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Neal Brown on dropped passes, bye week, Javess Blue, positives

By LARRY VAUGHT

For offensive coordinator Neal Brown, Kentucky’s open week could not be coming at a better time.

Starting quarterback Maxwell Smith has re-injured his shoulder, six receivers combined to drop eight passes in a loss to Louisville Saturday, and the Cats face Florida, South Carolina and Alabama in their next three games.

“We’re not real deep and we’re a little banged up, so I think we’ll get health (from the open date),” said Brown after Saturday’s loss. “Any time you lose, you’d love to get back out there. I’d love to play tomorrow and get this taste out of our mouth, but can’t change it.

“I approach the bye week just like I approach every day with these guys. Every day, we’re so young and we’re so inexperienced and we’re at the infancy of this program. So every single day I go into every single meeting — this is cliche and you probably won’t like it, but this is the God’s truth — I got into every single meeting, every single practice and think about: How can we get better today because I know what we’re building for. How can we get better today that gives us an opportunity to win on Saturday without losing the effect of who we are.”
Brown lamented Kentucky’s failure to make the “routine plays” against Louisville that thwarted the offense, and much of that was due to the dropped passes.

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

Question: What about all the dropped passes?
Brown: Too many. That was kind of our M.O. in the spring, and that’s the thing I was talking about: routine plays. We had drops, we missed routine throws at the quarterback position. Just routine plays. Y Everybody thinks you’ve got to make great plays on offense. All you got to do is make consistent routine plays. And the reason we weren’t productive in the first half is we didn’t make routine plays.”

Question: Did the drops impact your play calling?
Brown: “It hurts you, just because you’re fighting behind the chains. And we’re in a situation now where we struggle behind the chains. I don’t think that’s a secret. But obviously we need to make those plays.”

Question: Why do players drop passes?
Brown: “I don’t know. If I knew that one, I’d be … I don’t know. It’s a couple things. I think No. 1 is focus. Not lack of focus, like being in the game, but trying to do too much after the catch. I think the other thing is maybe nervousness. We’ve got some guys that for whatever reason, we get in these type of atmospheres and we’re not as productive. But we’ve got to get better. We catch a lot of balls. I thought last week we caught the ball well. This week we didn’t, and it was in some crucial situations.”

Question: Did the drops occur in spots where the right play was called if the pass had just been caught?
Brown: “It’s hard to tell until I get back to watch it, but I really felt good about our plan. I felt good about our plan. And even in the run game, when I talk about routine plays, like up front today in the run game, we ran the same plays in the second half that we really had some big runs and in the first half we just didn’t do as good a job up front managing their movement. They move on every single snap. It wasn’t unexpected. We thought we were prepared for it and we got caught with our eyes down and they made some plays. But I felt good about our game plan. Obviously I won’t know how effective it would’ve been. We didn’t execute it as well as I would’ve hoped.”

Question: Are drops contagious?
Brown: “I think they are. I think maybe guys start thinking about it and it gets in your head. But at the same point, you’ve got to fight through that stuff, you know what I mean? You have to fight through it. We constantly talk about a next play attitude and we’ve got to fight through that.”

Question: Despite having two drops against Louisville, is junior college transfer Javess Blue emerging as a dependable receiver?
Brown: “e played well, made some plays. And we need him to. He’s our best threat right now. There’s no question. This is new to him, too, though. In junior college, he went to a great junior college, but they weren’t playing in front of 65,000 on ESPN and in a big rivalry game. He had a couple drops, too, but he made some big plays.”

Question: What positives does he come out of the game with about Kentucky?
Brown: ““I think there’s a lot of positives. Our defense played their tails off. That quarterback’s as good as anybody in the country. Their receivers are as good as anybody in the country. That offense is very talented and is well-coached, and our defense made a lot of plays. Obviously, we didn’t help them out. We couldn’t convert on third down to keep them off the field, and our guys got a little tired in the second half. I thought we played really well in the special teams. Our returns were much improved. I thought we showed some signs (offensively) in the second half of being better. But I think there’s a lot of positives. They’re a good football team.”

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15 comments

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  1. Gene T.

    All Coach talk! I am one of 1000′S who is so tired of all these interviews. Show me on the field!!!! Defense actually looked good. Offense, I don’t know. Why do you run the ball when you need 8 or 9 yards on 3rd down. Get positive yards on 1st or 2nd down. I have not seen any Air Raid. I realize we need players to execute the game plan, but what do we have to loose. Florida, Alabama, is going to be a huge mountain to climb. UL was really a win if we just play good football. UL is the 3rd worst team we play.
    WKU, Miami Ohio, AlabamaSt, then UL are the worst teams we play. Well looks like another 2 win season, but a much improved team. Let’s hope we surprise some one
    . I want to see more from the offense

  2. Ira

    Gene some of the 3rd and 9-10 were because WR’s dropped passes on 1st and 2nd. We got behind the chains. Calling a draw or a run lay when a D is expecting another pass can get you those yards. But the offense can’t get you behind the chains with penalties either or turnovers in the red zone.

    FL isn’t the mountain they used to be. Our offense gets out of its own way, ie play like they did against Miami OH, and our D keeps playing very well we can beat FL.

