VAUGHT: UK Media Day shows optimism and excitement

If there is any worry that this is going to be Rich Brooks' last year at Kentucky, it sure wasn't obvious at Media Day Saturday.

Not only was the coach relaxed, and optimistic, but his players were the same way. They playfully lifted Brooks in the air after the team photo had been made and joked with each other during the various interviews.

"We see no reason that we can't win," tight end Jacob Tamme said. "I think we all believe in what we are doing. There's no reason to be any other way."

Offensive coordinator Joker Phillips is being viewed as UK's savior by many after taking over from Ron Hudson, a knowledgeable coach who refused to adapt his system to fit Kentucky's talent. Phillips will use quarterback Andre Woodson and his receivers to have a more productive offense, but he doesn't want any savior label put on him.

"Those guys up front, they are the saviors. Andre Woodson and the receivers are the saviors. So are the running backs. You are only as good as your talent is. But I do think we have good talent," Phillips said.

Brooks still worries about a lack of depth and experience at linebacker, end and cornerback on defense. He isn't sure if freshman Curtis Pulley can push Woodson at quarterback, or if needed, replace him during a game.

But UK has a healthier, more explosive group of receivers. It has three running backs in Rafael Little, Arliss Beach and Tony Dixon that Brooks likes. It has far more depth in the offensive line.

"I am as excited to start a season as I have ever been," Brooks said. "I really feel good about this team."

Guess what? So do I. No, I can't explain why. No, I don't think UK will win the Southeastern Conference title or finish in the top 25. However, I do think this is going to be a Kentucky team that will play hard, have fun and have a chance to win more games than many people expect.

The players like each other, they respect the coaches and the team believes it can win. I'm not sure any of that was totally true last year.

"I already love these guys," freshman linebacker Braxton Kelley said. "They are all like brothers. This team wants to win and believes it can win. You sense that immediately and I believe the older players when they tell me we can win."


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