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By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he wouldn’t know until after today’s practice whether freshman Ryan Timmons, UK’s second leading receiver, would play at Vanderbilt Saturday. Timmons injured his ankle against Alabama State and did not play last week against Missouri.  Brown said the Franklin County product was “getting better” daily.

“If he does play, it probably will be in a limited role,” Brown said Wednesday.

Brown said Timmons will continue to blossom at receiver and running back in the years ahead.

“I think he’s learning at wide receiver. The way he was used in high school is really kind of the same way we’re using him right now, in a sort of hybrid running back/receiver,” Brown said. “He can improve his route-running a lot. You’re going to see a ton of growth between where he’s at now and when we kick off the season next year, where he’s at from a route-running potential. But I’m pleased with him. He’s given us quite a bit.”

Here’s more of what Brown had to say after Wednesday’s practice — UK’s final media availability of the week — going into the Vanderbilt game.

Question: Is quarterback Jalen Whitlow becoming a better leader?
Brown: “ “I think he’s growing. Yeah, I think he’s growing. I think he gets better – as we go along, I think he gets better. Is he where I would like him to be? Probably not. But I don’t know if that’s the case for anybody. I think coaches, by nature, we always want more. But I think he’s getting better. And I always have to remind myself that he’s a young kid that hasn’t played quarterback a whole lot. So I think he’s getting better.”

Question: Is anyone else showing the leadership you are looking for?
Brown: “Yeah, well, really I think our seniors have done a pretty decent job. I know our record doesn’t show that, but I think those guys have really competed hard. I think Jordan Aumiller has had a really successful senior season. I think he’s done a really good job from a leadership standpoint. I think Kevin Mitchell is playing through a lot of injuries. He’s done a good job just by toughness; not a real vocal guy but a good job. I tell you somebody that’s really growing, that I’m really encouraged by for the future is Jordan Swindle. He’s really playing well, at a high level. He competes hard, he plays hard, he’s tough. So he’s a guy that I think has a lot of potential to kind of take the reins in a leadership role as we go forward.”

Question: Does it help that Swindle, a tackle, has a nasty streak?
Brown: “Yeah, no question. I think any really good football team that I’ve ever been on, the tone is always set up front. And I really believe that you have to have some nastiness. You’ve got to play within the rules, don’t get me wrong, but you want a tough, physical presence up front. And when you have that, you have an opportunity to be good. Last year (at Texas Tech), arguably our best player was our left tackle. His name is LaAdrian Waddle. He’s starting for the Detroit Lions now, and he was a physical, nasty — and I mean that in a positive way — player, and he set the tone for everything we did on offense.”

Question: Is Whitlow doing things that you can build the offense on?
Brown: ““I think you see positive signs, no question. I thought he ran the ball extremely well in the third quarter (against Missouri). Now we’ve got to get him to do that all the time, but I thought he ran the ball really, really well in the third quarter. And hit a couple deep balls – the one that Ray fumbled, I thought that was a really nice pass. It’s the same exact play against Alabama State that he kind of bounced out there. So I think you see improvement. I think he can still play at a high level all the time. I think he is, like a lot of us on offense, inconsistent. But I do see things that lead me to believe that he can be a really good quarterback in this league.”

Question: What do you still need physically from Whitlow?
Brown: “I think he’s got to be consistently accurate with the football. I think that’s – and he knows that. He’s been inconsistent passing the ball. But there’s signs in every game that he’s played that he’s capable of doing that. We’ve just got to get him, from a fundamentals standpoint, to do that consistently.”

Question: What about his decision-making?
Brown: “I think it’s a work in progress. I think it’s significantly better than it was the Western Kentucky game. You know, we give him a lot of latitude. We don’t necessarily check a bunch of plays at the line of scrimmage, but in our offense we try to be as all-purpose as possible. Because we used to be an outfit that kind of checked at the line of scrimmage and maybe was a look-at-me a little bit more, where we all looked to the sideline, but defensive coordinators really caught onto that; when we check, they’re checking. So what we do is we try to have all-purpose plays where we’ve got maybe it’s a run/pass, a run/screen combination, and the quarterback makes the decision at the line of scrimmage either to run the ball or throw the ball. And those things, Jalen’s much improved, but he can still get better. What it does is it gives you easy yards. So if the numbers are in the box, he can throw it outside and we can get easier yards than trying to block all those people inside.”

Question: Are his  mechanics improving?
Brown: “Yeah, no question. And you all can tell, too, with the naked eye: when his feet are really close together, he’s not accurate. And he’s improving. At that technical issue, he is improving. He’s definitely improving.”

Question: Why is walk-on fullback Cody Jones playing so much?
Brown: “He’s just determined. He’s really – I should’ve talked about him from a leadership standpoint because he’s given us some backbone. He’s a tough, physical kid, from Kentucky, walked on here. It’s important to him. And his toughness shows. And he just won the job. He really just won the job. He competed. I think we had him at five or six knockdown blocks in the game. And he’s been a real pleasant surprise.”

