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Loss of safety Darius West a ‘tough blow’ for UK; Stoops pleased with first scrimmage of fall

By Keith Taylor
KyForward senior sports writer

Kentucky’s defense took a hit Saturday with the loss of defensive back Darius West.

According to Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, West, a sophomore safety, tore his patella tendon during a scrimmage Saturday and will miss the rest of the season. West collected 17 tackles in 10 games last year.

Stoops said the injury to West was a “tough blow.”

UK Helmet

“He’s been through injuries before,” the Kentucky coach said. “It’s not the same leg. It’s not the same injury that he had before. He’s worked extremely hard to put him in position,” the Kentucky coach said Saturday. “We had really good battles going inside there at safety and he was sort of competing and running with the ones ever since the end of spring. He’s been the starter, but in competition still, but he’s worked really hard. I’m sorry for him, but he will miss the season.”

Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot agreed the loss of West will hurt the team’s depth in the secondary, but like Stoops, he’s confident West will bounce back from the injury.

“It is extremely tough for the kid,” he said. “You really feel for him with the injuries he’s had already in his career and how hard he’s fought through to bounce back, how much better of a player he had become even from last year to this year and the effort and enthusiasm and tenacity that Darius put into the game and practice. It’s disappointing that he’s not going to be able to reap the rewards this year. I still think Darius has a bright future.”

In the absence of West, Blake McClain, Marcus McWilson and George Asafo-Adjei will compete for more playing time next week when two-a-day workouts continue, leading up to the team’s season-opener against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 3.

Stoops added that a “slight” hamstring kept receiver Blake Bone out of practice Friday and Saturday while running back Mikel Horton injured his ankle Saturday. Starting running back Stanley “Boom” Williams was held out of the first scrimmage of the fall for precautionary reasons.

Overall, Stoops was pleased with the first scrimmage of fall workouts and said the offense is ahead of schedule.

“There were a few things that they needed to iron out that we were looking at and there was some good and some bad in that,” he said. “That’s what it takes. I like that. I feel like we’re ahead with a good dose of offense. You’ve hard me talk about other teams we play, if we’re stopping one thing, they go to a different package. And just having more in your arsenal.

“I definitely feel like we have the ability to execute things better with some of the new stuff. There were a few hiccups here and there, but again, I like where we’re at and I think we’ll get it cleaned up and use some of it. It’s good to be able to have that much offense.”

Stoops added starting quarterback Drew Barker “really made good decisions.”

“I felt like he was really smart with the ball and was decisive, made good decisions, quick decisions, took care of the football and moved the offense,” Stoops said.

On Friday, Stoops awarded junior and walk-on Charles Walker a scholarship. Walker also is a team captain on special teams.

“He has a great attitude every day,” Stoops said. “He has toughness, discipline, pride. He does everything right every day. He deserves this honor.”

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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