TIREY: Q&A With UK DL coach Petri

I had a chance to grill the new defensive line coach for the university of Kentucky football team and get his thoughts on everything football. Petri comes to the Cats after spending the last six years with David Cutcliffe and the Ole Miss Rebels, coaching the same position. He has 12 years experience in the SEC and he has coached several "big name" DL, who are having productive years in the NFL.

Q & A with the New DL coach Rick Petri discusses UK, the SEC, and football philosophies

I had a chance to grill the new defensive line coach for the university of Kentucky football team and get his thoughts on everything football. Petri comes to the Cats after spending the last six years with David Cutcliffe and the Ole Miss Rebels, coaching the same position. He has 12 years experience in the SEC and he has coached several "big name" defensive linemen, who are having productive years in the NFL. Here are some excerpts from my chat with Rick Petri…

Q: How did it work out that you find yourself on the Kentucky staff?

RP: In this business, there are a lot of rumor mills, is I guess what you would call them. You hear rumors here, you hear rumors there. I had a good friend of mine that I've known for a long time in coaching that has worked with Coach Brooks before. And he had talked to Coach Brooks, and he had talked about me, so I guess it was a mutual coming-together.

Q: What are your philosophies when coaching the defensive line? What's most important?

RP: Athletic ability is always one thing I look at. I have always believed that you never trade size for athletic ability. I like playing an aggressive attack style on the front, and you need to be athletic to do that. Some people prefer the big bodies, but I lean more towards guys that are playmakers, that can get off the ball, attack, and can get off blocks and go make plays.

Q: Kentucky ran a mixture of 3-4 and 4-3 defenses last year. Coach Brooks has said they will be more of a 4-3 team this year. What are your thoughts of the 4-3?

RP: That's mostly what I've been in, most of my career. The last three years here at Ole Miss we ran a 4-2-5. But we were still in the four man front. One year, when I was here with Don Lindsey, we were in a three man front. But in 28 years of coaching, I've pretty well coached about any combination on the defensive line you could have. I think anytime you have one guy over the whole group, you're much more on the same page as a group, and that helps you with recruiting, with cohesiveness, and all those areas.

Q: You have coached some great names as far as defensive linemen go. You seem to know a little about what it takes for a guy to get into the NFL. Do you have some kind of secret?

RP: I've been blessed. I've been very fortunate. I've been around some very good players. I've had Warren Sapp, Kenard Lang, and Kenny Holmes, three guys who were at Miami and were first round draft choices. John Abraham was a young man at South Carolina when I was there, and he ended up being a first round draft choice. And Kelvin Pritchett, who has played for a long time in the league. It's always fun when you coach those kind of guys. They are always fun and exciting to watch them play, but I'm telling you, it's also fun when you see a guy who may not be as blessed as some of the other players, and through hard work , and practice habits, and studying the game, and doing all the little things in the weight room in the off season, you see them become a very good football player, to get the most out of his abilities.

Q: What do you know about the defensive line for Kentucky, both returning guys and new guys coming into the program?

RP: When I came up over the weekend, we watched film. I got a chance to watch the players briefly. Not near the detail…that's one thing I'll try to jump into as I get there, so I can really study and try to get a feel for what the strengths of each individual player is. I'll try to get a feeling for them. I'm really just on the very beginning of that. You know, first, you're trying to get the job. Then you find out you have the job. Then you got to do the things as far as getting all your stuff together to get ready to get moved. But I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it.

Q: Before getting the job at Kentucky, what were your thoughts of the UK football program?

RP: I have always thought that it was fun to come and play at Kentucky. I always thought the fans were very much into it. I thought it was a very unique setting. I think it's a very pretty campus. I think the whole surrounding area is pretty. That part is very appealing. I always thought the kids played with great intensity. It didn't matter where they were, or what the records were, if they were ahead or behind in the game, whatever it was, they always had the same approach to the game. They always had toughness. They always played with great effort. So I was always impressed with that.

Q: What are your thoughts of the SEC as a football conference?

RP: Every week you better be ready to play, it doesn't matter which team in the SEC [you are playing]. I relate it very much to being like in the NFL. Every week in the NFL, you better come and play. And it's that way in the Southeastern Conference. I think as a coach, that's what makes it so exciting to coach in that league, to be a part of that challenge. And I think as a player, that's why young men decide to go and play in the SEC, is because they want that challenge. They thrive for that kind of competition. I can't think of a better league in the nation than the SEC for football.

Q: What is your goal for the defensive line in your first year?

RP: The main thing, first, is to get to know them. First I have to learn their names. But I'll have to quickly learn a new scheme, a new package, terminology…whenever you go somewhere new, you have to learn the new terminology and the defensive package. But I try to just learn the young men. Not only as a football player, but as a person. Because I think, still, in coaching…that's the major reason why most people coach. Because of relationships with the players. You're not only trying to make them the best that they can be as a player, but also the best they can be as a person.

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