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Podcast for Larry Vaught’s Blue Zoom Radio Show for Nov. 26, 2013, with Larry Vaught and co-host David Hopewell, and former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Question: What should be the message to Kentucky football fans about this program?
Jacob Tamme: “I think the message is that the program is improving right now and these players need you to be excited, optimistic and realistic. As a player going through a tough season, these guys want the fans to stick with them. This year’s team certainly hasn’t dropped their level of effort during a tough season, and if anything they have showed a lot of resilience battling back on the road in some tough games. Fans should appreciate that and support a team willing to fight like that. Going forward, I think the message is — get to Commonwealth Stadium and be loud and create an atmosphere that helps our Cats win games!
“I can tell you from experience that when our fan base buys in 100 percent, it is felt by everyone inside the program — from the talk around campus, to the Cat Walk, to the noise level when the Cats are on defense, you can ‘feel’ the support when our fan base really buys in to UK football and puts their heart in it. So I encourage the fans to stick with this staff and group of players, and stay the course with great support as they work to improve the program to a championship-level contender.”
Anthony White: “My message to the fan base would be to support the guys and get behind them through the rough and success. because although the past few years have not been successful, change is going to come and it can be facilitated by warm positive support from the beginning, not when the winning commences. the same way UK basketball teams come in with support and high expectations, lets lend that same support to UK football to finish off 2013 and into 2014 if that is the type of success we desire. Because we are now bringing in the guys to raise the bar and BBN is just fan to pull a team through when doubt starts surface. Change is no doubt is upon us lets be the force not the obstacle to success.
Freddie Maggard: “Be patient. Give this staff a chance. Support this team, everything on social media, in person, and stadium attendance will be used for or against UK in recruiting. Focus on the future.
Derek Abney: “Patience and support. Being a competitor, I have little patience sometimes but, as fans, we really need to be patient. We also need to support the staff and players. They have all the tools and we need to realize this season is very difficult (arguably the toughest in college football) and it’s the first year in rebuilding.”
Murray: “Hang on…..WE WILL WIN!”
Dave Hopewell: “Hang tight and be supportive. Let’s all come on out and show our support for these guys and support them now and in the future when we really are competing for SEC games week in and week out. It will send a big message to our recruits but it will also send a big message to our UK administration that a great football team is what we want and expect.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Question: What are your feelings about UK’s recruiting efforts and how will this 2014 class impact next season?
Jacob Tamme: “I think the recruiting efforts have been really mind blowing the way they are putting this class together and I think the impact should be felt in the next two-three years. I think the 2014 class will help next season and I expect some of those guys to be game-altering type players but again, let’s not expect every single freshman to come in and be a world-beater next year.”
Dave Hopewell: “We’ve got to hang on to these next guy’s coming in. That’s what the future is about. We’ve got to convince them that if they come here we’ll be competing for an SEC Championship one day and that we’ll help them develop here too get to the next level.”
Freddie Maggard: “I think its a positive. I believe in coach Brown’s saying, ‘come be a hero.’ Realistically, this team is two more recruiting classes short of a SEC roster. Recruiting is exceeding expectation. Instant playing time across the field, excited coaching staff, pledged facilities improvement.”
Andy Murray: “Our recruiting efforts are great, but I think our player development is even better. As I mentioned, this team of current redshirts and players will look totally different this time next year. I think this will be a great destination for the Midwest kids that want to play in the SEC. Again, we just need patience and time.”
Derek Abney: “This has to be the brightest spot of the program this far. And, fortunately, it’s one of the most important; talent. I’ve been so very impressed with what he’s done, and in the time frame to do it. The future looks bright and I have to keep reminding myself to be patient. By the way, Timmons is going to be a star.
White: “I feel UK’s 2014 class will provide UK with much need depth and competition at key positions if not upgrades. I think the 2014 class’ desire to win and be successful will lift not only the caliber of play, but also the mindset about winning, because most of those guys only know success and will likely not accept losing or losing efforts be it game, practice, or publicly.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Question: What would be your major concern about the Kentucky football program right now?
Jacob Tamme: “Really my biggest concern is I get tired of people becoming negative on a coach or staff so quickly. I don’t think it is happening right now, but I can see the expectation level rising dramatically next year because of this recruiting class. Let’s keep in mind the reality is that all of these good recruits are still going to be freshman next year playing in the SEC East. I want to win as quick as anybody but I think if the team loses some tight games next season we can’t have the fan base going up in arms because the expectation level has changed so dramatically from year one to year two. I think improvement over the next year should definitely be expected, but to ask this staff and team to win eight, nine, 10 games and compete for a championship — that is probably going to take a couple of years at a minimum. I hope they prove me wrong!”
Freddie Maggard: “Obvious, the quarterback play. Jalen Whitlow is on the verge of breaking out if he can stay healthy. Without him, the offense has not been able to threaten defenses. I’d never criticize a player and won’t so let’s say passing game. I’m talking offensive unit as a whole. Defenses are pressing UK’s offense, this is unheard of in the Air Raid offense but at most times, they’re tempting UK to throw the ball downfield. With limited play at quarterback, coach (Neal) Brown is extremely limited on what he can call, and when he can call it.
Anthony White: “My major concern about the program at this very moment is that they have to be prepared to capitalize on the success that the football program is expecting. I hope the fan base the administration and the athletic department is prepared to handle and market the success, if the football program happens to achieve what they expect. and not give them token publicity and coverage do to success being a surprise. I know they talk about having a plan, I hope sufficient and effective when/if we reach big time success.”
