UK Football: Tight end-turned-linebacker Dupree ready to be a playmaker on defense
Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree (2) says he¿s much better prepared to play this season than he was last year when he changed positions just before the year started. ¿Now I know a lot more about what I¿am doing,¿ said Dupree. (Clay Jackson / August 31, 2012)
He made the move just before the Wildcats’ opening game last season and had 21 tackles while playing in all 12 games. He had 2 1/2 sacks last season, broke up two passes and had one fumble recovery.
Now a sophomore, he’s being counted on to anchor Kentucky’s linebackers — all new starters — going into Sunday’s game at Louisville.
“I am not worried about it because I know they trained hard, they are ready to go and whatever happens, it will not be because they didn’t want to win or they didn’t want to go 110 percent or didn’t want to give it all they’ve got. They have my complete confidence and Bud’s ability is a big reason for that,” linebackers coach Chuck Smith said.
Here is what Dupree has to say about the start of the season and his play:
Question: How excited are you for the season finally to almost be here?
Dupree: “Real excited. We worked hard all spring and summer, and now the first game is really here and everybody is excited.”
Question: Do you think much about the fact that a year ago you expected to be a playmaking tight end when the season opened and now you are being counted on as a playmaking linebacker?
Dupree: “I had to grow up pretty fast. Things I had planned on offense, I just try to roll them over to defense. Be a bigger impact in a different way.”
Question: Since you are an emotional guy, is it hard to control those emotions during games and not let that influence your play, or does that emotion help you?
Dupree: “I just go out and play football. I have fun and do a lot of things that people dream about doing. I just play to my fullest ability to try and do great things.”
Question: What do you think about coach Joker Phillips saying he would like you to play with more swagger?
Dupree: “I think it is a compliment, because he is telling me I can have more fun. When I make a tackle, I try to stay calm. He wants me to get hyped. I may get hyped after a big play. I don’t want to be a person that is real hyped all the time so people look at me like he is trying to be a big shot and not a team guy. I am just trying to be not too flashy, but I will be flashy at times.”
Question: But doesn’t the defense need a flashy playmaker?
Dupree: “We do need that, so I will be there when it is time for it. But we have other players, too, like Avery Williamson, that can flash a little bit, too.”
Question: How much better prepared are you to play now than at the end of last season after you were moved to linebacker early in your freshman year?
Dupree: “I think I am a lot better. Being a linebacker for the first time and then getting to train all spring and then in the summer conditioning and camp, I got better. I am much more prepared than I was last year when I was just thrown into the fight. Things should be a lot better.”
Question: Do you like people having big expectations for you?
Dupree: “It don’t bother me much. I am just going to play and play my heart out the best I can. I am going to do all my assignments, so the expectations don’t bother me. I try to be a good leader. Me and Avery try to help the defense out and make it the best it can be.”
Question: What will be the key to stopping Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater?
Dupree: “Really, just go out and do our assignments. Everybody not trying to do stuff you know you can’t do. Do things that you know you can do and not go off. Teddy is real elusive. He is quick, speedy. He can throw also. We have to contain him and keep him from getting outside the pocket. We can’t let him make big plays. We have to make sure we hit him and contain him.”
Question: Since their offensive line gave up 41 sacks last year and will have three sophomores starting, does that excite you about Sunday’s game?
Dupree: “We should be the strength. We have a lot of stars coming back and we have been working hard the whole offseason. I just want to go out there and just rush me. Just do like I have been doing all summer.”
Question: What do you feel is at stake in this game?
Dupree: “We have to set the tone in the state for how people think about us with the first game, how other SEC teams are looking at us and are going to judge us, how people are going to judge us. We just have to go out and prove a point.”
Question: Could this game change the perception of Kentucky football this year?
Dupree: “This game will change a lot of people’s minds. We are just going to go out there and do things to show people wrong and make everybody think we can be a contender instead of a pretender like everybody says we are. We are going to be the best we can be.”