Neal Brown discusses offense

“Getting these pups ready to go. We had a good practice today. Gave them some time off. Guys got some good energy. School’s starting tomorrow. I think we’re in a good place. I think we’re in a good place. Simple game plan. Go out and try to play fast, execute. I’m excited to see how some of these guys – especially the guys that are going to make their first showing in Commonwealth, how they’re going to perform.”

On if his ideal tempo is 100 mph, how fast UK could go Week 1 last year and how fast Week 1 now: “I’m trying to forget all of it, man. You keep asking. I’m trying to forget. (Grinning) We did not play with very good tempo at Western. We tried to early and we just didn’t do a very good job of it at all. We’ll pick our spots in this game. We’ll pick our spots. I want to make sure that we’re not playing so fast that we’re hurting ourselves, you know? But we’re in a position now, going into our second fall, that we’re able to play really fast when we need to. And there’s going to be some times in this game where we’ll play at a really quick pace – faster than we ever executed last year.”

On Towles saying even as UK’s defense is used to it, the pace wears them down late in practices: “It does. It does. It showed in our first big scrimmage we had. I think Coach Stoops talked to y’all about it: We were able to get some big plays toward the second half. And that’s one of the reasons why you do tempo. Even today, we had some nice plays in the team (period). They (defense) had some negative plays against us, too – I don’t want to make like it was one-sided – but we had some big plays where we were trying to play at a good tempo, where we had success.”

On Jojo Kemp playing without bone spurs he had late last year: “He’s a lot better, and here’s the biggest difference: OK, if you go back and you watch him last year after the Louisville game, he really had to use two feet to make a cut. So if he was moving left and he wanted to make a dynamic cut, he had to chop-chop. Now, with two healthy feet, he’s able to put one foot in the ground and change direction. That’s the biggest difference.”

On having to call plays around the injury: “Well, here’s what we did: Inside zone was one of our main plays last year. So the inside zone, you take the ball, you go attack where the double-team is, and then you’ve got to make that single-foot cut – and he just wasn’t able to do it. So we did things where we could get him outside, where he could just run and he didn’t have to make that dynamic, one-foot cut and change directions. So, yes. I guess  that’s a long answer for yes.”

On whether Jordan Swindle made the switch (for this week) to left tackle easily: “Yeah, we’ve been practicing him. He’s got a bunch of reps. He’s always been our backup left tackle, so even last fall, we always did that. He got reps there. In the spring he got reps there. And then in fall camp, we’ve gotten him several reps there. And he’ll get all left-tackle reps this week.”

On getting QB Patrick Towles off to a fast start: “Yeah, I think it’s important to get Patrick and everybody. Y’all looked at our depth chart. We’ve got a bunch of young guys in that two-deep, especially at the skill positions. So I think we’ve got to be simple. It’s important to get Patrick off to a good start, but it’s also important to get Kyle Meadows off to a good start. It’s also important to get Stanley, when he gets in the game, off to a good start. All those freshmen wideouts that are going to play. So I think you’ve got to not only take Patrick into (account), but you’ve got to take everybody.”

On how far in advance he knew they wouldn’t have LT Darrian Miller for the opener: “I’m not sure. I’m not sure exactly. I knew – the game plan that I put in during the summer, that I got in my head and put down on paper, we tweaked a little bit depending on what we were good at and what we weren’t as good at during fall camp. But we started practicing it toward the end of last week. And I knew by then. We didn’t change anything. I’ve got faith in Swindle at left tackle and Kyle Meadows has gotten a lot of reps. So I feel comfortable. I stayed with it. I didn’t know when I built (the game plan) that he wasn’t going to play, but I stayed with most of it, because I’ve got confidence in those guys.”

On if you have to pay special attention to a young quarterback starting for the first time to make sure he doesn’t let nerves get to him: “Well, I think it’s understood that he’s going to be nervous. That’s just part of it. You just go out and play through it. You try to talk to him a little bit, but the good thing is he’s played a little bit. This is going to be the first time I guess he’s truly been the man, but it is what it is. He’s going to be nervous. If he was starting for his fourth straight year he’d be nervous game one two. You assume that, so you take that into the equation your opening few plays. You know he’s going to be juiced up.”

On if the offense looks different with Javess Blue out there: “Yeah, that helps. It helps. Yeah, it does. He’s a really good player. He’s really dynamic. He’s got fresh legs right now, so he looks really good. We’ve got to be careful with him early in the season because he doesn’t have all the conditioning that the other guys have. I think he’ll probably be in that 30 to 35 play range, where in a normal he might be closer to 50.”

On how much input Towles has in the offensive game plan: “Any quarterback that’s going to start for us — I always go through, he can trump me. If he doesn’t like a play, we’ll take it out. There’s no sense — if we’ve got any pass play that he doesn’t feel comfortable with or he doesn’t see, I just ask him. Like today we met a little bit earlier, and I said, ‘Hey, look up here on my board. This is our game plan. What do you don’t like?’ If he says, ‘I don’t like that, I don’t feel comfortable with it,’ I say, ‘OK, let’s take it out.’ There’s no sense in repping — if he doesn’t have confidence in it, let’s get it out.”

On if he is more able to run the four wide receiver sets even without three scholarship receivers out this week: “Yeah, we can. We can. We’re down some guys, but we’ve got more depth. It’s young depth, but we’ve got more depth. It’s young depth, but we’ve got more depth. And you will, you’ll see some four receiver sets. I don’t know how much, just because some of the guys that are just coming back, their conditioning level, but you will see those for sure.”

On if you factor Stanley “Boom” Williams in in those situations since you can split him out wide: “We can. Yeah, probably won’t do that early. We’re just starting to introduce some of that stuff as he gets more comfortable with the true running back. I think you’ve got to be careful with those freshmen, putting too much on them. So will he be a guy later in his career, even maybe later this year, that we can put out in the slot and things? Yes, for sure. Right now, I think he’s got to get all the running back stuff down.”

On Stoops saying he might go crazy if he had as many young guys playing on defense as the offense has and how he deals with it: “Yeah, I’ve got a lot more gray hairs. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got two girls or because all these young guys. This is basically year number two of it. It is what it is. It’s — deal with it and make the most of it. The one thing is they have good energy. We don’t lack energy coming out for practice. We don’t lack energy going into games. So that part of it’s fun. The teaching aspect of it is fun, because you’re really painting from a blank canvas a lot. But there are some frustrating times, no doubt about it.”

On if he thinks about how valuable those guys will be down the road with experience on the bad days: “Oh yeah. There’s some times when you look ahead. There’s no question. But at least we have some guys with experience this year. It’s encouraging we’ve got Demarco (Robinson) back. He’s played some football here. Ryan Timmons, Javess Blue, those guys will make plays. Now all their backups are true freshmen. You’ve got to take in — I know going in we’re going to make some mistakes. Our philosophy really for the last week and a half or so has been next play. I got to preach that to myself more than them, really. Next play, this is the next play, let’s go.”

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
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