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UK rebounds with strong Saturday practice (with Stoops, Eliot interviews)

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Head coach Mark Stoops



Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot



For the first time this fall, Mark Stoops was dissatisfied with the way his team practiced on Friday night.

The Wildcats, however, didn't have to wait long for a chance to redeem themselves. Not even 24 hours later, UK returned to the field.

"Good practice," Stoops said. "I really felt good. We got a lot of work in today. We got really good meetings, good walkthrough this morning, good physical, long practice today so I feel pretty good about the practice."

Stoops was particularly happy with the play of the offense, saying the unit was "much sharper" than Friday night when dropped passes and sloppy play were an issue at Fan Day in Commonwealth Stadium. With inside anchors Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble limited due to minor injuries, the defense is still adjusting to physical play in the second day wearing full pads, but the overall energy on Saturday was improved.

That didn't surprise Stoops.

"I've said it before: I really like this group's attitude, their mentality," Stoops said. "I feel like they care and are doing the things necessary to be the best they can and they responded today with a good practice."

Stoops also singled out wide receivers Alex Montgomery, Ryan Timmons and Jeff Badet and defensive end Jason Hatcher among the standouts among UK freshmen. Marcus McWilson, another newcomer, was a popular topic of conversation as Stoops met with local reporters. The freshman was rated a four-star safety out of high school, but has lined up in recent days at nickel back, a position that requires the kind of size, athleticism and versatility in Stoops' defense.

"We have to develop a nickel," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "I think Marcus McWilson has the skills to be a nickel and that's where we've been practicing him the last two days."

McWilson won't work at nickel on Sunday, but only because UK won't practice. The Cats will be at the Nutter Training Facility for much of the day, but only meetings and a walkthrough as they rest for another grueling week of camp.

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