Following the completion of Kentucky’s seventh preseason football practice, members of Brad White’s defense spoke with the media. Still two days away from the first full contact scrimmage, there’s still plenty to learn about this unit. The first impression: This is an experienced group that gets along well together. More on that after they talk about Liam Coen’s offense.
Defense is Running More vs. Coen’s Offense
Being a defensive player is exponentially more exhausting than it was a year ago. Coen’s pre-snap motions and exotic formations have the defense running all over the field.
“Your eyes better be right. No looking in the backfield. Don’t have your eyes wandering anywhere,” said safety Yusuf Corker. “They gotta be perfect on your craft and have your eyes right. You don’t know what to expect. One play might be run. They might line up in the same formation and the next thing is a play-action pass, so watch out for the deep shots and be real keen on your details and your craft.”
Misdirection is the name the game. If the defense falls for any fakes, Coen will make ’em pay.
“We just have to be on our toes every time they run a play because you never know if it’s going to be this or this. There’s a lot of misdirection,” said safety Davonte Robinson.
Levis has Hands
They do much more than simply pass.
Let’s Get Motivated
The secondary is experienced. There are seniors everywhere, starting at free safety, nickel and strong safety. It might be difficult to keep underclassmen motivated, so new defensive backs coach Chris Collins created a competition.
The group is divided into two teams. Each players is rewarded for effort and penalized for missed assignments. It’s a game that’s not so different than what you might see in an elementary school classroom. The defensive backs are all in on the game, too competitive to take a loss.
“It keeps us motivated,” said Corker. “We have to two teams so which ever team has the most points at the end, probably gets a reward or something, I don’t know — just to have the clout really. That’s how we’re going to keep ourselves motivated throughout camp.”
Chris Rodriguez’s bloodsucking comments raised some eyebrows. Davonte Robinson was not asked directly about C-Rod’s statement, but he has been a part of quite a few Kentucky Football teams. Entering his super senior season, the Lexington native notices one significant difference in this group.
“I feel like this group is really player led. The years I’ve been here we’ve had guys that are leading, but I feel like the whole team is coming along,” he said. “The sky is the limit for this team.”
Kentucky’s defensive coordinator can see that his group is gelling well early in camp.
“The thing that’s really good is sort of the camaraderie they’re showing each other. Young guys feeling like they can cheer on old guys and vice versa, old guys getting fired up for young guys making plays,” White said. “I just like the energy.”
Old Man Yusuf
One thing has not changed about the Kentucky Football program: it’s still filled with Dad Strength. Safety Yusuf Corker is not a super senior, but he has the life of an old man. He doesn’t hear any lip from his teammates while juggling SEC football with Dad duties.
“When I’m here, my focus is on football. When I’m at home, I strictly turn into Daddy-mode,” Corker said. “I gotta put her in the bath, make dinner, put her to sleep. When I’m doing that, my wife can chill out because when I’m here, she’s taking care of her, so we have a nice little routine and schedule for her.”
— Yusuf Corker (@YCorker) August 7, 2021
Good Sign on Trevin Wallace
The highest-ranked prospect of the 2021 recruiting class signed in February. Since then he’s been in Kentucky’s playbook. There’s plenty of brains to his brawn.
“He’s a smart kid man. He’s really, really smart,” said linebackers coach Jon Sumrall. “There’s a difference between understanding it in the classroom and applying it on the field, but that dude in the classroom is extremely impressive. He’s a very sharp kid. He’s busted his butt to get ready. He’s been around the facility doing stuff on his own all the time. He’ll walk by my office and, ‘hey man, what are you doing here?’ He’s just working his tail off and he’s got a great example in DeAndre Square.”
Frank Buffano was the only defensive assistant KSR did not speak to Thursday. Enjoy a few candid minutes with each.
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