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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh was an all-Southeastern Conference defensive tackle at Auburn where he started 44 of 48 games and had 291 tackles and three times made the all-SEC team. He played with the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, but spent most of his pro career in the XFL with the Birmingham Bolts and in arena football with the Georgia Force and Birmingham Steel Dogs.
Brumbaugh was also a member of LSU’s staff during its national championship in 2007 and his most recent BCS stop was a two-year stint at Syracuse University, where he coached the defensive tackles in 2011 and the defensive line in 2010. He coached last year at East Mississippi Community College and helped the team to a top 10 national ranking and 8-2 record.
Brumbaugh shared his thoughts on UK’s defensive front after a recent practice.
Question: How do you feel depth is developing on the defensive front?
Brumbaugh: “Right now we have some guys behind the inside guys (Mister) Cobble and Donte (Rumph) that we are trying to work in there. Mike Douglas and Tristian Johnson have been doing some things well and getting better. That’s what we are trying to do. We are trying to build those second-team guys to get in there and do things.”
Question: How are freshman Jacob Hyde and redshirt freshman Patrick Graffree doing at tackle?
Brumbaugh: “They are really coming along. I have been pleasantly surprised by both of them. Experience is the key to success. I am just trying to put them in good situations. They have been picking it up. They just need more reps.”
Question: Has it helped freshman Jason Hatcher get more reps at end with junior college transfer Za’Darius Smith being out with an ankle injury?
Brumbaugh: “We knew that we were going to bring him along fast, so I don’t think Za’Darius going down or not being here really changed that. We knew we wanted to get him in there because he has some ability. He is strong for his size and has the ability to come off the edge. He does some good things with just having a quick twitch off the edge to give us a pass rusher.”
Question: Has it been frustrating not to have Smith on the field?
Brumbaugh: “No. I know what he can do. We want to make sure he is healthy. If you put them out there too fast and they are not healthy, it can hurt us.”
Question: Would it be tougher if you had not coached him in junior college?
Brumbaugh: “Yeah, it would be. I had him all last year and all spring. I know what he can do and what his strengths and weaknesses are. When he comes back, we will be able to put him in there and work with him.”
Question: What will we see when he is able to play and go full speed?
Brumbaugh: “He was still working around these guys when he got here in the spring and learning how to do things. Now that he is at that point, I think he will go back to what he was, that guy who can really make plays. We need him back and being an impact defensive end for us.”
Question: Have you had anyone along the front emerge as a leader?
Brumbaugh: “I think a couple of guys. I don’t think I have one guy that I can just say he is the dominant leader in the pack. I have a lot of guys that are right there, but no guy that is just that leader. I tell you, I have been surprised and happy with them and their attitudes. They want to work and want to get better.”