  3. John

    Max Smith just worries me more and more each game. He cannot have the amount of 3 and outs that he does and expect the defense to hold the other team scoreless. If it weren’t for Jalen I believe we would have lost 26-3 on Saturday. Jalen was brought in at the end of the third quarter and led drives of 71, 75, and 54 yards and scored points on two of those drives. Max played 3 quarters, led 9 drives, had four 3 and outs, and only scored 3 points in 3 quarters. Jalen scored ten points in one quarter. Jalen gives this team a better chance to consistently move the ball and score while giving the defense a much needed break. I believe if Jalen had played QB the entire game against Louisville that it would’ve been a lot closer, and maybe the defense doesn’t get so worn down and we pull off the upset.

    1. goUKats

      Max wasn’t the one who dropped passes that were on target.However,he did overthrow a couple which even Peyton Manning or any pro will do at times.

      If UK is going to have a passing attack,Max is their best bet.unless Towels or Phillips can prove they belong on the field.

      Jalen had a terrible costly fumble on his first play,threw several passes into the ground well short of their intended targets,and had a critical interception on the goal line.His best positon would be the Wildcat as he is one of the best ball carriers on the team.

      1. King Ghidora

        Gee I remember Jalen throwing a pass 4 yards behind the receiver that resulted in an interception right down at the goal line. No way this is all Smith’s fault just as you say. I totally agree that Jalen needs to be in a position to run the ball. And he can throw well at times. But he did not throw the ball well in crucial situations in the UL game. That interception was very costly. The defensive intensity dropped a big step after that play.

        Jalen has a ton of talent as a runner and some talent as a passer. But let’s not forget that the reason Smith is the QB now is that Jalen messed up repeatedly when he had the job. I really hope he can get it together. But an Air Raid offense requires a pass first QB and I don’t think that’s what Jalen is. He is an explosive runner. I’d love to see him playing halfback at times or maybe a slot receiver. He has a lot of ways to help the team IMO.

    2. RJ

      Whitlow gave away 10 points through turnovers, and he scored 10 point while in. Net effect 0. He (was) is a unreliable passer outside of 10 to 12 yards from scrimmage. His first first look is to run. The defense knows that if they cover the first line of receivers, he will tuck it and run they will adjust for that tendency. That’s not going to score enough points to win.

  4. Georgia Blue

    I thought on 3rd and short that the QB should have line up under center, because we couldn’t block their 94 LORENZO MAULDIN coming off the edge and hand the ball off to our FB DJ WARREN or QB sneak it if nobody was over the center. Then if you go back and watch the game they took away the jet sweep with TIMMONS . I notice last we had a flow going on offense . The plays were coming in fast and we were moving at a up tempo, but Saturday we didn’t run a up tempo offense. We gave them time to adjust on 3rd and short, because they ran a stunt right where we were running our plays. 3rd and 1 or 3 rd and 2 your back can’t get hit as soon as he get the ball. But overall you got week to figure this out and you got a week to get everybody healthy , because come September 28 you will be facing a top 10 defense with speed and talent up front.

  5. Larry Pup

    UK is young. There were positives like coach said. UK has some play makers now and it will start to roll very soon. Kemp will be a back to be reckoned with in the games ahead. They must get him the ball. As for Mauldin, our TE has to block him or slow him down. It never got done. He had a tremendous game. Also you gotta give Louisville some credit, they are pretty damn good. UK has to learn to settle down in big games and play with confidence. They seem to choke, and that is due to youth. I still say be patient this year. They are growing up right before our eyes.

    1. goUKats

      Here’s hoping the team can make huge improvements over the next two weeks.The opportunity is there,biggest question is,will the players take advantage of it?

      1. King Ghidora

        The offense has a bunch of guys with talent. They just need to step up the way the defense did last week. They were probably just too anxious to beat UL. Sometimes that can knock you out of sync and the way it shows up is when guys try to run before they catch the ball. And that happened several times in that game.

  6. Ira

    Yeah LarryP, seems we have non existent TE play. Wonder if our TE’s have heard of chip blocking.

    And John Max can only deliver the ball to the WR’s. he can’t go out there and catch them as well. Javess Blue even dropped a potential TD catch. Whitlow’s offense looks great when JoJo Kemp has those breakout runs of his. But go back and look at the number of incomplete s Whitlow had in the game.

    1. RJ

      Good obversation Ira.

  7. King Ghidora

    Every dropped ball seemed to be about players wanting to run before they caught the ball. That’s correctable. Plus you just have to wonder about people having rabbit ears. That may not be correctable. It’s a terrible thing to say but when you catch a pass inside with your back to those linebackers a lot of guys are thinking protect themselves first and catch the ball second. And you just can’t do things that way. It doesn’t work.

    People think QB’s are the most vulnerable players when they’re throwing a pass. Those people are wrong. A receiver cutting across linebacker country and catching a pass puts you in a complete blindside position. You have no idea who’s going to hit you or from what direction. It’s pretty easy to stay healthy if you can see what’s coming at you (like QB’s do most of the time – they do get blindsided some) but when you don’t know where the contact is coming from you can’t protect yourself by slipping the bulk of the hit.

  8. shinny

    Please Whitlow throws off his back foot!!! It’s the joker thing again, Whitlow played very little QB in high school, we have only three QB’s and one is going to have to come to the front! Whitlow would be good at “wildcat” no doubt. I say this staff will get it figured out and we can still reach 6 & 6!!!!

  9. cris

    Ozzy Sheehan, can’t keep him off the field forever.

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