By LARRY VAUGHT
When former Kentucky football player Anwar Stewart returned to UK to complete his degree in 2017, he was a student assistant coach for coach Mark Stoops. After graduation, he was hired as an analyst for the football program.
“I helped with whatever the defense needed me to do to help,” Stewart said. “I would give scouting reports and how to attack offenses.”
During his two years at UK, he watched the maturation of All-American Josh Allen, who had a terrific rookie season with Jacksonville in 2019.
“I put in some time with him on basic footwork, pass rush progression and how to use his hands,” Stewart said.
Now Stewart is back at Kentucky as the defensive line coach and he has two players — senior Quinton Bohanna and junior Marquan McCall — who he thinks could be elite playmakers at nose guard. The 365-pound Bohanna has played in 37 games and has 49 tackles, including seven tackles for loss. McCall has played in 21 games with 26 tackles, including 5.5 for loss.
“Quinton, we have to get his weight down so he can be faster,” Stewart said. “We want to get his fundamentals back to where he is striking. He’s a big man. You have got to have a big, strong physical nose guard and he understands that.
“I have been showing him from how he played when he got here to now and we have to get him playing like when he first got here. He’s a great kid, and we’re excited to have him back. I expect nothing less than an all-SEC year out of him.”
He calls the 367-pound McCall a “powerful man” who is faster and quicker than players his size. Like Bohanna, Stewart wants to reduce McCall’s weight just a bit.
“Once we do that, he will be a handful,” Stewart said. “The great thing is we want guys to compete against one another. Competition either helps you up your game or lower it. We want guys to push each other to make the Big Blue Wall (UK’s offensive line) better on the other side and these two guys can do that.
“It’s great to have those two guys in the middle you know can plug the middle, take on double teams and just build a wall. We want it where offenses can’t run the ball and can’t make plays.”
Stewart is always going to emphasize physical play. He wants his players to maintain a good pad level, knock offensive linemen back, separate with a violent release, find the ball and go get it.
“You may get double teamed. We teach them how to deal with that,” Stewart said. “Football has not changed. It’s just about technique and if you are athletic and fast that just makes it that much better.”