It took Mark Stoops less than 2 minutes to drop the “D” word after his first Fall practice yesterday, but don’t be discouraged just yet. After undergoing some growing pains on Day 1, Neal Brown was much happier with his wide receivers on Day 2, “I thought we were nervous Day 1, especially the new guys, and it showed, we dropped some passes. I don’t anticipate that being an issue at all like it was at times last year.”
Brown didn’t want to make excuses for a rough Day 1, but his guys responded well, only dropping maybe one pass during the team period. Brown believes summer work, coupled with a simpler system, has put the receivers miles ahead of where they were last year.
“Last year they had 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 were able to meet with those freshmen during the summer in the classroom and then go out and work with the older guys. Now they have a working knowledge going into camp. Last summer we had nobody with a working knowledge, outside of the 15 practices in Spring, and a lot of those guys weren’t there in the Spring”
Brown also worked this summer to change the way they make calls. By simplifying the system to one syllable or word, the new guys don’t have to think as much when they’re on the field, helping them play at a higher tempo.
Javess Blue has already noticed the difference in tempo at practice. After Coach Brown talked to them individually about simplifying the system, they got together as a group to perfect the practice before Fall camp. He spent the summer as a leader to the young receivers, “I just tell the guys, ‘we gotta catch these tennis balls. We gotta get em in any chance we get. Any free time, come in. You have nothing else to do but come in and get some extra work done.'”
The young guys have not disappointed, with Blake Bone and Dorian Baker receiving early praises from Coach Brown and Coach Mainord. “They’re a little bit different, but in the same (category) too, because they’re both long guys that you can throw the ball on top of and make plays with, and we’re excited about that,” Coach Mainord said. Javess took it a step further, saying Baker will be ‘that guy’ for Kentucky for a long time.
Today was encouraging for the offense, but as Neal Brown said, “we’re still playing flag.” Their true colors will be shown when they strap on the shoulder pads tomorrow morning.