By LARRY VAUGHT
One thing Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown often talks about with coach Mark Stoops is that “success is contagious” at any level.
“We’ve had success other places, and we’ve got to be the catalyst for that success,” said Brown.
But other than the coaches, Brown believes UK has new offensive playmakers that know plenty about success, too.
“Javess Blue played in the national championship last year at junior college. Jeff Badet came from a winning program,” Brown said. ”Jojo Kemp won a good amount of games in high school. Alex Montgomery played in the state championship game in Florida at a big school. Jalen Whitlow is a young kid, too and he won state championship in Alabama.
“A lot of our young guys have experienced success. That is not new to them. With some of our older guys, things have not gone well the last couple of years and we have to repair confidence. With those young guys, we don’t have to. Those guys, they’re not shell-shocked. They’re not beaten. They’ve got a lot of confidence about them, and the more success they have, it goes out to the rest of the football team.”
Kentucky certainly had success Saturday when it rolled up 675 yards — the third highest total in UK history — in a 41-7 win over Miami (Ohio) that had the Air Raid sirens sounding like they did when Brown played at UK under Hal Mumme. In fact, UK had not gained so many yards since the 1998 game against Louisville when Tim Couch was quarterback and Brown was a walk-on receiver playing his first game — and making his first catch.
“The kids had a different aura about them. We were really hard on them this week in practice. I didn’t think we played with the tempo we wanted to play with last week (in a loss to Western Kentucky),” Brown said after the win. “We didn’t play as hard, as a unit, as we’ve played at other stops I’ve been. And we didn’t play as physical.
“So on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, we practiced really, really hard. We didn’t give an inch. I was probably worried a little bit too much about confidence going into that opener and should’ve coached them harder, so that’s my fault. But we got that corrected this week and I thought the guys came out and executed and played with a lot more energy. Our No. 1 goal today was ‘be excited to play,’ and I thought they were from the first drive on.”
Brown admitted he thought Mumme would have been pleased with UK’s 28-point first-quarter against Miami and having the Air Raid sirens sounding.
“It’s fun. There’s no question about it. It’s a good thing I think the fans got into it. Hopefully we’ll fill this place up next Saturday (for Louisville). We gave them a little excitement,” Brown said. “I don’t blame them for being a little frustrated last week. I was, too. But it was fun.”
Still, it was far from perfect despite the yardage total.
“We didn’t play as many plays as we want to, No. 1 because we got some penalties that were lack-of-discipline penalties, and No. 2 is because we were scoring,” Brown said. “I was pleased with the total. But there’s obviously — everybody in that stadium knows, too — we’ve got a long way to go.
“I think we are at the real infancy of the offense really. We are still not fluid at times. I was disappointed how we played the middle of second quarter to middle of third quarter. They changed what they were doing and we didn’t adjust very well. But I was pleased with how we finished. We rebounded there later in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we came back and play solid. We are going see a lot of corrections to make. We have to play with more discipline. We had a lot of penalties. That’s one big thing.”
And Brown knows what lies ahead, too.
“Now obviously, no offense to Miami of Ohio (but) our deal gets a little tougher after this,” Brown said.
Kentucky plays Louisville, Florida, South Carolin and Alabama in its next four games.