While eyes are focused on the tension between Mark Stoops and John Calipari, lost in the mix is the fact Kentucky held its first scrimmage of the preseason today. Following the outing, Mark Stoops had plenty to say about what he saw. You can read everything Stoops said below.
Very good first scrimmage. As I told the team, it is a good starting point. We have a lot of work to do. In the middle of camp, you would expect certain little injuries or positions to take a hit—nothing major—thank goodness. Everyone that is currently injured, we expect to get back. We did stay healthy in the scrimmage. Overall really good work today. Some things that really stood out to me, defensively, being very stout. I feel like we improved upfront and as a whole, in being stern, we improved. Better pass rush stood out. I have noticed that through camp and today in live I action, I feel like we grew in that area.
Offensively, I see a lot of young, dynamic playmakers. I see some guys that are athletic and can stretch the field. We didn't get as many opportunities for those guys today as we'd like. That comes with protection, getting reps and taking our shots down the field. You saw signs of it, but we can continue to improve in that area. Overall, pleased, but still a lot of work to do."
On Young Guys Standing Out
"I like the young guys. Deon (Walker), on the defensive side, jumped out to you right away. Deon can be a wrecker upfront which is great. It was good to see that. He definitely showed up today."
"On the offensive side of the ball, the young wideouts in general, you can see flashes. We just need more reps to bring them along. Barion can make people miss. Dekel had some tough catches today. I think there is a lot of talent in that group."
On a group That Stoodout Today
"If you just ask me one group that stood out today, the D-line. The defensive front was pretty stern. I feel like again, offensively, we have some playmakers, and we will continue to work."
On the Offense Adjusting to Faster Tempo, New Offensive Coordinator
"A couple of things, I thought the operation was relatively smooth today until very late. We had some down the line guys in at center, but prior to that, we were relatively clean. We had one flinch on a hard count on the offensive side, but few offensive pre-snap penalties, few offensive penalties in general. Probably not as fast as we need to. That is why I tell the team these opportunities are so valuable to us. We can't go live. These guys are so big and strong, and the season is so long; we bang and are physical, but it is hard to get complete live reps like we did today, so they are very valuable, and we need to continue to do that. I think we need to get back to being who we are, and that is a physical football team."
On the Defensive Line
I feel like that is one group that stood out to me. I feel like we were physical up front today. They were disruptive and strong. There wasn't much oozing going on where you get that push an extra two to three yards. They were very stern and physical. Did a better job in pass rush. All things we have been working hard at showed up today.
On If Any Running Backs Stood Out
"That room is good. You don't notice much because a lot of those guys are very similar. They all get tough yards and maybe have certain strengths. Overall, are pretty complete backs so we feel pretty good with those backs."