By LARRY VAUGHT
LOUISVILLE — Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown continued one other stance he’s taken since he left Texas Tech to bring his fast-paced, productive offense to Kentucky. He made no excuses for the lack of depth or talent he inherited during his appearance here Friday at the Jefferson County UK Alumni Club luncheon.
“We’ve got to take what we have and mold them in the best-functioning unit. It doesn’t do any good for the players to mold to my system. I’ve got to mold my system to our players,” Brown said.
Sounds simple, but often coaches try to make players fit a system even when they don’t and that fails. Ask former UK coach Joker Phillips.
That doesn’t mean Brown is short of questions about the UK offense going into the Aug. 31 opener against Western Kentucky in Nashville.
“I think the biggest thing — and it’s no secret — is wide receiver. We don’t have a single guy back who’s caught a touchdown pass in a game,” Brown said.
Think about that? Brown runs a pass-oriented offense and UK lacks a returning receiver with a touchdown catch. That has to be troubling for him.
“I think our leading receiver has in the upper-20s in catches. So I think that’s the biggest concern,” Brown said. “I’m excited about those guys. It’s been a fun experience getting to go back and work with a lot of youth. We’re going to have four guys back who are no more than a sophomore on scholarship and we brought four guys in, so it’ll be a trying time, but it’ll be a lot of fun. I think those guys are going to be a live group from what I saw, but I think that’s probably the biggest question mark without question.”
The good news there is that Brown said UK “brought four guys in.” That has to mean he still expects junior college receiver Javess Blue to finish his academic work and be on campus soon along with freshmen Ryan Timmons, Jeff Badet and Alex Montgomery who have been in Lexington all summer. But Blue is older, bigger and more experienced — and a huge need for Brown’s Kentucky offense.