Apr 122014
 
Photo: Mark Cornelison/Herald-Leader

Photo: Mark Cornelison/Herald-Leader

Here’s everything that UK Coach Mark Stoops and coordinators Neal Brown and D.J. Eliot had to say following Saturday’s scrimmage at Commonwealth Stadium — the first such practice of the spring:

Mark Stoops

Opening statement
“Good scrimmage. We got some good work in. Definitely really the best we’ve played this spring, for sure. Look a whole lot better. Again, not where we need to be. We’re a little bit nicked up at wide receiver, but overall I thought we really did some good things. No significant injuries. Good physical scrimmage, got a lot of plays in. Felt like the quarterbacks did some good things. So, overall very pleased with the effort.”

On how Drew Barker looked
“Pretty good, pretty good. Did some good things.”

On what stood out about Barker’s performance
“Completions and touchdown passes. But, yeah, you have to look at the tape and see who it was against, what happened, a few things, but overall pleased. Pleased with how he handled himself, how he operated the good offense. Had some good throws. I also think the other guys had their moments as well.

“Again, Patrick (Towles) — I’ve talked about several times this spring — saw him make a couple very nice throws that I haven’t seen for awhile on our practice field. Really some good, strong throws in some tough spots. So that was encouraging to see. And again, Reese (Phillips) and Jalen (Whitlow) had their moments as well.”

On if this still feels like a four-man competition at quarterback
“You got to keep on going on me on the quarterbacks. (Laughs). Yeah. Yeah, it is. We’ll look at this film and look at the tape and see where we’re at after that.”

On how this scrimmage compares to the one a week ago
“A lot better. We probably weren’t quite ready. That’s maybe why I was a little frustrated: looked a little bit sloppy. But it was good to get back out there today. We had a couple days to meet and to get set and kind of just went out there today, basically got a warm-up, did a little seven-on-seven and did some special teams and rolled right into the scrimmage. So that was kind of good just to get into that mode, put the ball down and play.”

On how the Davis twins have looked
“They’re doing OK. They’re doing OK. They’ll have a hard time getting some playing time here right now. But they’re doing OK.”

On if this was a day where the defense or offense had a noticeable edge or if it was more back-and-forth
“I thought both. I really did. That’s why it’s hard for me, because if one side does well I’m disappointed in the other. But I really did feel like both sides had some moments today. I thought we were a little bit more stout in some of the run game with the ones on defense. Had some good stops, but the offense bounced back, had some good drives, threw the ball well, caught it better. We’re still a little thin — I don’t want to get in too much to the injury situation, nothing major, but we’re still a little bit thin at wide receiver. But they still managed to throw it, catch it, move the ball.”

On if there were any standouts among the receivers that were playing
“It was good. The young guys did some good things. Thaddeus (Snodgrass) had a chance to make a real big play, didn’t come down with it. T.V. (Williams) made a nice play where he caught the ball, bounced off some people, made a big play for the offense, which was good. I think (Ryan) Timmons. Timmons is always — he’s been solid.”

On how much a scrimmage weighs in the evaluation process vs. a regular practice
“More. Definitely a little bit more. We’re out there, coaches are off the field. Put the ball down and let them operate, see how they do. Definitely carries a little bit more weight.”

On if they have the sense they have a lot more to work with right now
“Yeah. We feel better. At times, you get out here during practices and everything, we’re running a lot of teams and doing a lot of reps, so you’re getting ones, twos and threes. Already in the spring, you’re already a little bit thin if you don’t have your whole group here. So it’s sloppy at times, but overall you put it together, get out there on the scrimmage and get going. We’re definitely further along. We just operate our offense and our defense better at this point. We’re getting there, getting better. Need to get everybody healthy obviously. We’re not deep enough to have a bunch of guys out.”

On how his hand feels after signing all the Maker’s Mark bottles at Keeneland Friday
“It’s good. I’m good, good to go. It was a fun day.”

