LEXINGTON — Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown is only a few weeks away from not only having to pick a starting quarterback, but also put all the pieces together in UK’s offense.
Recently he offered these insights into a variety of matters.
Question: Where do you play freshman Stanley “Boom” Williams, a four-star recruit from Georgia?
Brown: “We’re calling him Stanley because he hasn’t made any plays for Kentucky yet. When he makes plays in Kentucky, we’ll start referring to him as Boom. I had a conversation with him about that. He’s a guy that has a lot of talent. He’s legitimately fast. The biggest thing is the transition for him. In Georgia, the high school football’s a bit different, and all the private schools are separate. He played at a lower level, so when you watch his highlights, they’re really impressive.
“He’s really fast, but he’s just taking off and running as fast as he can to the sideline and outrunning a lot of guys. That’s going to be a transition. I am excited about him because he does give us a speed element that we don’t have. We have some really good running backs, but we don’t necessarily have anyone that fast. There’s going to be a learning curve for him, but I am excited about his skill set.”
Question: Can you explain the offensive terminology of X, Y, Z, H and slot receiver … who’s where and why?
Brown: “The X and Z are outside receivers. The X plays predominately on the left and the Z plays predominately on the right. The Y is a bigger, inside receiver playing in the slot. He is a tight end type. The H is a slot receiver that is more shifty.”
Question: Will that you have the quarterback under center more this season since you have powerful running backs to run play-action passes?
Brown: “That is something that is more game plan oriented. We did it last year in the Tennessee game and had some success. We like to do it in our hurry-up situation and get under center. A couple of quarterbacks feel more comfortable than others do. Reese Phillips did it in high school, so he felt comfortable and why we did it in the spring with him.”
Question: Can all three of the potential starting quarterbacks — Reese Phillips, Patrick Towles, Drew Barker — make the throws necessary to move the chains and stretch the field? 2. Who in your opinion of the three potential quarterbacks has the best overall understanding of your offense?
Brown: “I think they are all very similar.Towles and Reese have been in the meetings for a year longer. They have had a full spring and full fall being in the meetings and are a full year ahead of Drew, so they may be a little ahead as far as understanding. But Drew has done a good job of working and picking up things fast.”
Question: Which quarterback candidate is able to run the ball most effectively on any type of passing down?
Brown: “They are really about equal. None of them are what I would call running quarterbacks in the fact that you are not going to call a running play for them. But I think all three of them are athletic enough to be a factor when plays break down.”
Question: Does the fast tempo of your offense to put more pressure on the defense when you go three plays and out?
Brown: “You have to be smart. That just comes from if you are struggling, you can’t play as fast. The No. 1 thing you have to do if you are going to play fast is get first downs. If you are not getting first downs, you can’t play fast because you can’t leave your defense out to dry.”
Question: What, if anything, do you plan to do differently this year and what can fans realistically expect from the offense?
Brown: “I think we are going to be better around the quarterbacks. I?know we will. We will be better at offensive line, running backs, receiver. That will help them. I?am not naive enough to think we are not going out there and have some ups and downs. Any time you play an inexperienced quarterback you are going to have some ups and downs. I think we are more prepared this year to overcome some mistakes by the quarterback because we are better around him.”
Question: Since the basic premise for any football team is the offensive line, do you see improvements this year and coming years with some seemingly better recruits as the basis for future success?
Brown: “Yes, I think the biggest thing we have to do is continue to do a good job recruiting tackles. Offensive linemen and defensive linemen are the hardest things to find when you are recruiting because so much of offensive linemen are unfinished products. They are going to grow, gain weight, get stronger. It takes them a little big longer to grow into their bodies, so it is always the hardest position to identify offensively so you have to recruit a higher number. I?feel good about what we are done. We are a year away from getting our numbers right on the offensive line, but I?do feel better about our depth. Our lack of experience behind our starters at tackle is a concern obviously, but I?feel like interior-wise we have more depth and guys that can come in and play.”
Question: Will offensive line redshirts help this year?
Brown: “We need them to. I think Ramsey Myers is a a guy that can step in and he has to solidify that starting spot. He did a good job in the spring and we are excited about him. Nick Haynes is another guy that had a really good spring game that we think has a chance (to help). Kyle Meadows, we need him to continue to come and be a factor, too. Another kid, too, is Cole Moser, who walked on. He could be a factor and will definitely be down the road but he could be this year, too.”
Question: Do you ever offer insight to our defensive coaches?
Brown: “Yes, but not necessarily personnel-wise. We will talk about who is doing a good job on scout team and stuff, but we always talk about what gives you problems. What are other teams doing to you that gives you problems. We always exchange ideas that way. Or if we are keying anything we are doing or giving that away to the defense or if they are giving away their coverage or blitz, we will talk about those.”
Question: What advice would you give to high school coaches to help athletes get better?
Brown: “That’s a good question. What I think is you have to make the game fun. You have to keep, especially the younger kids in your program, you have to keep them involved and enthused. I think football is a more demanding game than a lot of other sports just from a physical standpoint, so you have to make it fun for guys to come in during preseason camp when things get meticulous, during Monday or Tuesday practice during middle of the season, you have to keep it fun and keep those young kids involved to keep them coming back.”
Question: Who are two or three players in the 2014 recruiting class that fans might not know lot about now but could by end of season?
Brown: “I think (receiver) Garrett Johnson. He is a guy we think can have a really good year. Charles Walker is a kid that we got from Louisville St. X who I?thought was as good a high school football player as there was in the state last year. He came as preferred walk-on and we are really excited about him. Then on defense, a guy that may not have gotten the amount of publicity is A.J. Stamps, a kid that came in at mid-year as a transfer defensive back. He had a good spring and could have a really good year for us.”