VAUGHT: Petri discusses defensive front

If you are looking for a reason to try and be optimistic about Kentucky's upcoming football season, pay attention to what UK defensive line coach Rick Petri has to say.

Not only does he like the players the Wildcats will have in their starting defensive front, but he also thinks Kentucky should have adequate depth -- and that's before he even gets a look at the incoming freshmen players like Ventrell Jenkins.

"I was really pleased with our guys when we ended spring practice and feel they will be ready to make a big move when we start two-a-day practices," Petri said. "It's hard for a new coach and players to immediately get on the same page. But I'm very happy with what we have. I am a big believer in depth because the better player you are, the more poundage you get. You better have depth, and I think we have it."

To prove his point, consider Travis Day and Dominic Lewis. Day has played sparingly on defense while Lewis has made several position changes in his first two years at Kentucky. But Petri thinks both could develop into productive defensive ends.

"Day is extremely aggressive. He loves the game, and contact. He has to tune in on what we are doing. Sometimes he does a little too much freelancing, but we need him to be a playmaker," Petri said. "The one thing Dominic showed in the spring was that he had a natural instinct for rushing the passer, and I like guys who can do that. He has to work on stopping the run, which is not as easy to do. But he's got ability and he's got bigger over the summer."

Petri likes the combination of Ricky Abren and Trey Mielsch at one inside spot. He feels Lamar Mills and Jason Leger are solid at the other inside spot. Myron Pryor could provide help at either spot.

He thinks converted linebacker Durrell White could be the perfect speed rusher at right end and feels B. Jay Parsons is an athletic, emotional player for the left end. "B. Jay brings his lunch pail to practice every day and goes to work. I love that," Petri said.

While he's not ready to predict the Cats will beat Louisville, he does believe UK's defensive front will be ready to compete with Louisville's big-play offense.

"We know how good they are, but I really like our guys. We have some good players. We just have to keep working, use our depth and make sure we know exactly what to expect from them," Petri said. "But I think our defensive front could be pretty good."

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