LEXINGTON - He barely played in Kentucky’s first three games, but freshman cornerback Cody Quinn has started and played well the last two games against Florida and South Carolina.
He didn’t play against Louisville or Western Kentucky and did not have a tackle in brief playing time against Kent State. However, he had three tackles at Florida and three more in Saturday’s 38-17 loss to South Carolina.
“Cody Quinn I thought played well,” said UK¿defensive coordinator Rick Minter after Saturday’s game. “You did not hear his name called a great deal for anything bad. We are not getting interceptions right now, but I am proud of the way those young corners are coming along and Cody certainly is playing well.”
Here is what Quinn had to say after the South Carolina game.
Question: What are your thoughts on the loss to South Carolina?
Quinn: ““We came out with enthusiasm. We played well in the first half. We just have to keep it up in the second half because it’s a 60 - minute game. We can’t play for 30 minutes. Look forward to next week. Just have to keep fighting.”
Question: What were you thinking in the second half when South Carolina overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit?
Quinn: “It kind of felt like it was shifting away. Defensively, we made a few mistakes. We just have to pick it up and keep fighting. It’s a 60-minute game and we can’t just let up. We’ve been known to do that in previous games.”
Question: Did the play of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore surprise you in the second half?
Quinn: ““He’s a great player. I seen him back in high school. He’s been doing that for a while. I’ve known him for a while. I feel like we could’ve stopped him. They started to ground and pound. They started to just run it down our throats. What they were doing running side to side wasn’t working, so they changed the game and what they were doing the second half.”
Question: Does it help knowing you had a 17-7 lead over the nation’s No. 6 team with an abundance of young players playing?
Quinn: “That is a great positive. (Quarterback) Jalen Whitlow was nice out there. (Receiver) A.J. Legree was good. We have a whole bunch of freshmen and sophomores playing. We just have to keep working and getting better each week. We can be good if we keep working and progressing and don’t get down on ourselves. It is exciting for our class. It’s exciting to see a lot of young guys getting playing time and making plays. That’s great for our future, but we have to focus on right now. We have Mississippi State coming up. We have to work and see what we can correct.”
Question: How much more comfortable do you feel playing now?
Quinn: “It’s starting to feel better and slow down for me. The more reps you get, you start to get better.”
Question: What was the first half like when UK built a 17-7 lead?
Quinn: “I was anxious. I was pumped. I¿felt like we had it. But it is a 60-minute game. Ain’t no way around it. ¿You have to be ready for the second half. That’s what matters.”
Question: Has it surprised you how much you are playing?
Quinn: “If you would have told me that in the summer, I would not have thought it. Now it is reality, so I just have to keep playing.”
Question: But weren’t you confident you could help here when you signed to play at UK?
Quinn: “I thought I could, but then I got into camp and I didn’t know. They were just being patient with me and getting me ready to play. I am not overwhelmed. I am kind of cool about everything. I¿am just pumped and ready. I¿am just trying to get a win. That is what it comes down to.¿I have played pretty well the last two games, but I still have to get better. I try not to pump myself up and get the big head. I have to stay humble and get better.”
Question: How much fun is it to have freshmen Fred Tiller and J.D. Harmon also competing for playing time at cornerback?
Quinn: “It is awesome. It is tremendous to see the talent level we have and we are only 18 years old. It is exciting.”
Question: Is it fun to compete against freshmen receivers Demarcus Sweat and A.J. Legree in practice?
Quinn: “They are tough. Going against them every day, you have to get better. You have no choice.”
Question: Did Whitlow do anything to surprise you against South Carolina when he came in at quarterback?
Quinn: “He just came in and made plays. He made a few mistakes, but it was awesome. He just learns daily and makes progress every day. He just has to keep his composure and just not lose himself. Stay calm even in adversity and keep playing.”
Question: Is it difficult to deal with losing now that Kentucky is 1-4?
Quinn: “Yes. Nobody likes losing.¿I hate losing. It is kind of tough. You have to stay positive about it. It’s hard. Coming from high school and not being used to losing, it’s a hard transition. It’s a different level, though. I think we are just a bit away from turning things around.”