By LARRY VAUGHT
Raymond Sanders, Kentucky’s most experienced running back, likes the opportunities he will get in new offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s system this season.
“I am going to be able to have more explosive plays, more longer runs. I will get the ball in space more, so I will be able to make a lot more guys miss and seal some blocks,” said Sanders. “It is going to be a fun year. I am looking to have big games either running or receiving. He uses backs in different ways. He wants to get us in space and he has ways of moving us around and creating mismatches and that’s what we want for an advantage to make big plays.
“Expectations are really high. Everyone wants to win every game, but you have to take it one game at a time and just try to be successful each game. That has been everything we have been preaching this summer and how you can’t look ahead or past anyone. We just want to improve from last year and make this year a lot, lot better.”
Kentucky went only 2-10 last season and coach Joker Phillips and his staff were fired after three non-winning seasons. Sanders says the players are ready for what lies ahead with coach Mark Stoops and his staff.,
“I think once we got that little break (after the season) everyone was ready for whatever was happening. We were ready for the (coaching) change. We knew what was coming. It was a tough season, but we can’t dwell on that. We have to let that go and use this positive energy to move forward,” Sanders said. “You were a little bit nervous over the new coach, but you know you have no control over that. There is no input from you. Nothing from the players. We were just hoping he (UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart) would pick a good guy. As players we just wanted a good coach and then we made sure we bought into the system and not let the process hinder us. A lot of guys have gotten stronger and faster. This program needs the strength, power and speed you will see now.
“The fans are back, too. When you walk down the Cat Walk and see lines and lines of people at the spring game, it was like, ‘Wow.’ You start thinking about the season and how the fans will be and how they can get excited. It gets you excited to know they were supporting you again because the last few games (last season) there were not 50,000 there. We are excited to prove to them we can win.
“I never thought about a spring game crowd like that. To see that just shows they wanted to be there, they want to support us and it is up to us to keep them there. I think they should expect us to win. No fans should expect their team to lose. They should be proud of their team and it is up to us to do the best we can. We want them to keep cheering us on and we are going to keep working to give them a fun season.”