Kentucky practice report: Young defense progressing, high praise for Mike Edwards

New Mexico State v Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Wildcats are off this weekend but the team is still in full practice. Defensive coaches and players were available to talk to the media after Wednesday’s practice.

Here’s what you need to know from the latest round of interviews:

What we learned

  • Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot had a lot of words to describe FS Mike Edwards, one of which was calling him arguably Kentucky’s best defensive player: “Mike is an extremely good player,” Eliot said. “Mike is arguably the best player on our defense. Mike is very smart. Mike is very athletic. Mike is our best cover guy. Mike is probably our best as coach says ‘football IQ’ guy on defense. Mike may be our best tackler. Mike may be our best blitzer.” It’s fair to say Mike is…well-liked by his defensive coordinator.
  • The Wildcats have a young defense, but it’s grown as the season has gone on. The last three defensive performances have been far better than the first three and Eliot said that’s simply a result of reps: “That’s been the biggest difference,” Eliot said. “We haven’t done really anything different. We haven’t practiced any different, haven’t called any different schemes. But what we have done is corrected our mistakes. So the mistakes that they’ve made they’ve corrected, so there’s less and less mistakes in every game.”
  • Kentucky’s defense is led by a slew of sophomores in the secondary and at linebacker. Cornerback Derrick Baity said he’s well ahead of where he was a season ago: “Last year I felt like I was being thrust into the action,” Baity said. “I was kinda hesitant with things I saw. The game was going to fast for me. Now that I got more reps and more experience, I’m trusting my eyes and it’s slowing down.”
  • Eliot has been by coach Mark Stoops’ side for most of his career and Stoops’ increased role in the defense has brought the pair back to its roots. Stoops made a decision in Week 3 to have a heavier hand in defensive playcalling and Eliot said it’s worked: “We always worked well together,” Eliot said. “I think 20 years. So it’s been 20 years. So we’ve always worked well together. You know what I mean? It is more similar to Florida State in the fact that it’s not all on me.”

Watch: D.J. Eliot interview

Quote of the day

“We’re just tired of everybody doubting us. We’re just here to prove everybody wrong, but at the same time, we not worried about what the outside is saying about us because we know how to play ball.” — Denzil Ware, redshirt freshman linebacker

Other news you need to know

  • Five keys for Kentucky’s second half of the season.
  • Matt Elam is expected to be back for the Mississippi State game.
  • Monday’s practice report on the offense.
  • Drew Barker can be considered week-to-week after the Mississippi State game.
  • Five plays that have shaped Kentucky’s season so far.
  • The time for Kentucky’s Oct. 22 game against Mississippi State has been announced.

The post Kentucky practice report: Young defense progressing, high praise for Mike Edwards appeared first on SEC Country.

Source: SEC Country

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