On if he’s satisfied with what they have at defensive tackle in trying to replace two starters
“I have to watch this tape. Today will be a good indication, because as the offense goes with that tempo and even if we get a stop we kind of reset it with the same group, kind of bring it back to the same point so we get long drives. We had had 12-16 play drives with certain units today, so it will be interesting to see how they held up with their technique and how they played. In that, I have to get in and watch the tape to see how they really did. But we’re getting there. We’re definitely a work in progress there, inside, and need to continue to develop those guys.”

On if he’s seen any flashes from middle linebacker
“OK. Josh Forrest did some good things. Josh and Khalid (Henderson) both did some good things at times. I think Josh is the guy with the most upside right now in there.”

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown

On Saturday’s scrimmage
“Had a good day. Probably our best in a scrimmage or a game-type atmosphere – the best, just from the mechanics of the game, the best we’ve executed. What I mean by that is playing at the tempo that we want to; we’re getting closer. We’re not there yet, but we’re a lot closer than we ever were at any point last year. We didn’t have a single turnover, very few penalties. So all those types of things, a big-time improvement from where we were last spring and last fall.

“I know you’re going to ask about the quarterbacks; I won’t have a really good answer for you until the next time I talk to you, just because I’m on the ground and couldn’t tell. I know that we didn’t make as many big mistakes. All four of them threw the ball better. (Patrick) Towles made some throws in live situations that he hadn’t made here, so I was pleased with that. They all got about equal reps and everybody got a chance with the ones and the twos.”

On Drew Barker
“I think the biggest thing about Drew is, if you would’ve came out and just watched us today, you wouldn’t have known he was a high school senior. And that’s the most impressive thing to me. Because the mechanics of the game and not being in awe of being in that stadium for the first time and playing, that was what I was most impressed with. You wouldn’t have know that here he is, went to the prom two weeks ago or gonna graduate in June, you know what I mean? You wouldn’t have known that, which is a credit to him.”

On whether any of the other early-enrollee freshmen looked like that
“Yeah, T.V. (Williams) had some highs and some lows. He had a drop that would’ve been a big play, and then he had a long touchdown reception. So he showed some signs. I think Thaddeus Snodgrass is starting to come along. It’s a lot on a receiver initially. It really is. He’s getting a lot of reps because we’ve got some guys that are banged up. Mikel Horton (running back), he did some good things. I think he got tired probably. It’s a big difference (from high school). That’s why I was saying it’s such a credit to Drew, because you could’ve watched some of those other guys and thought, ‘OK, they’re young; they’re making some mistakes.’ Well, Drew, you would’ve thought he was here for a year, he’d been here for a while.”

On how the O-line protected
“It was good. We didn’t do a whole lot of asking them to protect, to be honest with you. But they’re better. I think they’re playing more cohesive. A lot of that has to do with we’re not trying to shuffle (backups) in. Our one group is getting a lot of the reps together, and we’ve got some experience there, obviously, with Jordan (Swindle) and Darrian (Miller) on the exterior.

“Zach West is really making some positive steps (at guard), which he needed to. He needed to, and I think it’s big that he’s had an offseason, where last offseason he didn’t get to go through it because he had shoulder surgery. And then (guard) Ramsey Meyers, he makes some mistakes but he’s talented and he’s strong. And then (Jon) Toth, I think I told y’all last time I was able to talk to you, that he’s probably our most-improved player (at center).”

On Steven Borden improving late last season and now
“He did. The game is slowing down. I look at him and I know what he can be, so I want him to be what I want him to be right now. But the truth of it is he just hasn’t played much football. He has not played much football at all. He was in California, then he moved right before the season started to Dallas when he was in high school, so he only got to play a little bit his senior year. Junior college. He just has not played a whole lot of football. There’s not a whole lot of football experience there. So he gets better. He’s improving. Is he where I want him to be or where I envision him being? No. But he is making steady improvement. He made some nice plays today. Made one really good third-down catch.”

