Below is a transcript from today’s Kentucky Football Media Day News Conference with offensive coordinator Neal Brown and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. Head coach Mark Stoops transcript to follow.
Q. How relieved are you to have – Blue on campus ‑‑ and how long do you think you have to get up to speed with the system?
COACH BROWN: Very excited about him. We thought he was, if not the best, one of the top two or three junior college receivers in the country last year. Signed him at Texas Tech, had some grade issues, went to Butler and community college and led them to a National Championship game. Last year was very productive. And he's a smart kid. We are going to take him slow. He wasn't here during the summer and go through Coach (Erik) Korem's and Coach (Corey) Edmonds' regimen, so take it slow, kind of gradually, get him mentally fit and get him in, but we do expect him to be a factor this year for sure.
Q. What do you expect from from Ryan Timmons ‑‑
COACH BROWN: Ryan had a great high school career. I think, obviously, Mark (Story), you know that. But he has the ability to run the football and he has the ability to play receiver. We are going to start him at receiver and teach him that aspect first. From a technical standpoint is a little tougher to learn.
He's also a guy that we have some depth issues at running back can bounce over there and play there, too. I think everybody in the state is excited about Ryan and they should be but also you have to realize that these freshmen, they are 18 years old, and they are going to go out and play in front of 60,000‑plus the first game and it's going to be like that every time.
So I think our expectations have got to be realistic, but at the same time, if they are the most talented guys, we have got to take those bumps.
Q. How do you keep it from being a quarterback controversy and stay a quarterback competition?
COACH BROWN: Yeah, well, I think it starts with the demeanor and how Coach Stoops and I handle it, and I think they are good people. I don't think any of those guys are jealous by nature. I think they are really good, solid human beings.
And it's something we talk about. Jen (Smith), we talked about it this morning when we met; just talked about, hey, this is going to be about we, not about me. This is how the reps are going to be distributed and everybody is going to get an opportunity to prove themselves, and the most productive guy will win.
Q. Can you talk about the quarterbacks and what their particular strength is that you really like?
COACH BROWN: Maxwell (Smith), I think he has potential to be really accurate with the football. And he has been productive when he's been healthy. Now, he has not been healthy a whole lot, which is an issue. But he's been productive and he's accurate with the football and he's done it against good people.
When you're talking about Patrick (Towles), he's got a strong arm and he's a big kid that runs better than most people think and he's got a big‑time arm talent.
Talk about Jalen (Whitlow), he's a make maker, one of the better athletes on our football team and he makes plays. Another thing I like about Jalen is he got thrown into the fire and he doesn't shun away and even though the end results didn't show it, he got better as it went on last year.
And then Reese (Phillips) has no fear. Reese Phillips, he went out, by far the biggest crowd he's ever had to perform in front of in the spring game and performed admirably.
Q. Can you talk about Jordan Aumiller a little bit?
COACH BROWN: Yeah, I like Jordan (Aumiller). He's come a long way. I think really surprised, Vince (Marrow) and I both, during spring. He's had a rough career here, really. He's been kind of in and out of the doghouse, and really didn't know what to expect during the spring. He did a good job changing his body and he's probably as productive as anybody at that position.
Now he's got to carry that out through football camp. He's got a little bit more competition at that position with Anthony Kendrick coming back but pleased with his progress before.
Q. On the offensive line …
COACH BROWN: John (Clay), we are going to have to experiment some, just because ‑‑ right tackle, Jordan Swindle, will start him at right tackle, when we get going this afternoon. But he'll also have to get some left tackle reps as we proceed, because he may have to be the backup at left tackle, also.
Kevin Mitchell is a guy that's going to have to be a swing guy at right guard and right tackle. Zach West is a kid that's, you know, played left guard last year, started I think every game, if I'm not mistaken. We have got to get him some left guard and center reps.
So just through some lack of numbers at certain positions, we are going to have to double‑train some guys.
Q. On the tight end position …
COACH BROWN: Well, I think we have got a lot of numbers. We have got some guys that have some experience at that position, no question. I think how we use them depends on their skill set. Are some of the bigger kids, are they going to be able to stand up and do what we want as slot receivers, or maybe some of the guys that are a little slighter, are they going to be able to do what we want to with their hand down, and I think we'll use them in the backfield some.
You've all heard me saying it, and maybe tired of hearing it, but we have 15 practices in the spring, got a couple weeks here early in camp. We have got to figure out who we are, who our best 11 are and then who our next best five or six are at the skill positions, and then form what we are going to be around those people, their strengths.
