Energetic Cats 'crisp' on Tuesday of UL Lafayette prep

After a brief respite from the physical practices of fall camp, the Kentucky football team got back into full pads for a Tuesday practice.

The Wildcats were raring to go.

“Players were excited,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “They were enthusiastic and had a crisp practice for the most part. They weren't perfect, but the energy was there and the intensity and the attention to detail was there.”

The Cats will need that attention to detail again on Saturday with Louisiana Lafayette coming to town for both teams' season opener, as well as the grand opening game in The New Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Ragin’ Cajuns rushed for better than 225 yards per game in 2014, led by dynamic junior Elijah McGuire.

“They're a spread run team for the most part,” Eliot said. “They have a few power runs but most of their runs are spread runs, so we have to be able to be a firm tackling team. You get in space, you can't be an arm-tackling team, so we're trying to be physical and hit them thick and tackle them and knock them back.”

On that front, UK has experience working in its favor. Though the Cats might be young outside, they have veterans up the middle with defensive tackle Melvin Lewis, middle linebacker Josh Forrest and safeties Marcus McWilson and A.J. Stamps.

“Melvin had a whole year of playing, and it's good to have a veteran mike linebacker in there,” Eliot said. “I think that even with Marcus McWilson now being more of a veteran player, because he's involved in the run game a lot. He's a thick safety that gets down there and can tackle well. I think in some key spots we have a lot of experience that we didn't necessarily have last year.”

UK would get a further boost if Ryan Flannigan can play. The senior linebacker missed much of fall camp due to a shoulder injury, but practiced with non-contact on Tuesday. His status for Saturday remains up in the air.