Defensive line coach Rick Petri knows not to take anything for granted about next season. However, Petri also knows he would be foolish to think Kentucky
's defensive front won't be much better in 2006 than it was last year when injuries depleted his unit almost from the start.
"I definitely do think we have more flexibility and versatility right now," said Petri. "We don't have as much depth outside (at end). Dominic Lewis is coming on and helping there. That helps. But we've got to find somebody else among the guys that are here, the guys that are hurt or the new guys coming in to help us there. We have to find outside help, but inside we are looking pretty good."
Petri's unit has helped Kentucky's defense stifle the offense for most of spring practice as UK prepares for the Blue-White Game Saturday that ends spring practice.
"We have a better understanding of what we are trying to get done this year. I was new last spring and the players were trying to figure out what I was talking about and I was trying to figure out if they understood what I was saying," Petri said. "Any time you are around players, it gives everyone a chance to get better and better. But they are also extremely motivated. They all want to be good and that has taken over our whole attitude."
Petri says competition will continue to benefit his players and that Kentucky should have some incoming freshmen to add to the mix, too. "If you have competition, then you are going to have better effort and focus at practice daily because if you want to play on Saturday, you have to get the job done Monday through Friday," Petri said.
He says tackle Myron Pryor is having a "great spring" and has been the obvious standout player. However, he says end Nii Adjei Oninku has picked up his play recently. Petri also says injuries have slowed the progress of end Durrell White, tackle Jason Leger and tackle/end Ricky Abren.
"Myron and Nii Adjei are the two who have stood out the most, but they are also the ones who have not had injuries," Petri said. "(Tackle) Ventrell (Jenkins) has done well, too. He's been slowed a little by an injury, but he is extremely aggressive, loves to play and wants to do well. He's probably next behind Myron and Nii Adjei of guys who have been impressive this spring. Of course, if you are able to consistently practice, you have a chance to improve more. If you are here one day, gone a day or two and then back, it's hard to get better."
Petri knows about getting better. He needed heart bypass surgery last season, but insists he's feeling great now. And he can joke about it. When told he was "looking good" despite the hectic practice schedule, he laughed and said, "As good as I can look. I might be maxed out on that, right. But that's one thing I can't change."
Defensive line coach Rick Petri knows not to take anything for granted about next season. However, Petri also knows he would be foolish to think Kentucky's defensive front won't be much better in 2006 than it was last year when injuries depleted his unit almost from the start.