Last updated: August 06. 2014 9:38PM - 191 Views
By Evan Crane UK Athletics

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LEXINGTON — Stoops, staff looking for leaders after subpar Wednesday practice

By Evan Crane on August 6, 2014 10:55 AM | No Comments | No TrackBacks

Before head coach Mark Stoops even stepped up to the podium to recap Wednesday’s practice, one could conclude the early-morning session wasn’t up to the second-year head coach’s standards.

“Average practice today. Not good enough. Just didn’t feel like we had the mentality that we needed. I don’t know. Too early in camp for guys to be feeling sorry about themselves getting up early,” Stoops said.

The Wildcats practiced for the third - and final - time this fall in the early-morning sunlight due to an overlap between fall camp and summer classes. Stoops, however, wasn’t willing to point to that as an excuse.

“You know I’m not giving them any place to hide,” Stoops said. “Not good enough. Just not tough enough, not enough energy, weren’t clean enough in our execution on either side of the ball. So, just wasn’t good enough.”

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot echoed Stoops’ words, adding with the team putting on shoulder pads for the first time he was expecting an energetic session.

“First day of pads and we didn’t play physical, that is disappointing,” Eliot said. “I was (surprised) because they haven’t put pads on in a long time. So I thought they would be excited and flying around and that we would have to slow them down not speed them up.”

But out of the haze of a disappointing practice, Stoops and Eliot hope leaders emerge. Both coaches said they will lean on the team’s leaders to get the team to regroup for meetings and walk-throughs Wednesday afternoon and Thursday with no full practice scheduled for Thursday.

“Leaders have to do what is right, not what is popular,” Eliot said. “We need guys to stand up and point out what guys are doing wrong and not care what other people think, those will be your leaders.”

When asked if Stoops and Eliot feel they have those type of leaders on the team this season, both said yes without hesitation.

“They know it wasn’t good enough,” Stoops said. “I told them it wasn’t good enough. We’ll correct them in meetings. We’ll get out here and have walk-throughs. We’ll push them and we’ll do what we need to do, but we absolutely need leadership in our program to take charge.”

On the injury front, Stoops announced after practice that true freshman safety Darius West will miss the rest of the season due to injury. West, from Central Catholic High School in Lima, Ohio, was a four-star recruit by nearly every recruiting database.

“He got hurt yesterday,” Stoops said. “So, it’s a real shame. He’s a good player. He’s everything we thought he was going to be. He’s a really talented football player. He came in with an injury and we thought it was healed up. But it didn’t work out, so he’ll be out for the year.”

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