Neal Brown discusses day two

NEAL BROWN
On second day of camp: “Good second day. Really, really good energy for coming out and going early in the morning because of class conflicts. I thought we were nervous Day 1, especially the new guys, the freshmen, and it showed. We dropped some passes. But we caught the ball really well today. I don’t anticipate that being an issue at all, like it was at times last year. During team period, we may have had one drop. I don’t anticipate that being a problem going forward. Really, really excited about some of the young freshmen wideouts. They’re catching on quicker. The new rules in the summer obviously helped us. The freshman running backs had good days today; the redshirt O-linemen have been real impressive and made a big jump since last spring. So overall, two productive days, but we are playing flag football. Tomorrow the truth will be shown.”

On whether he had a “not again” reaction to dropped balls Day 1: “No, not really, because that’s – if you look back at it, it’s human nature. And obviously the balls are really wet because it’s dewy outside and it was pretty humid yesterday morning. I’m not making excuses for them, but I wasn’t overly surprised and really wasn’t worried about it.”

On throwing the quarterbacks in the fire the first week: “Just putting them under a lot of pressure, and it’s more talk than anything. The defenses kind of installs how they’re going to install, so we’re seeing the pressure packages at kind of a normal rate, but really I’m keeping track of every throw they make; I’m talking about it, talking about situational football a lot, probably coaching them harder and being more intense with them early in camp than I normally am. So that’s some of the type of things I’m doing.”

On where QB Max Smith is health-wise: “I don’t really want to get into a whole lot of injuries, so I’m going to avoid most of those questions, I’ll just tell you right now. But he’s getting better. He’s getting better. I think it’s going to be a little bit of a process to get him back to full speed.”

On if both freshmen running backs can play: “I think it’s probably too early. There so much different. They’re so different. You’ve got Mikel (Horton) who’s a bigger back, who’s agile but bigger. Stanley (Williams) is a make-you-miss guy that’s got really good speed. So, I’m not ready to put them right in the mix right now, but they are learning. I’m pleased at their progress, but I think it’s too early to tell who’s going to be in the mix.”

On which freshmen wide receivers stood out: “Dorian Baker and Blake Bone, the two big kids. We need those guys. We need length. I talked about it in detail last year: we need some guys with some size. I’ve been impressed with those guys. Dorian probably had a better day one than day two, but excited about both those.”

On talking about Garrett Johnson’s potential before camp and if Johnson has done anything to change his mind that he will play early: “I think he will. I think he will. He’s been really well coached. His body is in a position. We need help in those slot areas.”

On what the young receivers need to work on: “I think it comes down to making plays, knowing what to do. They’ve also got to be able to block on the perimeter.”

On how Jojo Kemp looks now that he’s fully healthy: “Jojo had a really good day today. Braylon Heard really stood out day one. Both those guys, they’re just ahead of the younger kids just in general, just because they’ve got a much better feel for the offense, they’ve got more experience. Jojo from a maturity standpoint has just grown a lot, and he’s healthy. He can make a one-foot cut, where after the Louisville game last year he wasn’t really capable of that.”

On why he’s confident drops won’t be a problem: “Well, because we caught the ball better in the spring, and we’ve got guys that are natural catchers. Now we’ve been going through this process since really January of 13. So, you’re talking 20 months where a daily routine they catch balls. Whether it’s — we do a lot of it with tennis balls, we had an emphasis on it in the spring, we had an emphasis on it this fall during camp. I just don’t foresee it being a problem.”

On if it’s especially important in this offense for players to have to think less: “Well, it is, because of your tempo. When you’re trying to play fast — and we weren’t capable of playing as fast as we would like last year, because guys were thinking. They’d have to think about alignments and assignments. Now it’s more natural. They’re used to getting signals. They’re used to getting lined up fast, used to operating fast. And again, where we’re able to meet with those freshmen in the summer, we’re able to meet with them in the classroom and then go out, and older guys, now they had a working knowledge. Last summer, we had nobody with any working knowledge, other than what they learned in the 15 practices in the spring. And then we went right into fall camp, and a lot of those guys weren’t even in spring practice. So now those new freshmen were in the classroom, learned what to do, then the older guys can kind of walk them through and teach them what to do during the summer.”

On Steven Borden being an all-purpose guy early and if he’s settled into a spot this year: “Yeah, he’s gonna play our tight end position, and we’ll line him up in the slot with his hand down and in the backfield. He’s a versatile guy. He’s still gonna be all over. I think he’s probably a little bit better with his hand in the ground and in the backfield than he is split out, but he runs well enough where we can put him out there also.

On if he’s worried that Alex Montgomery’s setback might not allow him to be out there this season: “I’m worried anytime somebody’s not out there. But I’ll leave it to the training room, really.”

On simplifying the offensive communication: “We’ve gone to a new system, all right? It’s similar to what we’ve done, but we’ve really tried to be as much one word and one syllable as possible with one signal.”

On if having more numbers at wide receiver will change how they handle tight ends: “No, no. I’ll tell you what the numbers at wideout allow us to do is allow us to practice much more efficiently. Let’s talk about — even like a true freshman walk-on, David Bouvier from Lexington Catholic. I mean, he can come out, he’s a really good — now he needs a redshirt to get bigger, but he can go out and run skelly, knows how to run routes because he’s been well coached in high school. We got Charles Walker, who could potentially be a factor. Not only do we add scholarship guys, but we also got some quality walk-ons. Ryan Kendall’s another.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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