10 Responses to Neal Brown on Timmons, Aumiller, Swindle, Whitlow, Cody Jones and more

  • Larry Pup says:

    Positive things to build on. Go CATS!!!

  • RJ says:

    Joker’s back… I think I heard him say the same things about Morgan Newton. Not sure if I can go back far enough on this board to pick up the exact day and time…….

  • Little Baron says:

    RJ, you make me chuckle… but it’s not funny for us to have to watch a re-run of last season, with the exception of some freshmen and new JUCO’s who show potential.

    Towles or Reese would have improved if they were given all the practice and game snaps that Whitlow has been given… but Whitlow still CANNOT pass beyond 5 yards.

    Very disappointing that this staff has not wised up and chosen to use ONLY QB’s who are not injured and can pass the ball. It is the future of this program, if there is going to be a future, so why not get it instilled into the team NOW!

    • RJ says:

      Sorry but I couldn’t pass it up. “The oh but he is getting better” is so lame. Brown wasn’t here so he could not understand how many times we heard Joker say the exact same words when he didn’t have good response to a question about Newton. Now we are hearing it again.

      To your point about playing Towles or Philips now. It would almost be a waste to pull their red shirts this late in the season. Nothing is to be gained. Earlier yes but now, I would have to say no. We’ll just have to see what shakes out next year. It’s shaping up to be a same ole’, same ole’ next year.

      • RJ says:

        Remember this promise by Stoops when he got hired???

        “We’re going to have an offense that you are going to enjoy, I promise you that,” Stoops said. “Where is (former Kentucky All-America quarterback) Tim Couch? We’re going to have an offense you’re going to be proud of. We’ll get out there and rip it around a little bit, we are going to throw it.”

  • Phillip Barker says:

    Couldn’t agree more with both RJ and Little Baron…Jalen’s a nice player, but he’s not a qb. Sticking with him and not getting Towles and Phillips some experience this year makes me wonder about Neal Brown. After Western kicked our butt, it wasn’t any secret that we’re short on talent, so why not find out what Towles and Phillips can do under fire??? Smith’s arm was gone before the season even began and Jalen’s inability to throw accurately was apparent early on so why not move on??? Makes no sense to me at all–sorry, but that’s the way I see it.

  • Little Baron says:

    RJ… if they have been “ripping it around a little bit, throwing it”…
    Then we are in for a repeat of the Joker “error” (no, not an era, but an error).
    I still (somehow) hope & think this staff will turn this program around, but it’s based in their ability to recruit. However, if they don’t use the recruits to their maximum usefulness, then it won’t happen.

    I continue to be concerned that Stoopa over-rode Brown on the QB choice before the season started and has continued to push for Whitlow. Stoops IS NOT an offensive coach & as a new HC he needed to trust his OC to have control of the reigns on offense. Maybe I am wrong, but why would Brown SUDDENLY abandon the offense that made him a successful OC unless he was over-ruled in decision-making. Four QB’s were “equal” and then 3 were “equal” just 2 weeks before WKU… So why would Brown choose the ONLY NON-passing QB to kick off a new era of UK football?

    • RJ says:

      Simple…… Stoops feels that Whitlow is the only one that can gain yards consistently. Remember that word – consistent.. Vince Lombardi (legendary Green Bay Packers Coach if you are not old enough to remember who he was) had a saying : When you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them are bad”. Stoops is a defensive expert, though current performance would challenge that proposition, and defensive people are naturally conservative. In defense you are attempting to stop a bad thing from happening. In offense you are attempting to make a good thing happen. It’s easier to be conservative in defense and be successful. That’s why at the beginning of the year, defenses are usually better than offenses until the season wears on. It’s a different mind set.

      Using this mind set, you may never see a purely passing QB at UK again.

  • Andy says:

    I am one of the few who still feel Reese and Towles should be reshirted. This was Max Smiths to lose and he lost it. It did not help his shoulder was suspect. His throws were way too wobly at times. Jalen may have been better in practice but it did not fully translate on the field consistently.

    Lets not forget how many recievers dropped balls all season? How many errors has the Oline made? With all these flaws, it is a good thing Stoops redshirted both quarterbacks to preserve some depth and let them absorb as much as they can for now.

    Drew Barker will be given every chance to win the competition along with Reese, Towles and Jalen. Brown did not say Jalen was the guaranteed starter next year. Do you expect him to say he is not a SEC level QN when the season is going on ? Get real!!

    Next season we will have depth at more positions. Some of you expect a quick fix but thats now it works in football. This team has had a culture of losing and the coaches are trying to change that. These coaches have had success and it is growing pains for everyone.

  • RJ says:

    I expect Stoops to make the attempt. What he is doing is not working. By that I mean, we are not even in the games we are playing most of the time. Even though we may talent challenged, you can still be in the game if you use the tools at your disposal. At least make the attempt.

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