TIREY: A new defense for Archer, part two

Part 2: Archer thinks that this year will be different in other ways, with some of the dead weight gone from the squad. The secret began to slowly leak out over the last two years, that there were some who did not believe in what the coaches were trying to do.

Archer thinks that this year will be different in other ways, with some of the dead weight gone from the squad.  The secret began to slowly leak out over the last two years, that there were some who did not believe in what the coaches were trying to do.  There were those that did not believe that academics was an issue for these coaches.  They have since found out differently.  “We as coaches,” said Archer, “we can’t spend every minute around our players.  We’re allowed to be around them four hours a day under NCAA rules.  I like to walk through the locker room, that’s kind of my thing now, to go through the locker room and make sure the locker room is clean and the kids are taking pride in what we’ve given them and kind of have a feel for our football team.  I like to talk to our trainer, Jim Madaleno.  I like to talk to [equipment manager] Tom Kalinowski, because they are around our players just as much as we are.  I can’t sit here and tell you that every problem has been solved, but I think the ones [players] we got right now, want to be here.  They understand the commitment and the demands that we’re going to put on them.  The ones that chose not to be here…good riddance.  And I think our players feel the same way.   We look at it in the big picture.  The ones that do a good job off the field, inevitably do a good job, mentally, on the field.  Maybe they’re not big enough, fast enough, and strong enough, but they know what to do.  The ones that didn’t do what they were supposed to do, killed us mentally last year.  We’ve got some weeding out to do.  We still have some people that haven’t completely bought in to what we’re trying to do.  Some of those guys…are on the edge right now.   You’ve read about the suspensions, some of those guys will be with us and some won’t.  But the ones that are with us, those are the ones we’re going to coach.” 

Archer coaches the defensive side of the ball, but even he knows what a boost it was to get Tommy Cook back on the squad this year.  “In November,” said Archer, “when they told us he was coming back, I knew that would make us a mentally tougher football team.  It would make us physically tougher, because Tommy Cook has been through a lot.  He’s not a clubhouse lawyer, but Tommy’s one of those guys who will say ‘you know, if you don’t like it, get your butt out of here’”.    

So what is the goal of this team in the spring period of practice?  Archer says there are three goals for his defense, and really the team as a whole this spring.  “Number one, understand our new defense.  Understand our terminology, how we call things, and our communication.   Number two, most important, probably, is fundamentals.  The fundamentals of taking people on, getting off of blocks, and tackling.  And number three is becoming a team.  And becoming a team means, there are going to be some guys who are going to have to make some sacrifices.  We’re practicing in the mornings so guys can’t go out at night.  We know they’re college students.  But they’re going to have to make sacrifices.  One of the things I’ve talked a lot in the off-season to our defense about is, when you’ve never done something or accomplished something, then it’s going to take something special to do it.  It can’t be status quo.” 

It all boils down to accountability for Kentucky this year.  That’s the buzzword for all the coaches.  I’ve heard it from four different coaches in the past five days.  But it has even more meaning for Archer.  “Today, after practice, we had a couple of kids that still haven’t bought into going to class, completely, doing what we want.  So our whole defense suffered.  We did a few extra up-downs as an entire defense, because of seven guys.  But when one fails, we all fail.  The one thing I thought was interesting, after I made them do extra, and they were tired, was their final chant was ‘we’re family’.  Last year, I don’t think that would have happened.”  We may have to dust off our old vinyl copy of the Sister Sledge album, We Are Family.


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