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UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown on what he looks for at various positions

uk footballBy LARRY VAUGHT

New Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown said there is no set number of receivers he’ll play. At Troy, he played more because he had more players with similar skills.

“At Texas Tech, we played a few less,” Brown said. “But over the last five years we have been tops in the country with most guys with receptions. I like to have as many receivers involved as we can.”

Kentucky will go into spring practice with three quarterbacks — Smith, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles — getting an equal opportunity to win the starting job. However, Brown said if a clear No. 1 quarterback does not emerge by the end of spring practice, it is “not that big a deal” to him.

“I think what you want to do in the spring is see if anybody separates himself,” Brown said. “But the summer is a huge deal. Coaches are not allowed to be there with players. That’s where a lot of the quarterback’s leadership is developed. It’s always important to see how the quarterback handles that and manages the summer throwing schedule before they get back for fall practice. We are not able to watch, or even really hear about, what goes on. But you can tell when you get back who has done the work. If the quarterback or quarterbacks have done a good job of leading in the summer, it is real clear when you get back to camp how much they have grown. But it doesn’t hurt you if you don’t have a starter coming out of the spring.”

Brown likes to have versatile running backs in his offense.

“We want all-purpose guys. We will never recruit a running back that we feel cannot pick up a blitz courage-wise. We want guys that are good at running the football, trusting their reads and can also be a factor in the passing game. We like to throw to our backs. If you get a running back involved in the pass game, it makes the defense have to cover all five eligible receivers. But our backs have to have the courage and size to pick up the blit,” Brown said.

The UK offensive coordinator also wants the tight end to be an active part of the passing game, something that has been missing at UK since the graduation of Jacob Tamme four years ago.

“You like a guy that can catch and block equally well, but those are hard to find. There are only three or four in the country every year,” Brown said. “We look for guys with size. You want a big guy first. You want a guy that can catch and run. We feel we can teach them to block if they have courage. We use our tight end quite a big. We stand ours up some and then also attach him (to the line). We’ll use the tight end in underneath routes on third down but will also use him vertically if we have a favorable matchup.”

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22 comments

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  1. Mike Flannery

    I saw that the Spring game is scheduled for April the 13th, when does Spring practice start?

    1. RJ

      Just a guess but I’d say two weeks prior.

  2. Ira

    Am I missing something, thought most if not all of our backs were APB’s. I’m starting to think the coaching staff just doesn’t like the talent level anywhere on this team. Not saying we never had deficiencies, but thought the one place we were in good shape were RB’s.

    1. RJ

      Let’s hope he meant “on a going forward basis” as it relates to recruiting. Looking at the current squad rationally you can see lots of holes that need to be filled and lots of positions where those who occupy those positions have to “man up”. Last year’s squad was, putting it bluntly, ineffective. Coaching can fix a lot of that; motivation, technique, discipline etc. But coaching cannot fix players’ grit, determination and overall ability. Let’s not let our expectations get out of hand for the 2013 season. There’s going to be some ugly games just due to talent, or lack thereof.

      In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say the ugly games next year will be a better milestones for measuring results than the “feel good” wins. If they are not as ugly as the 2012 season, then we’re making progress. That’s not so say that wins are not important. Of course they are and we may actually sneak in a few wins that we are, by all rights, not supposed to get. But those wins will be wonderful surprises whereas the losses against superior competition will show a lot more about this team going forward. If this team learns to leave everything on the field even when they are getting their butts kicked, we can be competitive overall. And that will be very apparent to anyone who watches – especially the coaching staff.

  3. Fan Fan

    UK has a lot more talent than everyone thinks. They will be a top 4 sec east team! Will put money on it

    1. Ira

      FF I agree, I like to think we have more talent than what our season showed last year. I put more on the coaching staff than anything. Two years in a row Joker got out coached by a Coordinator, Pitt and UT. Hopefully this new staff will bring out everyone’s max potential this upcoming season.

      1. Larry Pup

        Bottom line is we need more talent than we have now, especially on the O-Line, at WR, and at runnung back. Brown has much as said so. Brown is just now beginning to evaluate current talent and said he probably will not run exactly what he ran at TT. The same guys are back for UK minus our seniors. Can Clemons and Mobley step up? Is Clemons even healthy? We got Sanders and George back. Can our young WR’s step up? Can they carry the load in this new offense? We will see.

    2. Seymour

      Did I read somewhere that UK had one of, if not the most difficult schedules in the nation next season. If anywhere even close, then don’t get your hopes up. We could have a significantly better team and still not have a good W-L record.

      Let’s see, UF, UGA, SC, Missouri, UT, and Vandy. Just which three will we have a record better than theirs? UT will have some shortcomings and UGA might, slim pickings, especially with our West schedule.

