UK defense aims to correct defensive communication breakdowns which likely cost them a win over Florida.
Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky insists it has moved past last week's frustrating loss to Florida.
In order to reach that point, however, the Wildcats have been forced to revisit perhaps the biggest issue that cost them an opportunity to beat the Gators - the two communication breakdowns that led to a pair of uncontested touchdowns by Florida in a 28-27 loss.
After Wednesday's practice at the Joe Craft Football Training Center, UK defensive coordinator Matt House said the staff is confident the issues have been resolved heading into this week's game against Eastern Michigan (2-1, 0-1 MAC).
"That's inexcusable," he said. "It won't happen again. We've addressed it as a staff, and we'll have guys from up top and down low looking at position on the football."
Asked how the team moves on from an embarrassing situation - UK's snafus were even featured on Monday Night Football's "C'mon Man" blooper reel - House added: "I think we all take ownership, from the players to the coaches. You win as a team and lose as a team. You just address it, correct it, and make sure it doesn't happen again.
"Quite honestly, the best thing to do is get back on the practice field after something like that. And then the next best thing is you can't wait for Saturday so you can get back on the field."
Senior linebacker Courtney Love says he's got to become a bigger vocal leader in the middle of the UK defense.
"Just making sure guys are looking at the formations and seeing things and talking," he said. "We've got some guys who don't talk a lot. We've got to get everybody talking."
Junior safety Darius West has bounced back from an injury-riddled start to his UK career to become one of its top players this season. While he currently leads the Cats in tackles, the staff would like to see the soft-spoken Ohio native become more assertive in the communication aspect of the game.
"It's time for him to vocally step up a little bit because he's making plays," House said.
"It's definitely a huge role at safety," West said. "... Coach House has been on me big about trying to be more of a vocal leader. I've always been the type, like you said, more of a (lead by) example, action. Being a better vocal leader is going to help us."
* Kentucky will be facing a former four-star high school quarterback this week in Eastern Michigan's Brogan Roback. The Toledo native is coming off a 271-yard passing effort last week against Ohio. "He's a really, really talented kid," said House, noting that Roback compares favorably to South Carolina's Jake Bentley but throws the back-shoulder fade pass better than any other quarterback the Cats have seen this season.
* Film review of the Florida game showed the Cats coming out of the locker room strong after halftime and playing well in the third quarter. They posted two 3-and-outs, intercepted a pass, and stopped the last drive on downs. But House said the fourth quarter was a different story, highlighted by missed tackles and the communication issues. He thought fatigue played a role. "We missed some critical stops on third downs (due to) missed tackles."
* House said he's pleased with what he's seen from redshirt freshman linebacker/end Jamar "Boogie" Watson in limited opportunities as a backup this season. "I thought he made a play on a third down (in the Florida game) that was pretty dang good. He's done some good things."