LEXINGTON, Ky. --- The following is Part II of Guy Morriss' Media Day press conference on Thursday at Wildcat Den:
On expectations for offense, defense and special teams:
"Special teams was an area we really thought needed to improve, and that's why coach Nelson is here. He will coach all of the special teams with help from all the coaches, but he and I will make all the final decisions in those areas. The thing I think will help our special teams area is we've given him free reign on the personnel side of it. He can pick any player from any position, put them on the special teams, and we expect them to excell. That's not been the case in the past. I think that's hurt us.
"Our philosophy will be a little bit different. I guess I'm a little bit more conservative. We'll have all the fakes you see from everybody. We'll have it in and ready to go, and if it's there, we'll take advantage of it. But we're not going to be a loose cannon with fake punts... I don't know where else in the game you exchange more real estate. That's a huge of a football game, field position, so we're going to always try to be on the positive side of that."
"Defensively I think that if we can stay healthy, and if our younger players in the secondary, especially at corner, can hold up --- because people are going to test them for obvious reasons; we don't have a lot of experience there --- I think we can come together and be a good defensive football team. That goes back to changing philosophy. The first day we sat down as a team after I got the job, the first group of kids I wanted to talk to was our defense. I went over and laid it out in no uncertain terms that we expect you to be a good defensive football team; you have to for us to be successful. We're not interested in a bunch of 'empty yards'. So the bottom line is we'll be very happy if we can win a whole lot of ballgames 10-7. It doesn't do us much good to get beat 59-49. I'm not interested in that. The bottom line for me is wins, and that's what we're here to do. I don't care if we do it offensively, defensively or with special teams."
"Offensively, I think we were becoming a very one-dimensional team. I don't think that you can do that in this conference, or in any conference really. You look back at the history of the NFL, with the exception of the 1999 Rams, of the predominantly throwing teams, they're the only ones that ever won a championship. Look at the Dolphins with a guy like Marino, all those yards. How many miles did he throw for? And he's not wearing a championship ring."
"So we want to balance our offense up a bit. We want to put a little bit more pizzazz in our running game. We've done some things that I think will help us there. We've done some things that I think will help our running game, like putting our linemen back in a three-point stance. We've put the 'I' (formation) back in our offense. It's a little bit more of a sophisticated running game.... Last year, we had one or two runs (plays) in our offense, and that's pretty easy to prepare for in itself. And we never called them. People didn't worry about us running the football. That was a part of our game that, if I was a defensive coordinator, I would concede in a heartbeat. All we've got to do is stop the pass. ... So I think a little better running game will put the balance back in it. We'll have the 'I', the three-point stance, and we'll be throwing the ball a little bit deeper down the field. We won't run quite as many shallow crossing routes and those type of things."
On changing the fortunes of the program as a whole:
"I think that they way you change a program is through the philosophy of the head guy and the administration above him. And I think the way you change that is through recruiting. You've got to have good players to be successful, so we've got to do a better job of recruiting. We've taken those steps. We're going to make better decisions because we're recruiting as a staff. Philosophy-wise, it's things we've already talked about. But we want our kids to understand that it's a priviledge to come wear the blue and white. You've got to earn the right to step on the field Sept. 1. That's kind of where we start, then we start teaching them the things it's going to take to be successful. We talk about the passion it takes to play this game, the work ethic, being committed to work as hard as your competition. And you've got to work a little bit harder to get ahead. You've got to have a good plan, you've got to sell that plan to your kids, and then see it through. I think we, as a coaching staff, have to have staying power. We've got to coach a kid just as hard this year as next year and the next year after that. You just don't take it for granted that a kid's going to know whatever. It's kind of an ongoing, constant way of life."
"And it's not just Xs and Os. We talk about how to eat. We're trying to educate our kids right now how to eat better. We were a fat football team last year. We teach them how to watch film. You'd be surprised by a high school kid just coming out. When he watches film, he just follows the ball like a typical fan. You have to teach them what to look for, the tricks of the trade, if you will. You have to teach them how to practice. A lot of kids really don't know how to practice, the intensity level and the tempo on a day-to-day basis. That's part of the changes we've made. We've tried to create more of a Saturday-type game atmosphere on Monday through Friday. That way the speed of the game doesn't triple on them, the intensity level doesn't triple on them, on Saturday."
On the schedule and future scheduling issues:
"If I had my druthers, I'd like to play Louisville at the end of the year. I understand the economics of why we play them the first game of the year, but as a football coach, I'd like it to be at the end. ... I guess you could make a case either way, but going in toward the end of the season, there could be some bowl implications on that last game of the year. I just think it would be a better matchup and a better rivalry by the end because we're both polished football teams. It would make a better game."
"I think it's a good schedule. That's one thing, the schedule, that really doesn't bother me too much. I have the attitude that if you're ever going to be the best, you have to play and beat the best. Our schedule will certainly help us do that... It kind of irks me sometimes to see these powerhouse traditional football programs bowing out of games or going out and playing three or four wimps on their schedule just to get victories. I was glad to see when the Bowl Championship Series put the strength of schedule in there. I think that says a lot about a football program.