UK secondary tired of talk, ready for season
LEXINGTON, Ky. – They’re tired of talking.
The coaches know what those guys are capable of. The fans know what those guys are capable of. Even those guys, the lauded Kentucky defensive backs, know what they’re capable of. And they’re itching to prove it.
“I was ready to play yesterday,” senior free safety Blake McClain said. “Being ready is no problem with us, it’s just getting the calls executed and the newcomers getting their feet wet a little bit.”
From the sights and sounds of the first week of fall camp, the freshman defensive backs have had little trouble in the new system. Sophomore corner Derrick Baity has taken freshman Jordan Griffin under his wing while freshman Devonte Robinson has spent time shadowing Chris Westry.
“They’re like sponges,” Baity said of the freshmen. “Jordan particularly – I love Jordan. If there’s something he doesn’t understand he’ll come and ask me. But so far they’re like sponges, they take coaching really well.”
Griffin, Robinson and freshman Tobias Gilliam all have enough talent to get on the field this season, and could even find their way into a starting job later in the year. Griffin seems to be farther along than the others, but Stoops believes they can all make an impact moving forward.
“I'm very excited about those guys,” Mark Stoops said. “I really think that when you go out and recruit corners, they're exactly what you're looking for. Jordan Griffin, we talked a lot about. I've seen enough in the summer, I see their work ethic, I know they're going to be very good players. “Again, they have the measurables that you're looking for. They can run. They have size. They play explosive football. But more importantly, they have a great mentality.”
Baity and Westry are looking to improve after a successful first year that saw the two combine for 55 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions. They know what they can accomplish and are desperately ready to show improvements in year two.
“We’ve been tired of (all the talking). In the spring we were tired of that,” Baity said. “We knew we had a new group of guys coming in – we didn’t know they’d be so competitive – but we’re tired, we’re ready for the season to start. We’re really ready to start hitting (too).”
The Kentucky passing defense finished 28th nationally in 2015, allowing a 57.1 percent completion rate, 14 touchdowns (while hauling in 11 interceptions) and 198.1 yards per game. The secondary lost Cody Quinn, AJ Stamps and Fred Tiller from last year but should have no drop-off.
Depth isn’t a concern anymore. The secondary is loaded from top to bottom from seniors to freshman who can produce. It’s a dynamic bunch that has strengths in nearly every type of coverage and scheme.
But safety Mike Edwards, along with the rest of the Kentucky secondary, knows that. And they’re tired of talking about it.
“Everybody talks how good we are, but we’re really going to show them this year.”