The Kentucky Wildcats met the angry Mark Stoops during Monday’s practice at the Nutter Indoor Fieldhouse. Specifically, Stoops was unhappy with the Wildcat defense.
“I’m trying to be positive, but I tell them the truth,” Stoops said following Monday’s practice. “It gets back to habits of just going out and milling around and going back to their old ways. Then we’ll play a little bit, and that’s not good enough, it’s not acceptable.”
“Every play is important, and you’ve got to have some passion,” Stoops said. “It’s our job as a coaching staff to get them to push, to understand the urgency, to understand the competitiveness and to just keep working.”
However, Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown were both happy with how the offense played during Monday’s drills. “I thought the offense did some good things, showed some urgency, picked it up,” Stoops said. “It wasn’t perfect, but I thought they did some good things.”
“To change the mindset, it’s got to be an every day attitude of ‘we’re getting better’ on the field,” Brown said.
Brown pointed out a couple of tight ends that are making plays during the spring. “Tyler Robinson is running better, I think we’ve probably recognized him every day we’ve practiced as having a great day. Ronnie Shields is a kid that in the passing game can be a real threat, and Jordan Aumiller has had a good spring so far.”
Those tight ends could play a key role for the Wildcats’ “Air Raid” passing game this fall, especially if a guy like Robinson is able to catch the ball and make plays for Kentucky.
Brown also had comments on the Wildcats’ running backs, a position that figures to be one of the strong suits for Kentucky this fall.
“Raymond Sanders has looked the best so far,” Brown said. “I’m really pleased with how he’s handled himself, he’s matured and he’s done well not only rushing the football, but in the passing game.”
“Jonathan George and Josh Clemons would be the next guys. Dyshawn Mobley has got the skills, he’s just got to pick it up faster,” Brown said.
Sanders will be a senior this fall, and he’s expected to be a major contributor for the ‘Cats. George played well at times last season, but Brown and Stoops would love to see more from him this season.
Clemons and Mobley are both wild cards for this season. Clemons, who had an 87-yard touchdown run against Central Michigan as a true freshman in 2011, is coming off of a knee injury that kept him sidelined for more than half of the 2011 season, and all of 2012. If he’s able to get healthy, he could easily become the featured back for UK.
Mobley came out of high school with a ton of promise, but last year’s coaching staff had trouble getting him into games. He rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a senior at Powell (Tenn.) High School, and Kentucky fans are hoping he can live up to the hype at some point during his career in Blue.
Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot are putting the 4-3 defense in this spring, while Brown has brought his wide-open passing game back to his Old Kentucky Home.
On defense, Kentucky figures to be very strong on the defensive line, with Mister Cobble, Tristian Johnson and Donte Rumph returning up front. The transition will be with the players that played outside linebacker last season. Some of those players will be converted to defensive ends in the new system, and that will be quite a transition. Stoops and Eliot will need to determine which players will be able to make that move.
Kentucky needs to improve on both side of the ball to improve on a 2-10 record from last season.