Kentucky is knee deep into their their spring training, practicing three to four times a week. You might be wondering what things this coaching staff wants to address first out of the gate as they move through the offseason, while also bringing in a new offensive coordinator to the coaching staff.
During the first week of practice, Head Coach Mark Stoops and new Offensive Coordinator, Rich Scangarello, along with Defensive Coordinator, Brad White, came out and answered what they have been working on though the first week of March.
Mark Stoops started off by saying that right now they're working on individual work with his players, building on fundamentals and individual goals, which he says will help the bigger picture down the road. "I really want to just challenge each player to take it to another level, and to really get better." This week the team isn't using pads during their workouts, and will be emphasizing on getting a feel for this new roster, building on where they left off last year, and seeing what the new guys are bringing to the table.
After being hired in late February, Kentucky's new OC Rich Scangarello says he's enjoying working with this team. After having been around the offense, seeing what he was left with, he said, "there's a good foundation there, and it's something exciting to build on."
He was also left with veteran quarterback Will Levis. The returning quarterback who help reinvent this offense just one season ago under Liam Coen. Since inheriting Will Levis as his next quarterback 'project' to mold, he announced that the first thing he adjusted was his foot work. Rich mentioned that Levis has made a switch in his foot mechanics when throwing the ball and that he is doing really great with it. "Will has made a switch. He likes it and I think it will get better and better the more he does it. I liked (seeing) it today." Rich Scangarello is QB coach at his core, and to see what he implements into an already star of the league will be very exciting.
Brad White enters his fourth season as the Defensive Coordinator at Kentucky, and says his goal this spring is to work on specific, key things with his upperclassmen and his "Super Seniors," and for the young, new guys, to allow them to get a bunch of reps while getting a feel for football at this level. "It's really a big time for young guy development," said White. He would like for his veteran players to still get their reps to keep them sharp, but wants them to get a chance to "see the field from a sort of a coaching lens." Continues with, "You learn a lot from that when you have to think about more things outside your own box."
The DC says that spring football is a good time to experiment with different combinations at certain positions. They've recently been trying to move around Vito Tisdale at new positions because he has the skill level to play at many different spots on the field. "We know what he can do at that medium nickel position," and because of his athleticism they can move him around wherever needed. Vito was tremendous for UK's defense last year, recording 19 total tackles (11 solo) and a sack in just seven games.
This season the defensive will have strong leadership from the linebacker group, pointed out Brad White. They plan to aim for the overall leaders to come from a collective group rather than specific players. "This defense is less reliant on a single guy, or two guys, and is more of a group effort there." Guys like Octavious Oxendine, Trevin Wallace, Justin Rogers and Josiah Hayes will be expected to evaluate into their roles as they've now been here multiple years and know what this defense expects out of them.
While lightly touching on parts of the offense and defense through its coordinators, there isn't a whole lot that's come out of spring practice just yet. But as it continues and more news is available, we'll continue to have it covered. We might be drowning in the heart of college basketball at the moment, but that doesn't mean we can't get our fix of football as well.
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