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Offensive coordinator Neal Brown on QB depth, practice reps, Reese Phillips


Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown was at the Kentucky Football Coaches Association Clinic in Danville Saturday and shared a variety of thoughts.

Question: How many scholarship quarterbacks do you like to have on the roster?
Brown: “I think everybody would like to have five. The perfect world is five. You have four classes with a redshirt in there, so you would like to have five. But I think you need four. Quarterback is so much different than any other position because only one plays, but you have to make sure you have depth. A prime example of that is last year at Kentucky (when they played four quarterbacks). They were one (more) injury away from really having a catastrophe there. So I think you want to have five, but I think four is what you can get away with.”

Question: Since your offense is based so much on timing, how do you get enough practice work for quarterbacks who are not No. 1 on the depth chart during the season?
Brown: “You have to be creative. You have to get those guys reps. If you look at the track record in this league, your second and sometimes your third quarterback are going to get quality playing time. You have to keep those guys sharp but at the same time you have to make sure your starter is ready to go. You have to be creative in how you practice. Sometimes you can go two groups so your backup quarterback is getting reps. I think you get your second team quarterback more reps than you normally would in some other leagues. I think it is all about creativity. They have to understand — and it is in their face from last year — that recent past shows stars can get hurt and they have to be ready to roll.”

Question: Even Reese Phillips came to UK in January expecting to be redshirted in 2014, but did his spring practice performance change that thinking?
Brown: “He played really well in the spring game. The thing I like about Reese is how he handles himself. He is a calm guy. The situation is never too big for him. He played in front of 55,000 (at the spring game), which is by far the most he has ever played in front of, and handled himself extremely well. I think a lot of it will be how he matures over the summer and how much more of the offense he can pick up and the first two weeks of the fall camp. If he can continue to make strides, maybe he could be a factor.”

Question: Since he was already committed to UK when you were hired and you had little time to evaluate him, did he surprise you in spring practice with his play and is he maybe better than you thought?
Brown: “I think that is fair. I didn’t really know a whole lot about him. The first time I saw him throw was at our spring practice. I liked his film. I liked his body makeup as far as his size. He is a big, strong kid. He had good grades, good family. All those things were positives, but as far as him as a football player, I didn’t know a ton about him. There were a lot of unknowns. It definitely was positive impression in the spring.”

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  1. Andy

    UK does have a good log jam at QB. Smith, Towles, Whitlow, Philips for the upcoming season. I was impressed with Drew Barkers highlights but did not see any snaps from under center. I remember Neal saying it was good that all the current QB’s were familiar with taking snaps under center for play action passes. I noticed even his texas tech Qb took some snaps under center as well. I wonder if he will make Drew Take snaps under center? Also, Neal has the fastest tempo given all current OC’s, which makes me excited.

  2. Larry Pup

    The QB race at fall camp will be interesting. This is a good problem to have. With Drew coming in, I would say he will redshirt. Can they keep them all is the question?

  3. Ira

    I think Phillips surprised everyone on how well he did. Yes they gave him high completion throws, but he still looked good out there.

    Like Andy, all the QB’s are saying the right things but I can’t see all three of them staying. My .02 cents, and a very uninformed guess at that.

  4. Kokamo Joe

    Every QB that commits to UK is thought to be the one to turn the program around. Kids come in expecting to be the man and of course, not all of them end up playing. If I remember correctly Neil Brown committed to play and signed his LOI at UK. When Hal Mummy came Brown transferred. That is likely to happen to some of the gaggle of QBs now and coming to UK.

    The QB position will shake out. If Whitlow wins out in the fall, look for this kid to be in line his sophomore or junior year. Both Smith and Towles were thought to be the man when they were recruited. If one of them is UK’s primary QB next year, this young man may have a long wait.

  5. Andy

    Just my hunch. So far it goes like this from what I see.
    1 – Whitlow
    2 – Smith
    3 – Towles/ Philip’s

    I think Towles needs a llittle more time to develop as does philips and then you have Dre Barker waiting to compete so eventually someone will transfer.

  6. Love SEC F-Ball

    What is all of this transfer talk? Good programs keep several good QB’s on the roster.
    Coach Brown just said that he prefer’s to have 5 and a minimum of 4.
    Look at A&M – They signed two 4-star QB’s last year. UK fans are not used to prosperity.

    1. larryvaught

      Love that line about prosperity LoveSECF-Ball. Best line of the week, and you are right. No track record with prosperity

  7. Larry Pup

    We are still not used to prosperity……….YET!!!

  8. Rebel4Life

    Neal Brown went to UK in ’98. He transferred after UK got into trouble for recruiting misfits from Memphis under the misguided direction of Claude Bassett and Hal Mumme. He didn’t sign a letter and leave. He left a bad situation, went to UMass and came out better for it.

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