need more position battles. That’s going to make your team better. We won’t let anybody feel very good about themselves, and we’ll push them hard and we’ll be very demanding. I’m not interested in developing a depth chart, I’m interested in developing two deep, but we have 14 more practices this spring and close to 30 before our first game in the fall.”
Stoops called it a “good first day” of practice for him, his staff and the players.
“I thought the guys had a really good attitude, and what I can tell was that they had a clue on what to do offensively, a clue on what to do defensively,” the UK coach said. “Had a good idea of the base offensive plays, base defensive plays.
“I felt like coaches did a good job of preparing them. Now, the execution was very sloppy. It was sloppy. You know, intention and stuff like that, and guys were anxious and all that. But felt good. I felt like again, I felt like coaches did a good job putting them in position and understanding some things.”
He thought some players were nervous trying to impress a new staff.
“I hope some of that was a little bit nervousness, a little bit anxious. Some of that, maybe they were pressing a little bit hard. So, we’ll improve,” he said.
Heavy rain forced Stoops to hold the first practice indoors, but he didn’t seem to mind that much.
“The nice thing about being inside, outside of some kicks, you can get a lot of work done. The good thing about this time of the year, as opposed to the fall, is there’s no scout team work. So we can all get out to the side and you have a lot of room to operate. Outside of the beginning, with the individual drills and everything, it’s okay. I’d rather be in there and be on a good surface,” he said.
“I like the facility. I like the indoor, I really do. I feel like we can get good work in there. It’s a little tight in the end zones, but right now in the spring it works well because we go against each other and we have plenty of time to operate. If we are doing scout teams with one side and defense on the other side, it could get a little tight but for right now I thought it was pretty good.”
The team will practice again Wednesday before putting on the pads for the first time Friday. There will be no scrimmage this Saturday.
“With the 15 practices, we are going to go three this week, and that gives us plenty of time to review the installation. So after the first three days, much of our installation will be in, gives us time to watch film in between each practice before we go back out. So give it to them nice and slow this week, back in shape and tempo and all that,” Stoops said.
UK’s Blue-White Game to end spring practice will be April 13 at 7 p.m.