LEXINGTON — Mark Stoops is glad the Wildcats have three more weeks remaining before the season opener.
“The scrimmage was just OK,” Stoops said Saturday. “We have a lot of work to do. I was really pleased with the offense, I felt made plays and did some good things” added the “typical mistakes” and “things that hurt us in the past” were main hindrances on the offensive side of the ball and “routine plays have to be routine plays.”
“We’ve got to get those corrected,” he said. “Getting behind the chains and penalties, we were a little sloppy that way. We did take care of the football, but anytime we got behind the chains, with a sack or negative yardage plays, it was hard to overcome. But overall, they did some good things.”
On the flip side, Stoops said, “defensively, we have a lot of work to do” and wasn’t happy with the upperclassmen and felt like the entire unit was “out of position.”
“I was disappointed with the strength of our team,” he said. “The inexperience is no excuse, but you know you’re going to make some mistakes and some things are going to happen, but strength of our team needs to be the strength and today, I just didn’t feel like we were up to the challenge defensively and that’s disappointing Fortunately we have a lot of time left to get some things rectified.”
Kentucky defensive back Jordan Griffin agreed with his coach and said the defense wasn’t up to par in the first scrimmage.
Griffin said the defense was “just really flat” during first scrimmage of fall camp and he added the path to improvement starts with himself and the rest of the defensive leaders on the team and “I just have to bring energy for my brothers” and working on the “little things that turn up big in the end.”
“We’ve got to want be out there, you’ve got to want to fo those things — bring energy (and) play with passion,” Griffin said. “We didn’t have that want to (in the scrimmage). We were really sluggish and we went through the motions. You can’t have that. … If one guy is down, we have to uplift each other and bring more energy.”
Coming off a final skin cancer treatment earlier this week, Josh Paschal saw extensive action in the scrimmage. Stoops sent Paschal home on Tuesday and the sophomore linebacker wasn’t 100 percent Friday but was upbeat and confident in the intra-squad scrimmage.
"I'm pretty much ready to go," Paschal said. "My treatment's over now, so I just gotta get back—they're easing me back into practice and everything. So hopefully I'll be full go by Monday and I'll have these next couple weeks to get ready."
Stoops continued to praise Paschal for his determination.
"Josh — he's remarkable," Stoops said. "We've talked about it a lot, but it's just—it's the truth. He's a real inspiration to a lot of us.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.