Dicky Lyons Jr. knew catching two touchdown passes in two straight games was not going to make Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips overlook mistakes he still may have made in Saturday's win over Texas State.
"Steve Johnson had a good game, so he will make sure me and him are still competing for a position," Lyons said. "But that will keep us both getting better. That is what makes good players better. When you have somebody good behind you that can take your spot in a heartbeat, you have to practice hard. That makes you step it up every day in practice."
And what is he working on, especially since four of his five catches have gone for touchdowns this year? "I have to work on my hands. I still need to cradle the ball when I catch it. I want to get better. I am really working on that in practice. I want to make more big plays. Before, I was just having to make a catch back in the day. But now I really want to make big plays, so I am working harder," Lyons said.
Back in the day? Come on. Lyons is not a sixth-year senior, he's a third-year sophomore on the verge of stardom. "It has been a long wait, though. Everybody comes in their freshmen year thinking you are going to play. I had so many physical setbacks that it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm finally where I can make big plays for us," Lyons said.
Lyons admits "disappointing" is an accurate word to describe his career until this year. Coaches constantly talked not only about his potential, but also about his lack of focus in practice.
"Me personally, I disappointed myself that I didn't come out the first game and start. That's what my expectations were," Lyons said. "I came up here real Dicky and didn't think I had to prove myself on the practice field. But that's what I had to do, and I did prove that this fall camp. I proved I could practice hard. Before I always thought the coaches had seen my game tapes and knew what I could do. When I got in games my freshman year, I made plays. But not practicing hard is not going to cut it in this league.
"I have definitely learned that. You have to find a groove in practice and not slack off. There's a time to play around maybe when you are working on some individual stuff, but when it comes time for team drills, you have to focus and always be ready. This is big-time football. It just took me some time to figure out that in big-time football, you have to be serious all the time."
Lyons likes Phillips' motivation
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