Q. The fans want to be excited and can be excited by a high‑powered offense, do you feel a sense of responsibility in that regard ‑‑
COACH BROWN: Yeah, that's what we are paying me to do, if that's what you're asking. And this will get redundant, but what we have got to do ‑‑ and when I talk to our guys, when I talk to them for the first time as a unit her later this afternoon, we are going to coach them with the expectations that they are going to be great. That's how we are going to handle them on a day‑to‑day basis is we want to be a great offense.
And are we there? Are we going to be there this afternoon? Probably not. When will it happen? I don't know. I tell them, it's not if; it's when. We want to be exciting. We want to be high‑tempo. We want to put a product out there that ‑‑ and you heard Coach Stoops who probably said blue collar in here. We want to ‑‑ I feel like this is a blue collar state, from east to west; we want to put a product out there that resembles the people in this state. We want to play high tempo, we want to play physical and we want to get after people.
Q. On team goals …
COACH BROWN: Not necessarily the yards. When you talk about, we have got some goals and I think the goals are that ‑‑ give you an opportunity to win the game. Doesn't mean you're going to, but I think it gives you an opportunity.
We want to be at 75‑plus snaps. We want to be 48 percent or better on third downs. We like being 50 percent or higher on first downs, which means a good play is four yards. So those are some of the ‑‑ and we have some red zone goals, also. But I guess that's how we judge our guys from week‑to‑week.
Like I said, doesn't mean that if we meet every one of them, that we are going to be successful, because there's a chance. Probably the No. 1 thing is we always talk about ‑‑ or I guess the two most important, I should have led with these are: We want to win the turnover margin, which I think is going to be huge for us this year, and we have got to figure out a way to make more explosive plays than the other team.
Q. What are your expectations for your returning wide receivers?
COACH BROWN: Well, I'm excited to see them this afternoon. I'm excited to see how much improvement there is from when we finished the spring game until now, because I think they are all self‑driven people, especially A.J. Legree, and Demarco (Robinson) had success, and those guys can see the success that we had at Texas Tech throwing the football, and they can see what we did in the spring.
So we need those guys to come along. I don't think there's anyway to dodge that or anything. We have got it ‑‑ we need those guys to come on and be players for us. A lot of the growth that we make at wide‑out, that's going to depend on how we do as an offense.
I do back to this ‑‑ I'm really looking forward to it, and Tommy Mainord and I have talked about this extensively. It's not many times you go into situation where you have got so much youth at wide‑out, and really it's a blank canvas. We have an opportunity to really mold these guys and develop them.
Is it going to be, do you want to pull out your hair at some point? No question. There's going to be some growing pains, but it's also going to be a really fun time and a really teaching time.
Q. On certain formulas for your goals …
COACH BROWN: There's a couple stat websites and stuff, yeah, just kind of went back on that. Nothing really exciting.
Q. Are you completely opposed to playing more than one quarterback in a game?
COACH BROWN: I don't think you ever have a closed mind about anything. I think it's always better if you have one clear‑cut guy that goes out and wins the job. But if there's no separation, I think that you've seen in the past. Coach (Steve) Spurrier does it a lot, where they used multiple quarterbacks. I think there's scenarios where that can be successful.
Q. The kids working in the summer, can they be that much better?
COACH BROWN: I think they will be improved, Alan (Cutler), there's no question. You're talking about three- to four‑month period, and they know what to expect now from a fundamental standpoint. We give them a lot of teaching tools. We can't teach them ourselves. We give them a lot of teaching tools video‑wise, and I think there's going to be a lot said for when we come out this week, who has had the most improvement and that may mean it's a little more important to that person.
Q. Being up‑tempo, also reflecting the people in the state ‑‑ the blue collar – there is a perception that blue collar is running the football. Can up-tempo be blue collar.
COACH BROWN: Yeah, I think there's no question. If we are playing more plays, that means we're working harder. We're running 85 and the other one is running 65, we are giving a little bit more effort.
I think that running the football is always going to be a part of what we do. There's no question it's important, especially in this league. We have got to be able to establish it. And especially kind of where we are at as a unit right now, we are going to depend on some play‑action passes for some big plays.
Q. Your defensive line, what can the guys up front do to take pressure off?
COACH ELIOT: Well at Florida State our strength at times was our defensive line too. So we had certain schemes that we had designed that maybe put more pressure on them and less pressure on the secondary.
