According to Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader, standout true freshman linebacker Khalid Henderson will get a shot at some early playing time (along with fellow true freshman Pancho Harris) at the linebacker position.
Head coach Joker Phillips and defensive coordinator Rick Minter both confirmed today that the staff was more than willing to throw some of the younger players in the mix in an effort to bolster a defensive unit that, so far, has been underwhelming to say the least.
Phillips also explained that the defensive schemes would be simplified not just for the younger players, but so that all the players on defense could spend more time reacting, instead of thinking about where they were supposed to be at every given moment.
While I'm all for letting younger players get a shot if the veterans aren't producing, it's more than a little troubling that the coaching staff is talking about simplifying the scheme only going into the second week. One would hope that in Phillips' third year as head coach, the staff could spot a need for this during fall practice instead of after getting dragged during Week 1.
Still, I guess it's better that they are admitting to a change being needed rather than just staying the course and pushing ahead with a failed system (Maybe University of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart could take some notes to help with running the school's football program).
I'll finish things off with a quote taken by Nick Roush of Kentucky Sports Radio at Joker Phillips' post-practice media session today:
You give up 460-something yards and you are a junior, why not put a freshman in there and see if we can give up 400 (with a guy) that’s more talented than those guys.
Will putting in younger players and simplifying the schemes significantly improve Kentucky's defense?
Maybe Phillips just misspoke, but it's never a good sign when your goal for next week is to hold Kent State to 400 yards of total offense.
A couple of other notes from practice this week:
- Josh Clemons will not play this Saturday (per ESPN.com) due to continued swelling in his knee as a result of the injury he sustained last season. Phillips said that Clemons' status would be evaluated on a week-by-week basis. He has also not ruled out a medical redshirt if Clemons can't get completely healthy.
- Joker Phillips has banned players from using Twitter for 24 hours before and after games (per Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio). This was most likely due to some pregame trash talk and post-game complaining about playing time that occurred after the loss to Louisville.
Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.