I asked for the BBN to tweet more UK Football questions. You didn’t disappoint. Some interesting topics surfaced:
[email protected]: What are the differences in Dawson’s Air Raid compared to Neal Brown’s Air Raid?
Have to start with recruited and developed talent. Neal walked into a skill position dumpster fire. Dawson inherited better developed and more talented players. Schematically, Dawson relies more on a four receiver lineup. Neal preferred to feature a TE. Dawson will adjust for Conrad and Long. Shannon Dawson will stress the power run game and rely less on the horizontal emphasis. Vertical pass plays will also be more prevalent. Both are very good coordinators. Stoops hit a home run with Shannon Dawson.
[email protected]: Give me a reason to be optimistic about the cornerback play. Right now the thought scares me to death.
Legitimate concern Nate. I am also uneasy about the position. Tiller, Harmon, and Quinn are all seniors. They’ll be schematically sound and assignment reliable. A three year work sample indicates the trio have maxed out in terms of ability. The veterans have played a great deal of football and have earned the right to be named as pre-camp starters. In the 15 class, Stoops signed multiple CB’s. This group wasn’t recruited to sit. There’s a good chance that the starting cornerbacks will be different from game one to game four. Also, I’m intrigued with redshirts and former Nickel players that may fill the void. These include Kendall Randolph, Blake McClain, and Jared Tucker. There will be intense competition and position changes in preseason camp. I have to be completely fair and balanced. I re-watched all 12 games from last season. At times, when receivers were running wide open, it was not the cornerback’s fault. Instead, linebackers and safeties lacked the athletic ability to matchup with SEC skill receivers.
[email protected]: Could UK recover from a first game loss to UL-Lafayette or does that cripple the season?
No and yes. I do not think the Cats could recover from an opening game loss. Therefore, yes it would cripple the season. If that happens, I could easily imagine a 0-4 start. However, I don’t think UK will lose on 5 September. Matter of fact, through in-depth personnel study, I tend to believe that UK will win rather comfortably. 2013, ULL would have ran the Cats out of the stadium. 14 would have been a toss-up. 15, UK decisively wins.
[email protected]: Can UK stop the run? Or at least slow it down? Which of the new guys could help the most here?
Really good questions. First, can UK stop the run? I have to be vague but my answer is, possibly. Run defense success will greatly rely upon veteran LB development and health. Melvin Lewis/Matt Elam are prototypical nose tackles. In the 3-4, nose tackles and inside linebackers are vital against the run. Second part of your question, which of the new guys could help the most? I lean towards the JUCO defensive linemen, Alvonte Bell and Courtney Miggins. In addition to those two, outside linebacker Denzel Ware will factor.
[email protected]: What was your most memorable road game while at UK? Favorite UK memory?
Road games weren’t too kind to me. I’d have to go with winning at Vanderbilt my sophomore year. That victory was our sixth of the season, which guaranteed a winning season. In that era, UK played 11, not 12 game schedules. Jerry Claiborne somewhat viewed me as a loose cannon. I took joy in that. Kept the old man on edge. We were in the victory formation and I was supposed to take the snap, then take a knee and game over. Claiborne called a time out. You see, earlier in the year against North Carolina and in the same situation, I fumbled the snap. We recovered the fumble, we won. Scary. Back to the Vandy game. I came to the sideline, Claiborne gave me the “eye” and made me physically demonstrate just how I was going to take the snap then take a knee. I remember laughing on my trot back to the huddle. I also recall seeing Coach Claiborne’s face after the game. He was never satisfied, but I could sense relief. I’m not certain that he knew that 1989 was his last season. But on that day, he was tremendously proud of his football program. I think he took extra pride in the fact that we won the 6th on the road. We all wanted to please Jerry Claiborne. We all wanted his approval. We all loved our Coach.
As for memory? After beating LSU at home, my all-time favorite Wildcat, Bill Ransdell, waited for me in the locker room tunnel. After spitting out an ounce of Levi Garrett, he bear hugged me then told me how proud he was of my performance. That was my “arrival” moment. On that one instance, I thought I was pretty cool.
[email protected]: What do you think about the potential of Jeff Badet, Alexander Montgomery, and Blake Bone as playmakers on O this year?
They will all certainly contribute. Tommy Mainord is an excellent receiver coach. Collective fundamentals will be better. Couple that with physical maturation, the WR group will be vastly improved. Badet and Montgomery will be hungry to impress after missing their second season. I expect Badet to be a break-out player and Montgomery to be that go to receiver in critical, third and medium situations. As for Blake Bone, the jury is out. As a true freshman, he impressed. Also as a rookie, well, he played like a rookie. If his upper body strength has improved, he will become a viable goal-line option. I really like the 2015 WR position.
[email protected]: Is there an under the radar guy that could break out his year and who do you think will return kicks/punts?
Under the radar can be interpreted many different ways. Offensively, Cole Mosier is the one player that stands out. He makes the 15 offensive line considerably better. Reasoning is that Mosier can effectively play multiple positions. That alone provides organic depth. Defensively, Adrian Middleton is the 14 signee that has flown under the radar. At 300 pounds, he will factor and play. I expect big things from Adrian. I’ve tracked his development. Just got a hunch. Who will return kicks/punts? Hope not Boom. Much too valuable at RB. I really don’t have an answer.
Thanks that was fun. We’ll do this again before camp starts then make it a weekly occurrence.