Kentucky’s 35-28 victory over Missouri took a physical toll on the Wildcats. Luckily, this week’s FCS opponent, Chattanooga, will give Kentucky a little time to exhale. As a couple of players recover from injury, it creates opportunities for more young players, particularly Trevin Wallace.
As Missouri fought to come from behind in the second half, two starting UK defenders were forced to the sideline for some of the action, Davonte Robinson and Jordan Wright. The super senior defensive back should be good to go, but Stoops considers Wright “day to day.”
“We’ll see how it goes,” the head coach said at Monday’s press conference.
Next Man Up
If you take a look at the depth chart, JJ Weaver is the next player in line to fill in for Wright. However, Kentucky is cautiously bringing along the budding superstar that’s recovering from a torn ACL. Weaver was supposed to only play a dozen snaps against Missouri, but ended up logging 30, resulting in two tackles for loss and a game-changing sack.
KD McDaniel received some significant snaps Saturday against Missouri. After Jalen Geiger failed to haul in an interception in the end zone, the Tigers faced a third and long. McDaniel read the screen to Tyler Badie like a book, but could not tackle the elusive running back, leading to Mizzou touchdown.
“As games go along and you get more experience, the more confidence you get, you generally make those plays. It’s a little different when you are out there full-speed in an SEC game and you got No. 1 out there on the perimeter. He’s a pretty good little player and he realizes that now. With more experience he’ll come along,” Stoops said.
McDaniel and Weaver will not be the only solution to Kentucky’s depth problems on the edge.
“We got some ideas and we’ll continue to bring KD along. He can help us. He’s doing some good things. He made a few critical mistakes Saturday with some inexperience, but we have some other guys we can fool around with as well.”
New Role for Trevin Wallace?
One of those “other guys” is Trevin Wallace. The highly-touted top 50 recruit from South Georgia showed off his athleticism Saturday night. Playing as a spy on obvious passing situations, the true freshman linebacker forced Connor Bazelak to throw the football quicker than the quarterback wanted to on Missouri’s final offensive play, leading to a Carrington Valentine pass break-up that ended the game.
When Stoops was asked if Kentucky could use Trevin Wallace in more situations, the head coach became tight-lipped.
“There is, especially with where we’re at right now with some of our outside backers and with J-Dub being banged up, there is some holes. Yeah, don’t ask me anymore because I can’t keep going,” Stoops laughed. “Thank you for pointing that out though.
Wallace is a raw talent that has the physical tools to play meaningful SEC snaps, but he has not played a lot of defensive football. He only has one year of high school experience at linebacker and as a senior he split time between outside and inside linebacker. If Stoops, Brad White and Jon Sumrall can put him in the right situations, Trevin Wallace can shine while Wright recuperates.