Football

Offense and Defense Continue Tug of War in Spring Practice

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The Kentucky Football team continued their spring practice preparing for next week’s Spring Game and the upcoming 2017 season and the offense and defense continued their back and forth with each other.

Take a look at what happened this morning including post-practice interviews with Mark Stoops, Eddie Gran, Matt House and Stephen Johnson.

“The great thing about spring is the competition, and it goes back and forth, go back and forth,” defensive coordinator Matt House said. “… That’s when you grow as a program. You grow as a program when it is back and forth and competition, like I said, whether it’s in your position group or within your football team. That’s what brings out the best in all of us.”

House was speaking as a coach who had just seen the competition bring out the best of his defensive unit. After the offense had the better of the first portion of practice, the defense stepped up and dominated the scrimmage.

“We came out a little slow, but other than that we decided as a whole we gotta step up and finish up the day strong,” defensive lineman Naquez Pringle said. “You just can’t come out and slow and expect to end slow, so we had to step it up a little bit.”

Getting multiple takeaways and stops behind the line of scrimmage, the defense asserted itself even though it was without two of its top performers. Denzil Ware and Mike Edwards – attending a funeral and a wedding, respectively – missed the final scrimmage day prior to Friday’s Blue-White Scrimmage.

“Certainly defensively you can see the strides we took today,” Mark Stoops said. “The last two days it’s been like that — really good defensively up front — and it’s a start. We have a long way to go, but I like the energy they’re playing with, I like the confidence they’re playing with. You can see we made some turnovers, made some big plays, and that’s good to see.”

The defense victimized the offense on those big plays, which did not make offensive coordinator Eddie Gran happy. You can rest assured his players heard about that.

“I told them that I was very disappointed and that they were awful,” Gran said. “They practiced for an hour and a half unbelievably. They competed, they got after them for one hour and 30 minutes, but the last 20, they decided not to compete and they got their tail whipped.”

Asked who among his offensive charges is a candidate to step up in the wake of a disappointing performance, Gran’s response was, “Somebody. It’s their offense. Anybody.” Senior quarterback Stephen Johnson seemed intent on making that someone himself.

“It’s all on me,” Johnson said. “This is my offense. This is my team. I have to be able to bring our guys up when we’re in a little lull like that. So that’s really on me for me not being able to pick those guys up.”

If Johnson had it his way, UK would be back on the practice field as soon as possible to move past that lackluster effort. Instead, the Wildcats will have to wait until Tuesday.

“I’m going to be watching this film tomorrow and Monday,” Johnson said. “I’m really kind of upset with how we performed out there with the scrimmage, but I’ll just have to deal with it and then practice a little harder Tuesday.”

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