Q. What are you going to be looking out there on the field the first time, certain things you're going to be looking for right away?
COACH ELIOT: Well, we've only had them for 15 days. So I still need to figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are and how we are going to adjust off of that. So the main thing that I'm going to be looking for is what the players can do and how we can use them.
Q. You have been at five stops with Coach Stoops. How many times have you heard the term, "the process," and what exactly does that mean in your mind?
COACH ELIOT: Well, the process is day‑to‑day. It's not just the game. So we work on what we have to work on that day and then we evaluate ourselves on that day.
So when he says we are concentrating on the process and not the outcome, it's what did we do that day or maybe that rep or maybe that meeting to make ourselves better. And then the outcome will fall into place.
Q. Is that something you've been preaching since you've known him?
COACH ELIOT: No, he's been that way since I've known him. He's a day‑to‑day guy.
Q. How do guys like Kory Brown and Miles Simpson fit into your team and what do you think they can do to help?
COACH ELIOT: I think that two of those guys are different. One is bigger and one is a little bit smaller and more agile. But we have got ways to use both types of backers. We have got ways to use guys when we're playing heavy‑run teams and we have ways to use backers when we have heavy‑pass teams, and both those guys have different skill sets.
Q. What's your impression of Avery (Williamson)?
COACH ELIOT: My first impression of Avery was I think this guy has got the measurements. He's got the height and got the size and I saw him move around and said okay, he's got some ability.
But what really impressed me was when I saw how he interacted with the players and how seriously he took the game. I was only on the job a few days and he was already up in my office wanting to learn the playbook. So I've been very impressed with his intangibles.
Q. How healthy is Donte Rumph?
COACH ELIOT: I think Donte is close and we are expecting big things from him, and he'll be ready to go by the game.
Q. What's your impression of the (Lexington) area?
COACH ELIOT: Lexington? I love it. It's fantastic. My wife loves the community. You know, supposedly we have hot summers but I haven't seen them yet.
So we love the summer, and you know, we have really enjoyed the off‑season. We have enjoyed in all the Lexington and Kentucky social life. We went to the Kentucky Derby. We went to Keeneland. My kids are in little league sports, and it's been fantastic.
Q. How much do you need guys like Melvin Lewis and Nate Willis.
COACH ELIOT: I think we need everybody, and so we are going to find what we have and we are going to make our adjustments off of that, but we need everybody.
Q. Can you talk about your defense level ‑‑
COACH ELIOT: Each level, I think the defensive line, like I've mentioned before, is the furthest along right now, and we just need to continue to get better and continue to develop more depth there.
And then at linebacker, we have got to make sure that we are not only making plays, but the linebackers are the quarterbacks of the defense, that they are making the right checks and the right adjustments. In the secondary we need to improve fundamentally.
Q. If you had to have one strength, is it always D‑Linemen?
COACH ELIOT: No, you know, I've coached on different teams where you had different strengths. But having four good defensive linemen is important. You don't have to cover somebody if they sack them, you know what I mean. So it goes a long ways.
Q. What's been the biggest change for you since becoming a position coach to a coordinator?
COACH ELIOT: Well, I guess instead of being responsible for eight guys, being responsible for about 30‑something guys. Just managing and being responsible for the entire defense has been a big change.
Q. What do you think Za’Darius Smith picked up over the summer? What are you going to be looking for when you get out on the field with him?
COACH ELIOT: I think Za'Darius, fortunately was coached by Coach Brumbaugh at his junior college, so he kind of came in ahead of the rest of the group.
So I'm hoping to see him even go to that next level. I think you could tell in the spring that fundamentally, he was ahead of the rest of the guys, but I want to see him even go to that next level where he becomes a great player.
Q. You talked about Brumbaugh a lot, coaching the way that you ‑‑ what do you like about his style and what does he bring?
COACH ELIOT: Well, Coach Brumbaugh played at Auburn for a defensive line coach named Pete Jenkins, and he's a legendary line coach. And Coach Stoops and I got a lot of our techniques from him. Coach Brumbaugh not only played for him but was mentored by him. So that philosophy from Coach Jenkins is the same one that we wanted to put in here at Kentucky.
Q. What are some of those philosophies or what are some of the things that he does that you like or appreciate?
COACH ELIOT: Probably one of the biggest is that we coached our defensive linemen and had to make plays. When we were at Florida State, one of our leading tacklers was a defensive end. So those guys, you know, really concentrated not only on executing their responsibility within the defense, but also how to get off a block and make a play.