      1. larryvaught

        Seymour, you are right. could be most challenging schedule UK has faced

  4. Shinny

    Larry Pup lets not forget the young man that Saban wanted out of Atlanta. Because of injury he wanted him to delay coming. He was on campus last year and RS so we have yet to see him play! Relax everything will work out for next year and we will go bowling with 7-5 or 8-4 record. However 2014 and 2015 will be outstanding years with more to come. Reason-name me a coaching staff here at Kentucky since Bear and Collier that have been as good!!!

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      Bowling? Have you seen the schedule for next year? I love your enthusiasm, but don’t get your hopes up for a bowl game. Let’s not forget, new staff but same players; for the most part.

    2. Gene T

      I totally agree

  5. Tom R

    Spring practices must be spread out over a about 1 month. Some of our current RBs are not good receivers, some not good blockers, most not elusive like Anthony White or R Little, for example. We do have hard running backs, a couple of power runners I think, and Clemons has potential if he recovers from injury.

    1. Ira

      I believe Clemons recovery is fine. I think the staff tried to rush it last year. But he should be good to go. Sanders is a pretty good back when it’s all said and done. Blocks good runs hard and can catch out of the backfield, George same thing. Mobley just wasn’t used enough to compare, but he had good hands in HS. Plus Justin taylor RS hopefully his knee has had all the time needed to heal properly.

      As far as WR’s we have problems and this why I don’t see some other kids willing to commit that are true play makers ie Gibson, Samples, Timmons, I mean early playing is immediate, no two ways about it.

      We will wave four that have seen playing time. DeMarco Robinson Jr, AJ LeGree SO, Daryll Collins RS SO, and DeMarcus Sweat SO.

      Our TE’s have never been productive except as blockers, maybe that will change in this new offense. We have 8 including Walk-ons, surely someone will pan out as a catching TE.

      We do need help in a lot of different positions

  6. Seymour

    Our RBs have typically been small and quick. Brown wants larger, power type runners. Right about having a couple, but look for future RBs to simply be bigger, and hopefully just as fast.

  7. Bill

    Don’t overlook Reese who has enrolled for the Spring semester. He’s our 4th quarterback. I think the QB competition will be really interesting this Spring.

  8. AndyP

    I’ve got a really good feeling about the Juco Tightend that we signed who’s dad is a pro wrestler. The kid has speed and I bet he’s tough as nails.

  9. Fan Fan

    This is the deal… we had a complex offense with young players in the SEC with one of the hardest schedules in the country. Defense was very young also. Coaching staff may have been good people but not head coaches and effective leaders of men. They play calling was terrible and scheme suspect. All of that changes this year! The offense will be quick and decisive and I think explosive especially if Whitlow at qb. George is a very underrated rb and has 4.3 speed. Whitlow is also a 4.3 guy with a great arm with poise. We will have the fastest backfield in SEC! Last staff didn’t work the players hard and didn’t develop the players. If OL and DL play OK we will go bowling. We have 2 NFL LB’s and OK DB’s. Head coach will have the defense playing with passion! The SC and Georgia game showed our players can compete in this league!

  10. HONDO2

    THIS WILL BE A LONG HAUL–FORGET INSTANT BCS TEAM–IT WILL TAKE 5 YEARS TO BRING THIS TEAM TO THE TOP WITH GREAT COACHING–RECRUITING–TEAM PLAY–

    THE THING TO LOOK FOR IS CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT IN ALL AREAS— FOR 3-4 YEARS–THATS PROGRESS–AND WINNING FB–

    KY IS PLAYING IN THE TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE COUNTRY[IF YOU DOUBT THAT ASK YOURSELF HOW MANY BCS CHAMPIONSHIPS HAS THE SEC WON IN A ROW??? TO GET WHERE WE WANT TO BE WE HAVE TO START DEFEATING THE BAMAS–LSU’S–GATORS–TEXAS A&M–SOUTH CAROLINA–TENNESSEE–MISS ST–VANDY AND ETC–

    IT WON’T BE EASY BUT TEXAS A&m MADE A GRAND ENTRY LAST SEASON AND IT’S TIME FOR KY TO RE-ENTER THE FIGHT–

    HONDO2

    1. Ira

      Hondo2, I never understood why people doubted the Aggies. They always recruited great over the years, just needed the right coach. TX is one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the nation and people were saying AM would need time to adjust to the SEC and I was like what??? Now Everyone has seen Manzel, he may have a tougher row to hoe next season but that isn’t about UK this is.

      We have probably the top 5 toughest schedule this coming year. I expect UK to struggle some. but by year 3 with how this staff can recruit we ought to be competing like everyone thinks we should.

  11. ford

    i hope to see more from our wr. being used. we have several guys that can run the field .

    1. larryvaught

      Ford, I want to see Sweat and Legree get a lot more playing time. Never understood why they did not last year myself

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