Let’s not beat around the bush today: here’s the nitty gritty, the meat and potatoes, the Big Lebowski, the real enchilada, and the bees’ knees from today’s practice.
– Max Smith is taking the week off from throwing. It’s a little annoying, but Smith still has plenty of opportunities to improve during the Bye Week, “Playing Quarterback is such a mental game, so I’m just in the back watching every play, going through my progression, making decisions just not throwing the ball. That’s really more than 50% of the game. Throws, well I don’t know what the percentages are, but throwing isn’t as important as everything else that you have to think about pre-snap.”
– The Cats went 0-13 on 3rd down against Louisville last week. How did it look so ugly? Here’s how (from Neal Brown): 4 dropped passes, an interception, and three critical mistakes on the offensive line at the point of attack. Eight easy missed opportunities is a great formula for laying a goose-egg.
– Speaking of dropped passes, it isn’t the easiest mistake that you can fix overnight. Neal Brown attributes it to having the wrong mentality. Here’s what he had to say:
“The whole problem the other day, and this is the problem where we’ve had drops, is they’re trying to run after the catch. It goes back to ‘trying to do too much’. They’ve got to do their job. I tell them all the time ‘we’re down 10, there’s no 10-point plays, all you can do is catch the ball, once you catch it head straight upfield and see what happens.’ That’s what we’ve been concentrating on most is just catching the ball before heading upfield.”
– The Cats haven’t scored in a 3rd quarter this year. Stoops likes to think that it’s a little mental with some poor execution, but Neal Brown was quick to retort, “We’ve scored twice within like the first minute of the 4th, does that count?” He went on to say, “It’s pure execution, about like all of our issues. We threw a pick on the inch yard-line last week.” It’s hard to score when you’re knocking on the door, only to give away the fist that’s knocking.
– After JoJo Kemp busted out 80 yards on only 5 carries Saturday, he put himself in a perfect position to get more playing time. Kemp’s biggest hindrance to playing time before wasn’t doing the right things when he had the ball, it’s in blitz coverage when he doesn’t have the ball. Jojo is putting in the extra time to make sure he can get on the field, and stay there, “I’ve got to study film more. In high school, you watch film as a unit. Now after you study film as a unit, you have to take it upon yourself when you go home and on your free time to go over the blitz more. These coaches treat you like you’re a grown man and you have to step up and do things on your own.”
– With Kemp destined to get more clock and Coach Brown stating Saturday that they’ll also be using Dyshawn Mobley more often, it makes you wonder which of the 4 backs will be getting the most playing time. Jojo is stepping up in practice (see above), Dyshawn has had back-to-back great performances in practice, and Raymond Sanders ‘bounced back’ this week after struggling last week. Brown believes, “there are plenty of carries to go around.”
– Jalen Whitlow is kicking himself in the ass after watching film. The interception he threw near the goal line would’ve been an easy touchdown if he would’ve used his legs to get it there. Neal Brown knows that as a dual-threat Quarterback, guys tend to want to prove that they’re a good passer, he tells them, “Play to your strengths. He’s a good passer and decision-maker and all of those other things, but he can REALLY run it. Don’t get caught up in what people think, play to your strength.”
– If you didn’t hear Bo Pelini’s rant that has recently surfaced on the internet, it’s quite entertaining. The F-bombs galore put him into the fire despite the conversation being private and two years old. Coach Stoops has been friends with Pelini for quite some time, reaching out to his friend in a time of hardship, “We talked, I’d like to keep that between us. Bo’s a good coach and a good person, and you hate to see that happen to anybody.” Let’s hope their private conversation doesn’t go viral as well.