Morriss distancing himself from Mumme

While the Cats should remain a pass-oriented team, that could be one of the only similarities to the Hal Mumme-led squads of the last four years...

LEXINGTON, Ky.  --- For those still wondering if Guy Morriss would be sticking with many aspects of "Mummeball" or putting his own stamp on the Kentucky program, those questions were met with resounding answers Thursday at the Wildcats' Media Day.

Morriss, an assistant under Hal Mumme, didn't just put distance between himself and his former boss. It was more like an excommunication.

Numerous times during his 45-minute press conference, Morriss noted basic team philosophies or outright bad habits that would be changed under his watch.


Morriss surveys a recent freshman practice.

n On defense taking a back seat to flashy offense:

"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."

n On the need to develop a more consistent 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.

n On the quarterback competition between Jared Lorenzen and Shane Boyd with a not-so subtle reference to how Dusty Bonner lost his job last year despite seemingly winning it on the field:

"I don't think you can tell these kids we're going to have a competition and the winner will be declared on the field, then a guy wins it and you don't give him the job. Then I lose credibility that way."

n On conditioning:

"We were a fat football team last year."

n On special teams and the punting game in particular, where Mumme was known as the nation's biggest gambler on fakes:

"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."

And those were just the highlights of what could have passed as an unofficial --- and thinly veiled --- Mumme roast.

Since being named Kentucky's new coach in February, Morriss seems determined to implement his own style of football, a brand he learned through 15 years as an NFL lineman under the likes of Raymond Berry and Dick Vermeil. He credited the two former coaches for helping him develop honesty, intensity and preparation.

Whether you call it "old school" or just conventional, the players seem to be buying into the Morriss plan and determined to show they're not a 2-9 team.

"Coach Morriss has brought this team together," senior linebacker Ronnie Riley said. "He's got us believing in what we're doing and focused on a common goal. The last couple of years, I couldn't say that."

"We know that defense is going to be treated just as important as offense," added sophomore defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. "They've made us feel like we're a big key to the team."

Said senior safety Anthony Wajda, who was bannished to the kennel-sized "dog house" after struggling early in the season:  "We've got coaches now who will talk to you and coach you."

Even those who thrived in the Mumme system --- such as sophomore quarterback Jared Lorenzen --- will admit they're more comfortable under the new head coach.

"It's coach Morriss," said Lorenzen when asked how the players could sound so confident on the heels of a winless SEC campaign.   "He's put in our heads that there's no reason why we can't be good. He's a great motivator, and then he went out and hired one of the best staffs I've ever been around."

So before the first snap of the season, it would seem Morriss is already 1-0.

 


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