Stoops likes the way UK defense is progressing during spring workouts

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops liked the way Kentucky's defense performed in a scrimmage Saturday at Kroger Field. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Mark Stoops likes the way his team’s defense performed during Kentucky’s first full spring scrimmage Saturday at Kroger Field.

Defensively, we have some guys that have played for a long time. I’d say the defense is ahead right now and really had a pretty solid day, as we should be. We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for a few years. Defensively I was very pleased. I feel like we’re much more stout than we’ve been. Guys are pretty physical inside and didn’t miss many tackles. Didn’t give up very many big plays as well. I feel like across the board we’re improving defensively like I would expect.”

The strides on defense have been because of depth, giving the defensive coaches more time to spend with second-team players on the depth chart.

“That’s a big piece of it,” the Kentucky coach said. “We have a long way to go defensively (and) we haven’t arrived. Just because we have some guys that have been there, and I do have some confidence in them, we still have to learn to finish games and play a complete game and do all those things. It is a tough balancing act at times because I do want to get the twos in there against the ones and get them in some physical situations and see what they can do. We are doing that some.”

Because of an upgrade in overall conditioning, Stoops said his defensive players are “stronger at the point of attack” on defense. Stoops, a longtime defensive coordinator, likes the way instate product Kash Daniel is performing during spring workouts.

“Kash is gaining a lot of confidence,” he said. “I just like the way he’s playing. I just think it’s his time and he feels very comfortable out there. I like the way he’s taking command. He’s a great guy to step right in and replace Courtney because of the leadership that Courtney had. I like the presence that Kash is bringing right now. Obviously, he makes some mistakes and needs to get better like everybody, but he has a good presence out there. He’s confident and is taking charge. I stand right behind the quarterbacks so I kind of get a vision on it. I like his presence and I like the way he’s playing.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Stoops said the progression has been slower but is to be expected because of a few missing links this spring. Stoops said quarterbacks Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak are making progress. Stoops said both signal callers are splitting the reps.

“Some good (plays), some bad,” Stoops said. “I’d like to say it’s all good across the board, but everybody says it, but it’s true about they need players around them. Offensively you have to be in sync. You have to have some guys that will create some big things for you. We did hit some today. It seemed like after some of the ones were out of there, they did hit some. That’s what we need. The quarterbacks will be fine. We need guys to make big plays around them.”

Stoops held out veteran running back Benny Snell to give A.J. Rose and Sihiem King more carries in the backfield against Kentucky’s first-team defense.

“That obviously hurts the offense a little bit with his power running game,” Stoops said. “We wanted to see what these other backs can do and Benny has played a ton of football. We kept him out.”

Kentucky’s annual spring game is set for 6:30 p.m. on April 13 at Kroger Field.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at or twitter @keithtaylor21.

Previous articleLawmaker: ‘All they have done is awaken a sleeping giant’
Next articleRichmond Child Care Center Closing its Doors For Good
Randy grew up in Richmond, Kentucky and graduated from Madison Central High School and Eastern Kentucky University. He knew he had a creative eye early while taking photography with the Polaroid Instant Camera. He's taken those skills and applied them all to today's digital media offerings. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter and other social media venues the concept is still the same... great quality work at affordable prices. Randy's produced and been involved in the creative television/media process for almost 30 years. He's done the big stuff with ESPN, FOX SPORTS, NBC SPORTS, CBS SPORTS, NBC SPORTS, HISTORY CHANNEL, TRAVEL CHANNEL, etc. Randy decided to finally keep it close to home. He says, "I'm excited for the opportunities is going to provide Richmond and the greater Richmond area! Call Randy and discuss your company or organization's digital media requirements. Take a look at the programs and videos and imagine a path that can be developed to reach your goals and objectives through exceptional video advertising work. Contact Randy soon! There's no obligation. And he says he'll take you out for coffee and snacks to discuss your next media adventure!