Kentucky is just over a week away from their season opener at Auburn on Sept. 26. UK defensive coordinator Brad White, who began yesterday’s press conference announcing that he and his wife are expecting a newborn child on Friday, did not mince words when asked if the team is ready to play.
“The guys — you could tell the guys are ready, they can sense it,” he said. “The urgency is elevated — they know they’re in single digits now until kickoff time.”
Kentucky is deep with experienced talent stretched across secondary position. White not only said it is comforting to have so many players at the position, but that many of them — even some freshman — are ready to play.
“I think you’re gonna see quite a few guys play and be on the field,” he said. “And that’s nice — you know we’ve talked about being able to have some depth out there, and being able to have as many corners that we have.”
Among the young secondary players that have stood out so far in preseason camp, we have heard the names of freshman Vito Tisdale and redshirt freshman MJ Devonshire, both who will see playing time this season. White added one more name to that list — freshman Carrington Valentine — who has been working hard from moment one since practice began.
“He competes, and he’s got an internal fortitude, that junkyard mentality that he’s gonna keep coming over and over,” he said.
A position group that the Cats do not have as much depth at is inside linebacker. With junior Chris Oats likely done for the season with an undisclosed medical issue, UK is spread a little bit thin in the middle of the defense. White said that while the backups at that position — Jared Casey, Marquez Bembry and D’Eryk Jackson — still have some growing to do, they will be ready to hit the field when kickoff time comes.
“We feel confident that when Casey or Bembry or D’Eryk (Jackson) get their name called, they’ll be ready to come in,” he said. “Now are any of the three ultimately where we want them to be? No. There’s still some growing in that position, but they’ve made significant strides to give us comfort that when they go into the game, they’ll be able to function.”
On the other side of the ball, Kentucky’s offense is also loaded with experience and hard working talent. After going through the offensive line and wide receivers, White decided that the whole offense as a system is difficult to deal with, even again naming freshman quarterback Beau Allen as a player that has been really impressive considering his inexperience.
“It’s hard — it’s the whole offense because they can get so explosive on a lot of different levels,” he said. “They can stretch you with the system. Every day our guys have to work — at every single level.”