A few very quick thoughts after a day on the football tip:
— Today was UK’s open football practice for the media and I found it to be a very interesting spectacle to behold. From the get go, the thing that most stands out to the onlooker is the intensity and tempo from start to finish. In previous years, coaches tried to keep the activities moving, but I have never seen anything like this. From the opening moment, everyone is constant energy and the rapid fire methods keep all players on their toes. Whenever the offense or defense engages in full team drills, they try to get the plays off as rapidly as possible, moving players in and out so that there are no down times. I counted an average period of only 10-12 seconds between the finish of one play and the start of another. That tempo, which is almost sure to be a part of how the team plays this fall, was truly impressive to watch.
— Equally as impressive was the continued high level energy of this young coaching staff. When you see the group together, it is shocking just how young they are collectively, but their intensity and energy is part of what makes the practice tick. Literally at every position, a coach exists who is in a player’s face and making him aware of what he is doing wrong, all the while doing it with verve and passion. I was motivated to put on some pads and play, and I dont like even getting hit. I cant imagine how refreshing it is for the boys in blue and white.
— The new players were a sight, especially Zadarius Smith, who looks like an absolute man child. When you hear coaches talk about “SEC athletes”, they are talking about people like Zadarius. Even though he has only been on campus for a semester, he sticks out more than any player on the team as a physical specimen. Mark Stoops said afterwards (in our post practice interview, which you can hear on the podcast below) that he is the most fundamentally sound Defensive Lineman, even though he comes from the JUCO ranks. I expect him to have a BIG impact right away and be a difference maker from moment one.
— With all of that positivity, it is clear that there are some serious holes on the team that will have to be filled. The biggest of those is the WR position, where we not only saw a lot of dropped balls today, but also the need for a talent infusion as well. While there are some capable guys, there aren’t enough of them (Neal Brown says they need 7-8) and I suspect that some of the new guys coming in (Javess Blue, Ryan Timmons, etc) can expect to see immediate playing time. There seemed to be some improvement on defense and I was very impressed with Max Smith’s velocity and accuracy. But much work needs to be done.
— In other news, I didn’t realize the good folks of Laurel County were so anti-math. It can be quite disruptive:
A lot of moving parts right now…you have the Women’s team playing in the Regional in Bridgeport, Connecticut (where Team KSR…me, Drew, Hayley Minogue and Wilder Treadway are driving in an all-night trip after the Mr and Miss Basketball ceremonies on Friday night.), the Andrew Wiggins saga and the creation of the roster for next season. Dominique Hawkins’ coach says he will know about a scholarship hopefully by Friday, which tells me that we might hear some roster rumblings in the next couple of days. Stay tuned….