The Next Big Game!

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By LARRY VAUGHT

Linebacker Avery Williamson, Kentucky’s leading tackler last season, said it wasn’t hard to see why Western Kentucky amassed 487 yards and was able to run 75 plays in last week’s 35-26 win over UK.

“Just a lot of missed assignments and guys not being in the right spots, including myself,” said Williamson, who had a game-high 14 tackles.
“I felt like we were prepared and that everybody knew what to do. But when we got in that atmosphere (at the stadium) and when things didn’t go our way, we weren’t thinking too clear sometimes. That surprised me.”

It did UK coach Mark Stoops, a long-time defensive coordinator, too.
“One of the things I’m most disappointed in is the things that we should’ve played better than we did. The things we were in position to play better and we just didn’t do it. We’ve got to go back to work and it starts with fundamentals,” Stoops said.

That’s one reason Travaughn Paschal will start at outside linebacker in place of Khalid Henderson when UK hosts Miami (Ohio) Saturday in its home opener. Miami lost 52-14 at Marshall last week.

“We just have to play him. We have to get him on the field. I just feel like we have not been playing winning football at linebacker. We need to improve,” Stoops said.

He wasn’t any happier with the secondary play that gave up 271 passing yards.

“Not good enough. We need to improve, again, it’s a team loss,” Stoops said. “We’re all in this together, but we didn’t play good enough at a lot of positions. We played poorly in the secondary. I was very disappointed with position on the football. That’s what I talked about going into the game, our awareness on a couple things was very poor.”

Williamson, a senior, believes UK will show dramatic improvement this week.

“I feel like we did some great things to build on. We got turnovers. We got run stops at times. We just have to tackle better. That is the biggest thing,” Williamson said. “I did feel like our scheme was simpler this year, but biggest thing was just not filling run gaps. You have to stop the run and we didn’t fill gaps at linebacker and sometimes at D-line, too. Sometimes linebackers didn’t get over top and that caused problems. We have to learn to take better angles. I expect full focus from everybody this week.”

His message to teammates has been simple.

“Just be more aggressive. We’ve got to be more aggressive and downhill and make tackles. We knew what had to do and guys just had first-game jitters,” Williamson said. “Younger guys were just a little bit anxious to get out there. And we just were kind of timid I feel like some plays. I feel like I wasn’t aggressive enough. That loss hurt a lot.  It kills me. I’ve got to keep my head up, be a leader. I’ve got to show these guys I’m not going to give up. I’ve got to keep the young guys up and keep fighting.”

Williamson was a bit perplexed when junior defensive end Bud Dupree admitted the Cats might have been “overconfident” despite going 2-10 last year and losing to Western in overtime.

“I felt like we were pretty confident. Maybe a little bit too confident,” Williamson said. “We felt like we were doing everything perfect preparing. It was tough taking a loss when you feel you have been doing everything right. Fans were really excited, and I hope they still are. We just have to worry about the team now and go play. But we know we let a lot of people down last week.”

3 Responses to Williamson to teammates: “Just be more aggressive”

  • Tcat says:

    This kid didn’t let anyone down… I love UK FB more than anything but Avery played fine, was the only bright spot the guys doing the game spoke about…

    Avery, you’re fine, yea you could have played better a couple plays but please don’t try to take all of this… If we had 11 like you they wouldn’t have scored a point. The problem is people are scared up front and slow in the secondary…

  • RJ says:

    Having played on defense (back in the day) I can tell you that you may think you are ready to play in the first game of the new season. But until you get popped in the mouth the first time, you really just think it – our guys really weren’t mentally ready so they folded. I suspect the next game will see more guys than Dupree, Williamson et al step up and play defense. The one’s who do not might be packing their bags. Stoops will be patient but not overly so. A couple of things he said in his post game interview led be to believe that he is searching for who the “players” are and who is just hanging on for the ride.

    The season will not produce many wins but it will produce players and that is good foundation on which to produce a competitive team.

  • Little Baron says:

    Avery with 14 tackles certainly was a rare bright spot Saturday. It’s time for his teammates to follow the pattern he is setting for them.

    JMO…
    But is like to see Stoops put full trust in our OC and let him do whatever he wants with whoever he chooses – from QB to 3rd string OT. Stoops is NOT an offensive coach & I have seen other HC’s with a great Defensive mind simply choke out offense by giving too much input. I’d like to see Stoops put any extra energy (after fulfilling HC duties) into helping with our disappointing D.

    The great DC, Ray, was lured to UK from mighty Notre Dame and he simply did not have the experience or mindset of an OC. He got some very talented recruits and even had some very good defensive games. Same with Bill Curry.

    I posted in the past (elsewhere quite a few Yeara ago) that I could make UK a winner if hired as the HC for a few hundred thousand a Year, if I could pay Mumme & Curry a couple million each & just let them each run their side of the team.

    History often reveals that OC’s & DC’s who become HC’s do well on their side of the game but lack the management skills to trust their Co-Ordinator on the other side of the ball. I hope Stoops QUICKLY ( as in, THIS week) realizes he cannot make better decisions than his very capable OC!

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