Derek Abney: “My major concern would be convincing the players it really is one play, one quarter, and one game at a time; relaying to them that other teams will have their runs but we have stay in the game mentally and with confidence. It can be difficult changing that mentality if a team hasn’t had a lot of winning seasons recently. Fortunately, all indications are Stoops has the character/integrity to convince them of this.”
Andy Murray: “Is that our fan base needs to stick with these guys and believe in what they are doing.”
Dave Hopewell: “Holding our recruiting classes together. Getting the players in here to change the culture and the future of the program and then keeping it at that level for years to come and not just be a flash in the pan for two-three years.”
Jacob Tamme had “very realistic expectations” about Mark Stoops’ first year as Kentucky’s head coach and despite UK’s 2-7 record going into Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt, Tamme says he likes what he has seen.
“If anything I’m even more optimistic because of the way our young guys are playing and the fight that the team as a whole is showing — Mississippi State and South Carolina games being prime examples,” said Tamme, a former UK All-American tight end and current tight end with the Denver Broncos. “I am encouraged, not by the won-lost record, but by a lot of the little things I am seeing.”
Former UK players Derek Abney, Freddie Maggard, David Hopewell, Andy Murray and Anthony White joined Tamme in offering their analysis on this Stoops’ first year and the UK program.
Question: What has impressed you the most about Stoops and his staff?
Tamme: “Their ability to sell the vision they have for the program. I think they have sold the current guys on it and I think they’ve done an absolutely incredible job putting together this 2014 class. I’m also impressed with the improvement as this season has progressed. I was really disappointed in the way we played as a whole, but especially on defense versus Western Kentucky. It just felt like there was something missing in our attitude and approach. Every play WKU ran they ‘finished the play forward’ – going toward their end zone … 2-3-4 extra yards at the end of plays. But I have been amazed at the improvement I’ve seen up to this point in the season and was very impressed by our defense at Mississippi State and against Alabama State. The mindset of our defense seems to have improved a lot over the course of the season, which is impressive especially considering we’ve been losing. They are improving, and they keep getting up off the mat and bringing it, and that’s what you want to see on defense.”
Abney: “His ability to keep players accountable and committed all four quarters. There are no excuses with Mark Stoops and you, and the players, know where he stands.
Murray: “My first take on this staff is that they are very organized and are sticking to their plan. They know the task and are taking all the right steps in recruiting and fundamentals.”
Hopewell: “Their continued resolve. Stoops won’t throw his players under the bus even though there are some names that would pop up regularly I bet. I like his feistiness on the field and I think his players are gradually starting to pick that up. Thats still part of the problem too, these players are picking things up “gradually”.
Maggard: “His fire, his demanding that players cannot ‘hide’, accountability and realistic expectations. He’s improved the defense dramatically, and is consistent quarterback play away from being a .500 team. Defensively is most noticeable improvement and that has a great deal to do with senior middle linebacker Avery Williamson. Offensively, unfortunately the quarterback play has not been close to what is needs to be. That would slow down any offense, any coordinator.”
White: “I’m extremely impressed how coach Stoops is able to bring in top notch talent and recruits, and not only have them commit to play at UK but also buy in to the belief that they can win big here in Lexington at UK.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Despite Kentucky’s 1-6 record going into Saturday night’s game against Alabama State, five former Wildcats all can see progress being made under first-year coach Mark Stoops.
“This coaching staff has focused on improvement and maximized effort with current roster,” former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard said. “Can you imagine the result if the true freshmen and junior college transfers weren’t playing? I feel even more confident in Mr. (Mitch) Barnhart’s hire today than last winter. Sure, results haven’t been what fans and myself would like to see, but it’s been brought to light just how deficient the roster.”
Maggard’s former teammate, Andy Murray, feels the same.
“I feel even better about our program. Coach and his staff know what they are doing and have made great in-game adjustments. I think it is very evident that we have a long way to go from a talent standpoint and believe we will look totally different next season and remarkably different in year three,” Murray said. “Our team is well conditioned and fundamentally sound.”
David Hopewell started on UK’s only Southeastern Conference championship team in 1977. He says “we all hate losing” but knows progress is being made.
“I just wished we started better. The excitement of Aug 1. has long since passed but this is a marathon, not a race. It takes longer to make progress in this game just for the sheer numbers involved. I still feel good about this coaching staff.”
Former All-American receiver Derek Abney anticipated a “difficult season” for Stoops.
“I’m slightly disappointed we couldn’t sneak in a quality win thus far. I was hoping for better quarterback play since Maxwell Smith had a good season before getting hurt and Jalen Whitlow was coming around and better wide receiver play,” Abney said. “Besides the lack of turnovers, I’ve been happy with the defense, especially during second halves.
“I was hoping for more contribution from special teams. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient because I know the potential is there to have a really good program, especially since we’ll have two great recruiting classes.”
Former running back Anthony White agrees.
“I feel that the UK program has the will to win as opposed to when the season began, I assumed the team would have a different coach, but still the same nonchalant attitude about winning or losing. Now they seem to really want to win no matter the score,” White said.
Note: Larry posted a story recently about Jefferson LeDonne, detailing the journey he’s made from being abandoned as an infant to Danville, Ky. You can read that earlier story here http://vaughtsviews.com/9-year-old-runners-story-should-be-inspriration-for-us-all/
Podcast for Larry Vaught’s Blue Zoom Radio Show for Aug. 22, 2013. Co-host David Hopewell, and guests former UK great Freddie Maggard and entertainer Lee Cruse.