HOOVER, Ala. — SEC Network commentator Greg McElroy called UK defensive lineman Matt Elam “lazy” and “disappointing” through his first three seasons in Lexington. Elam, a former high-profile recruit who hasn’t had a standout career to this point, was well aware of McElroy’s comment.
“I came into the computer lab yesterday to work, and he was in there,” UK safety Mike Edwards said. “I was like ‘did you hear?’ He was like, ‘yeah, I heard it. Everybody is calling me, telling me about that stuff.’”
Elam recorded just nine tackles as a junior last season. He was replaced by Naquez Pringle as the starter during the season and enters his senior season as the second string nose guard. On a defense that is strong at linebacker and the secondary, the defensive line comes into the season as more of a question mark.
UK head coach Mark Stoops, who was asked about McElroy’s comments, said all of his players need to get better, not just Elam.
“I’m not ever going to condone anybody singling out anybody,” Stoops said. “I try not to do that. On occasions, I’ve spoke the truth about certain things with players in media conferences, but that’s not my style to throw any one person under the bus. I’ve been the first to say we need to improve in that area. There’s no hiding that. Our players know that we need to get better. Derrick LeBlanc here is working with our defensive line. I saw some signs in the spring and I think they're working hard in the summer. I have no response to that, but I’m not going to single out one guy.”
UK linebacker Courtney Love said he sent the link to McElroy’s comments to Elam right away. Love viewed the comments toward Elam as a slight toward the whole defense, not just a single player.
“We hold each other accountable,” Love said. “I think that’s the biggest thing you have to do when you’re on a team, being a leader.He’s gonna respond to that. The whole defensive line is going to respond to that. For that matter, the whole defense is going to respond to that. When someone else is getting called out, that’s a direct correlation to the defense and our team as a whole. We all want to help make Matt successful, make our defense successful. When one guy gets called out, that’s all of us getting called out.”
Even after the scolding from McElroy, Love isn't concerned about Elam's play this season.
"Matt’s doing fine," Love said. "Matt’s going to be good."