A couple of quick notes from a very interesting and informative press conference:
Hartline did not injure ACL but completely tore MCL off of femur. He also has a slight PCL tear and a small cartiledge injury and will be out for 3-4 weeks at the minimum. The PCL and MCL will heal in 3-4 weeks after surgery, but his availability becomes a matter of the cartiledge allowing him to play the rest of the year. They will see if he can play with the cartiledge tear and if he can’t, it will be more surgery and another two weeks of healing. The staff is preparing for the worst case scenario, which is that that Hartline will not be back this season.
– Brooks said they will work both Morgan Newton and Will Fidler this week in practice and will decide later who will get majority of game snaps. The staff will also work with Ryan Mossakowski some too, who will serve as the emergency third quarterback.
– Coach also said that fans can expect a slightly expanded Wildcat package, but Randall Cobb will remain at receiver. He said that Cobb knows his future is at wide receiver and he will not be playing quarterback. Brooks added that they don’t want to overdo it with the formation because, if they become one-dimensional, it loses its effectiveness.
– The staff plans to cut back the playbook some, regardless of who ends up as starter this week. Brooks said they will find out what the quarterback is most comfortable doing and what the staff wants to do. They’ll combine those things to form the gameplan they think will be the most successful.
– When asked what he was looking for out of the quarterback position, Brooks said “decision making, play-making and an understanding of how important keeping the ball is to the team”. He said that, at this point, Fidler should be ahead of everyone else in understanding the offense, but he’s not sure if that’s the case. He added that the biggest diference from high school to college and college to the NFL is understanding reads and protections, which Mike Hartline did very well. Brooks further proved the importance by saying “The Heisman trophy winner made a bad check on a protection and got knocked out of the game”.
– Brooks called the offensive line “the unsung heroes of the season”. Coach cited the points UK has scored on teams that have not allowed those points in other games and said it all starts with the line.
– An interesting quote came toward the end of the press conference when Brooks said this of his 2-3 team: “We’re not that far from where we’d like to be if everyone was healthy”. He cited the injuries that have plagued them and said that, if not for being without three starters entering the SC game and leaving with four out, as well as being a man down for half the Bama game, they’ve played pretty well. He said it’s tough to win without your quarterback and two starting corners.
– On injuries: Brooks said Micah Johnson has a swollen ankle and his hip flexor injury is still lingering, but he should be fine. However, it was more bad news at the corner position as Coach said to expect Trevard Lindley to be out this week and next week. His ankle is still very swollen and he can’t get up on his toes on the injured leg. He said that they will work with Paul Warford on Wednesday to see if he can go, but it’s also doubtful.
– Brooks praise the pass rush against South Carolina and called Corey Peters “one of the most underrated players” that he’s had on defense. He also announced that Taylor Wyndham will start over DeQuin Evans at right end.
– On Auburn’s running backs: They are the best running backs UK has faced all year. He called them “physical and fast”.