By LARRY VAUGHT
New Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White has to replace UKs top six secondary players from last year — along with linebacker Josh Allen, the national defensive player of the year and first-round draft pick by Jacksonville.
“You can’t replace Josh. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows Josh was a special talent, one of those generational-type players,” White said Friday. “What we have to do now is find the next one. It’s find the next guy that’s going to elevate his game.”
Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done when it comes to replacing the consensus national defensive player of the year.
“The thing that made Josh so good, he went from seven sacks, seven sacks, to 17. You have a guy like Jamar Watson, Boom, he had three his freshman year, five last year, and hopefully we can continue to push that number,” White said. “That’s a guy we’re going to lean heavily on.”
Fortunately for White, there’s more in his arsenal.
“Getting Josh Paschal back (after missing most of last year after being diagnosed with cancer), that’s going to be huge,” White said.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing our interior pass-rush really push their sack numbers and their hurries and pressures. We’re going to try to effect a lot with those guys. When you have T.J. Carter, Calvin Taylor, Q (Quinton Bohana), you bring in a (Kordell) Looney, a Phil Hoskins, I mean, we should be able to have some success interiorly.
“Then when I look out there and see guys like Kash (Daniel) and (DeAndre) Square and (Chris) Oats and Jamin (Davis), inside linebackers that can blitz, cause all kinds of issues. A lot of times those inside linebackers are going to be matched up on running backs. Those are one-on-one situations we anticipate winning and we need to win if we’re going to be successful. We’re going to put some weight on their shoulders to go win those one-on-ones.”
Yet he knows Kentucky’s defense will need more and hopefully will have some younger, less experienced players elevate their play. He says alignments can help protect the secondary at times, but most plays the new secondary players have to perform.
“Somebody on every down has to wear the hat. They’re going to have the tough down. What you want to do is you want to put the tough down more often than not on the guys that are experienced or that can wear that hat,” White said. “But there’s going to be times within a game that everybody, no matter how young you are, no matter how experienced you are, you’re going to have to wear the hat on that down and rise to the occasion.”