Defense Still Installing, Learning but Playing Fast

April 6, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips preached last year that he wanted his team to practice and play fast, and although there is still some installing to do on the defensive side of the ball, Phillips says his Wildcats are playing fast.

“When they know how to get lined up and they know what is going on they look (good),” Phillips said. “They still play fast even if they don’t know what to do. … We are still installing, which says a lot because this is practice eight and we are still installing. We have a lot of defense (to go over) and a lot of work to do also.”

Phillips and co-defensive coordinators Rick Minter, who joined the Wildcats’ coaching staff before the BBVA Compass Bowl in January, and Steve Brown have spent most of the spring installing additional defensive schemes and alignments, featuring multiple-look fronts and blitzes. Phillips admits there is work to do, but expects the hard work to pay off come this fall.

“We have to get ourselves in the meeting rooms and put it all together,” Phillips said when asked how the defense has looked this spring. “I think that we have a good chance to be a good defense when we know what is going on. Right now, we don’t always know what is going on.”

Because of the new looks that the defense is practice this spring, it has brought a new learning experience to the offensive line as well. Phillips said the offensive line has performed well so far this spring given the different number of looks they have faced and he expects that to continue.

“They are looking pretty good,” Phillips said about the offensive line. “There are a couple of errors made that allowed them to have sacks, but again we have seen a lot of different fronts and they are having to communicate more than they have ever had to communicate. We have some smart guys that have been around here a long time and we expect them to get it down. Again, they are the strength of our offense and we expect those guys to play like that.”

Phillips also announced after practice that sophomore defensive end Nermin Delic will miss eight weeks because of sports hernia surgery.  If the recovery goes well, Delic should be ready when practice resumes in August.

The Wildcats have just six more spring practices left before the Blue/White game on Saturday, April 23 at 3 p.m. ET inside Commonwealth Stadium.