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Neal Brown on Cards, running backs, tight end, defense, offensive line and more

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky offensive coordinator didn’t hold back before UK’s Blue-White Game when he was asked about the impact of last year’s attendance on recruiting.

“There’s no NFL team. So UK athletics is it. The other team (Louisville) doesn’t want to hear that, but it’s it. We’re the show in town, in the state,” Brown said Friday.

After Saturday’s Blue-White game in front of over 35,000 fans, Brown insisted he did not take an intentional jab at the Louisville football program.

“I was trying to be more positive about our fan base than negative against theirs. Louisville, obviously, I got a lot of respect for their program, (coach Bobby) Petrino and all those guys,” Brown said.

But he was pleased with UK’s spring game turnout again.

“Great turnout today. Very impressed with our people. I want to tell them a big thanks. Our Cat Walk was tremendous. It was like an in-season Cat Walk today,” Brown said. “I mean, they were lined (up), it was backed up. And the crowd in the game was terrific. And that shows people, that shows recruits that people are serious about football here, and we are very thankful. So I want to make sure that I thank the fans. I want them to know how much we appreciate that, how much our players appreciate that, how much that means in the recruiting process.”

“As far as the game went, some good, some bad. You know, spring games are hard, because you want to go out and you want to put on a good show, especially when you get a good turnout like this. You want to put on a good show, but you also got to be careful because we’re doing some different things. So you got to be careful that you don’t show too much, because the game’s on TV and it’ll continually run. So just like I watch other teams’ spring games that we’re going to play, they’ll watch ours. So you got to be careful with that.”

Here’s more of what Brown had to say after Saturday’s game:

Question: How did this spring compare to last spring?

Brown: “Well, we’re a lot better. We know what to do. We’re more talented. We talked about this yesterday: We’re not where we need to be. We need more talent. I think that’s obvious. We did run the ball decent. But I think as we get more talent. So we are better — fundamentally, we’re better. I’m eager to see if those fundamentals translate when people are in the stands.”

Question: Is the running game the offense’s strength now?

Brown: “I don’t know if we had a strength or not. We weren’t very good. I’ve been pretty honest with you all on that. We weren’t very good last year. We were maybe a little better than they had been but still not very good. We got to have something to hang our hat on. I think right now we’re pretty good at running the ball, and our play action game is pretty good. We hit a couple big play-action plays today.”

Question: Is it worrisome when trying to install the ‘Air Raid’ to have so few receivers?

Brown: “We’ve talked about this: our receiver situation a year ago this time was dire. You look back, four of our top five guys didn’t even go through spring last year, so that was a major concern. We are better. By no means do we have it fixed, but we are better. The young guys that played – (Jeff) Badet went through most of the spring then got hurt, Ryan Timmons is much, much improved. He’s got to get in shape, but he’s much, much improved. Jeff Badet is much improved. I would have loved for Javess Blue to get out there, but obviously he couldn’t.

“Now, the young guys, maybe they can come in here and win a job. But if not, now they’re not forced to be starters. Those guys last year, they didn’t have a choice. We didn’t have anybody else. You know what I mean? They didn’t have a choice. So now the guys can come in here, they’ll compete – the Dorian Bakers, the Garrett Johnsons, those type of guys. They can come in here and they can compete. If they don’t win the job, they can be solid backups. You know? Cause it’s hard to play as a true freshman. And then a year from now hopefully we’re getting our depth. Going into the 2015 (season) we’ll have our numbers where they need to be for this style of offense.”

Question: How did the first-team offensive line play?

Brown: “We put (redshirt freshman Kyle) Meadows in there. I wanted to get him – it’s important. He was the one that gave up the one sack, but I thought they protected well. They made some good holes. I thought it was important that we got him in there with the ones. He played better, he played better after his first series. He was a little nervous. But those guys — we’re going to lean on those guys. I’m excited about Ramsey Meyers, I’m excited about Jon Toth. Zach West is much improved. Then our tackles I think are legitimately really good players.”

Question: Was he pleased with the pace of the offense?

Brown: “Yeah, well early I really tried to go fast early. I thought we got on the ball and we moved pretty swiftly. But we didn’t have any guys rotate on either team at wideout, so they got gassed. In the second half, we just tried to take it slow and get out of here without people getting hurt.”

Question: How healthy was Ryan Timmons and how did he progress?

Brown: “He did some good things. I wanted to give him the ball, but I also wanted him to not get hurt. It’s a fine line. So, he did some good things. He’s got a chance to be a big-time playmaker for us. I’m excited about how he’s changed his body. I’m excited that his details are much better. He’s gotta be a guy — and I’m on my own time, so I don’t mind saying this publicly – when fatigue happens he’s gotta play through that and still play at a high level.”

Question: Was there a player or two on defense who caused problems?

Brown: “Yeah, Bud and Za’Darius, they show up a lot. Obviously, Bud didn’t play a lot today, but they show up. Other guys, Blake McClain does a good job matching our slots. He’s had a really good spring. Josh Forrest was a guy who made some plays that shows up. He’s long; he gets his hands on balls and I think does some good things.”

Question: What about junior college safety A.J. Stamps?

Brown: “Stamps, yeah. He makes tackles. I think he’s able to get out of in the box. He tackled Mikel (Horton) a couple times one on one, he’s a big back, good work for him.”

Question: What did he think of the running backs?

Brown: “Jojo Kemp’s healthy. You can tell there’s a difference. A considerable difference with Jojo being healthy. Braylon Heard’s faster. I was glad both of those guys got out in some open space early in the scrimmage early. I’m excited about those guys; they’re really pushing each other, too. That’s what we want at all positions. If we can get that competitive at all positions, we’ve got a chance.”

Question: What about the play at tight end?

Brown: “(Steven) Borden, he did a nice job. He caught a touchdown. It’s hard to assess his blocking until you get back and watch the film. We’ve got to get depth there. Right now, he’s playing by himself with (Ronnie) Shields being out. I think he’s gotten better, much more consistent.”

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4 comments

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  1. Larry Pup

    UK needs all their receivers healthy, and the new guys coming in should help. When and if that happens, they will be better IMO. I like the RB’s. UK is loaded there. The Oline needs to improve, and I believe they will be much better than last year.

    I was wondering if Bud was injured or something, he did not get many plays in, and Brown mentioned that. I was surprised that no mention of Meant or Coleman, and how they played.

    Brown cleared up the fuss over his comments about UK being the “only game in town” etc. He was not being disrespectful to the Cards, just bragging on BBN. Glad he cleared that up. Go Cats!!!

  2. RJ

    I keep thinking about Jalen Whitlow. When Cobb found himself in the same situation, he sucked it up and made the best of it. Ended up playing in the big show….. While I don’t want to dump on Whitlow because of his contributions last year, he showed that he it not in the same mold as Cobb. Knowing full well the shortage at wide receiver and his ability to contribute there quickly, all appearances suggest that let his ego get the best of him.

    I have to believe that there is more to this story than is being told.

    1. Andy

      I don’t think there is. The staff told him he would not be the QB moving forward and he decided it was QB or nothing and he left. Towles and Philips are better passes. Great athlete yes, QB no. He wanted to play QB and the staff told him it would not happen.

  3. UKFAN197TONE

    Any one have any info about Elam? Is he there, is he going to red redshirt?

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