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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown thinks the aggressive personality of running backs coach Chad Scott is showing with the way UK’s backs are performing in practice.
“I think all those running backs have really competed hard. I think Ray (Sanders) keeps getting better. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised at Raymond Sanders this year. I expect big things from him,” Sanders said. “Jon George, kind of a steady Eddie. Then Jojo (Kemp) and Dyshawn (Mobley), we need those guys. They’re different running styles, but we need those guys to come. And they are. They’re going to play.
“We’re going to have to be able to run the ball guys. We’re not in a position – we’re talking about freshman receivers. All that sounds good in this setting, but at the end of the day they’re still 17, 18 years old, and they’re still going to have to go out there and play. For us to put all of our cards in their deck or all our eggs in their basket, that wouldn’t be real wise. So we’re going to have to run the ball.”
That suits Scott, a former UK running back who coached with Brown at Troy and Texas Tech, as he pushes his backs to get ready for the season-opening game Aug. 31. Scott shared these insights.
Question: How are the running backs doing?
Scott: “They are looking real good. I have been impressed with the guys in terms of pass protection standpoint. They are coming along. (Senior) Ray Sanders is doing really well. He has had a great camp. The goal is just to keep him that way. Jonathan George has really come on and made some plays. He started out sluggishly, but he has picked it back up. Dyshawn Mobley has gotten back. He started out slowly, but he has made some big plays the last few days. And (freshman) JoJo Kemp has made some plays. I am really pleased with those guys, or at least I am right now. We have a long ways to go but we are making progress.”
Question: Is Kemp as good as you thought when you recruited him or maybe even better?
Scott: “He is as good as we thought and we thought he was good. He just has to continue to adjust to the wear and tear on his body from college football. His body has never felt like it feels right now. He just has to keep pressing, but he is as good as we thought.”
Question: Do you like Kemp’s enthusiasm and outgoing personality off the field?
Scott: “I like his toughness. Like his personality, love his toughness.”
Question: So is he a physical player like he claims he is?
Scott: “That is a fair description. He is a kid that will dictate tempo. He is not a follower. He doesn’t need nobody to push him. He is driven. That is one thing that has surprised me about him. He sets tempo. He wants it. He will jump in without somebody telling him. I really like that side of it.”
Question: How do you get backs to play with the tenacity you want?
Scott: “I always tell those guys if they lack energy, find it within me. I am always happy. The biggest adjustment from high school to college is pass protection. It is a lot of technique, but a lot is attitude and that’s one thing we stress. Everything we talk about always goes back to pass protection. If you can get those guys to have confidence to pick up the blitz, running the ball is almost second nature to them. ”
Question: Do you agree with coach Mark Stoops about Kemp having a pit bull mentality?
Scott: “He does have that mentality and we love him. Sometimes I have to pull him back. He will want to go up against somebody 90 pounds heavier than him. You can’t tell him he can’t do. He has that kind of mentality.”
Question: How would you describe Mobley in comparison to Kemp being a pit bull?
Scott: “One and the same honestly. Just a little taller and a bigger pit bull. The thing you will see with him is knowing who you are. JoJo is going to be a guy that can make people miss. He can break tackles, but at least for right now not being as big as other guys he’s going to have to specialize in making guys miss. Mobley is going to be a power runner. He’s going to break tackles. He’s going to make this offense exciting because he’s going to stay on his feet and run through people and get yards after contact and make big plays by breaking tackles.”