On whether it’s still a four-man race at QB
“Yeah, I think so. I think right now it is, yeah. I’ve been telling y’all the whole time, I don’t want it to go as long as it did last year. I want it to get narrowed down. The thing I’m pleased about is they’re all much, much better. We’re better. Whoever the quarterback is going to be, they’re going to be better than we played last year. So that’s pleasing. But I do want to get it narrowed down quicker. When we do that, I don’t know. I’m not going to put any false deadlines.”

On wanting to have it decided by the end of spring then
“I don’t know. You’re putting words in my mouth now, Larry. Nah, I don’t know. I’m not saying yes or no. We haven’t had that discussion. I’d love for one of them to take it and run, but nobody’s done that necessarily yet.”

On what he means by throws from Towles he hasn’t seen before
“Well, all right, he’s got – like when he comes out here and throws routes on air and we don’t have defenses, and y’all watched him throw the other day … he’s making throws that he’s always made on air, but he made those against the defense being out there. I know he’s got really good arm talent; he always has. And you’ll see – even last year, I would see snippets of that when we were throwing on air, OK? Or maybe we were in a seven-on-seven drill. Well, today I saw some of those throws in a game atmosphere, which was encouraging.”

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot

On the scrimmage
“I thought we did some good things, played with some better energy than we did in that last team event that we had last week. And so I think that we got some things to build on. Still got a long ways to go, but we got number of practices left to get better.”

On the back and forth between the offense and defense
“Yeah, I think so. And I think that on defense we tried to just be vanilla. We weren’t trying to out-scheme anybody and we just wanted to find out who could make plays and who could play hard and so we got something to build on.”

On who can make plays that people don’t know about
“A.J. Stamps, again, did some good things. I was pleased with some his effort. And Jason Hatcher did some good things. I was pleased with some of the things he did. I saw some good plays by J.D. Harmon just initially. And after we watch the film we’ll be able be more detailed on that.”

On how much Harmon has bolstered the corner position
“He’s helped us. We need depth at every position and he’s got a chance to come in and play and so it’s definitely helped us.”

On whether Josh Forrest is cross-training between linebacker spots
“Basically our mike and our will are kind of mirrored. So we move him around and try him at different spots, but he’s played both of them. He’s played mike and will and, you know, last year he played some sam as well. But this spring he’s been a mike and a will.”

On whether it’s important to cross-train Forrest because of the players arriving in the fall
“I think it’s important to do that at a lot of positions. Sometimes to get depth it means you gotta dual-train people in order to establish that depth. I think that’s important not only at linebacker but all our positions.”

On UK’s defensive tackles people have not yet seen
“Melvin Lewis, I’ve been pleased with. He’s got that girth inside for a good nose guard and he’s moved around well. And Regie (Meant), Regie’s put on a lot of weight. Regie came in at 260. I think he weighs around 300 now and he’s getting better every day. He’s a freshman so he’s still learning how to play and play at this level. But both those guys, I’ve been pleased with their progress.”

On whether he continues to believe Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith are ready to take another step forward
“Yes, I think they are. I think those guys, you know, just continue to get better. Every year that you get more experience at any position you become a better player.”

On how the process of Dupree stepping into a leadership role has played out
“Very good. Bud’s done everything that we’ve asked of him leadership-wise. He’s putting in the effort and he’s going to have to become, like I said, a true leader and I think that he’s doing everything that he can.”

On what they are fine-tuning in Jason Hatcher’s game this spring
“You know, at any sport, any position, it’s hard to come in and play as a freshman. And so now we’re seeing a big jump in Jason because he’s a sophomore and I’m really liking the progress that he’s making. He’s grown up, not only on the football field, but in any natural progression from a freshman to a sophomore he’s done that as well.”

Share

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Powered by sweet Captcha