Frustrated LB Holts ready to play Cards

August 31, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Deion Holts is not happy.

First it was a broken bone in his hand early in preseason practice that resulted in him having to wear a cast during practice.

Next he hurt his back in a practice collision, had to miss practice and still officially is listed as questionable for tonight's season-opening game against Louisville.

Then he just kept hearing how overmatched he was going to be against Louisville tight end Ronnie Ghent.

"I have got so much frustration in me right now over the hand, all this out here, the camp, these coaches," Holts, an outside linebacker, said. "I am ready to take it out on somebody and Louisville is just the first one for me to take it out on."


The former walk-on player from Warren Central found a home in new defensive coordinator's Mike Archer 3-4 system during spring practice.

After playing end last year where he was undersized, Holts found that he had a better combination of size and speed for Archer's defense.

"I have picked everything up well. I am getting a better grasp of how our defense works every day," Holts said.

"I'm learning what other people also should be doing. If I know what the inside linebackers are doing, then I can know more about what I am doing at outside linebacker."

He even got used to playing with the cast on his hand.

"It would hurt off and on, especially when I would have to club someone," Holts said. "I'm planning on playing (against Louisville) without a cast or splint. That would make me feel a lot better because I feel I am at a big disadvantage with something on my hand.

"No discredit to our tight ends, but I know we are going to face better ones. I need to be full speed with my hand. With the injury, I couldn't use the hand to get off tacklers like I wanted."

The back injury was not believed serious at first. Holts landed on the back after being flipped in practice.

He returned after missing one day, then had additional pain.

However, he practiced Friday and planned to play tonight where he'll probably be matched up with Ghent often.

"He's good. I am not going to downtalk him," Holts said. "I think he has made all-conference, but come game time, we will see how good he is.

"I am not intimidated. I kind of like it. Everybody is hyping the situation and everybody here and at home is telling me how he's going to do me this way and that way. That's just motivation in my head. I am not taking anything from Ronnie Ghent. He's a good tight end. But to me, he's more known as a receiver than a tight end. Last year when we played them, he didn't block too good. He's good, but we will see who the bigger man is come Sunday."

Watching: Sophomore receiver Glenn Holt won't start tonight's game, but he still figures to play a much more prominent role than he did in last year when he was a true freshman.

That's why he's glad the game is on ESPN2 and his family and friends in Florida can watch.

"National television is the best, especially for players like me that are a long way from home," Holt said.

"People back home just wait to see Kentucky on TV so they can watch me. I give a call back home telling them a game will be on, and everybody watches. This is a big thing for me."

Opening game: Count Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope among those who thinks having Kentucky and Louisville play the opening game is good for football in the state because of the interest it generates.

Hope was an assistant coach at Louisville for nine years when the teams didn't play. He was back on Louisville's staff last year when the Cats came into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and won.

"This is a great rivalry and is a difference maker for football in the state. It never made sense to me when I was coaching at Louisville before and we didn't play." Hope said. "This game can only help football in the state.

"I've read where everybody has different points of view about when the game should be played. I don't see how opening against a good team can do anything but help you. Maybe if you had a brand new team and a bunch of guys that had never been on the field, you might like an easier opponent than your archrival to start the season. But you can't guarantee when you will be in that situation, so it's just better to be ready for a tough game one. I just don't see how that can hurt Kentucky or Louisville."

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