Sneed, Burden: what went wrong last year

Linebacker Ronnie Sneed and cornerback Randall Burden, both seniors, both offered some interesting insights Wednesday into what might have been wrong with the Wildcats last year when they stumbled to a 6-7 finish that included disheartening losses to Tennessee and Pittsburgh to end the season.

First, Sneed explained a change in the offseason workout philosophy under strength coach Rock Oliver.

"Things are going really well. This is probably one of the best offseasons I have ever had. Working with Rock, this time we have more emphasis on pumping iron a lot harder and not as much running," said Sneed. "Everybody has packed on weight and definitely gotten stronger and we can really see it in our appearance as well as in our weight room numbers."

Why the need for more weight when the emphasis last year was on speed and conditioning?

"We just felt that last year we might have got pushed around a little bit more than we wanted to. If we want to elevate our game to that next level, we feel like we need to add more weight and strength and that will help us win more games than maybe being faster than the other team," Sneed said. "We are going to take a different approach and see how that goes.

"Right now we are doing heavy lifting and not as much running. If you came at us last summer, we were out running four times a week and this year we are lifting four times a week and maybe running two times out of the week. It is helping us a lot. Last year I know I was weighing about maybe 233. Right now I am about 10 pounds heavier than that."

The conclusion here would be is that coach Joker Phillips understands UK will never be faster than a Florida, Auburn, Georgia or most Southeastern Conference teams. However, added strength/weight might help UK?from getting pushed around like it did at times last year, especially in the final two games.

Burden is part of a veteran defense that had trouble stopping opponents last year for coordinator Steve Brown. That's why Rick Minter joined the staff last December with a co-defensive coordinator title but in reality is the new coordinator.

Burden said one immediate change is the emphasis on creating turnovers in Minter's style.

"I think the scheme we had in past years really was not for us to get as many turnovers, but now with coach Minter I think we will get more turnovers because we are staying deeper than we usually have been and we will probably get more turnovers this season," Burden said. "I like it since I?am a corner. There will be more chances for me to get a play on the ball."

Translation: Kentucky is going to have a more aggressive defense.

Burden made it clear he thought UK?would have a better overall defense this year.

"Because past years there have been some flaws with how we were running our defense, but now we are together more as one team and started to come together as a big family," Burden said when explaining his reasoning that the defense would be better. "All of us have been playing together for a while now and we know each other and how we play.

"With any team, different players have to buy into it. This year I think we are getting everybody on the same page. For us seniors, that was our first losing season (last year). It is making us work harder so we can go out with a good year and a winning season."

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