- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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HOOVER, Ala. -- The strength of Kentucky’s team this season should be right where you want to be stout in the SEC.
The defensive line.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Wednesday the Wildcats will lean hard on their defensive front, and he’s expecting big things from the inside duo of Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph. They’re both juniors, and they’re both well over 300 pounds.
More importantly, Phillips thinks they’re poised to be every-down difference-makers after showing it in flashes last season.
“The light has come on for both of those guys,” Phillips said.
The Wildcats also have some depth up front. Senior Collins Ukwu returns at end after starting 24 games over the past three seasons. The 6-foot-5 Ukwu is now up to 260 pounds after arriving at Kentucky weighing around 210.
“Everybody knows that you win games in this conference by winning up front,” Ukwu said. “We know it’s on us to set that tone in the defensive line, and we’re ready for that challenge.”
The other thing that helps is that this will be the Wildcats’ second season in Rick Minter’s system. They were more aggressive a year ago and forced more turnovers.
“We’ve been in the film room even more this summer, and there are some talented young guys, too, like Bud Dupree, Farrington Huguenin and Mike Douglas who will make an impact,” Ukwu said. “We need to be the main piece to this defense.”
20hDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff