I saw some things.
I saw some good things.
I saw some different things.
But I was just happy that I saw anything worth seeing at all.
Let me break it down in a bit more detail. First of all, let me dispell some myths about the University of Kentucky football team.
Myth #1: UK is terribly out of shape, not even worth mentioning in the likes of the rest in the SEC.
Not true. The University of Kentucky Wildcats that were on the field were bigger, faster and stronger than last year. Doesn't this sound insanely familiar? Of course, because most who made this statement in previous years were looking only at the players who were expected to be bigger, faster, and stronger. Players that suprised many with their physiques included those that I had mentioned before. But, the guys who were not expected to do anything differently, at least physically, came in looking like SEC football players. Subject number one is Quentus Cumby. Yes, the Quentus Cumby. Although many were "dissapointed" with his less than stellar performance last year (he was plain flat out embarrased a few times), he had a great spring performance and followed it up with a great summer performance in the weight room. His arms are nearly as big as Artoses, and being that they are considerably longer, that is quite the feat. A mate at the Safety position, Muhammad Abudallah also came in looking like he had added about 15 lbs. With his seeming willingness to stick his head out and make sticks, he may just make a decent safety THIS year.
Myth #2: Kentucky does not have players talented enough mentally on defense to understand football on the same level as the larger SEC schools.
Again, not true. This stems from many concrete examples last year when our players looked flat out confused. Both by the defense they were playing, as well as the offense they were playing against. UK's linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks were consistantly on different pages, and looked more confused than Phil Fulmer at an all Blue and White Tennessee football parade. With what little indication one can recieve from a first practice, things seemed to be a bit different. With a new defensive backs coach in McGriff, and with some work obviously done reading the playbook by the players, things went much more smoothly in 7 on 7's, and 11 on 11's. An example of this is the progression of Kamaal Ahmed. In the spring, his lack of knowledge of the scheme was pushing him further and further down the depth chart, making some question whether or not we should have taken a Juco at his position. Today, I saw him making play calls, being the "Ronnie Riley" of the second team defense, which is good. We needed someone on the second team to step up to that role, and it looks as if he may be the one to do it.
Myth #3: A coach needs D1 experience at that position to be successful at that position.
I should not even have to answer this, but I'll refer to a conversation I had with Coach Morriss today. He was talking about how the staff had made a trip to the St. Louis Rams Combine, and how they noticed certain things that they thought were really key to having a successful football team, things that were different from what they had done in the past. They also had noticed some things that were similar, and were encouraged to keep doing. Now, I won't get into the specifics, but let me get to my point. On UK's staff, there are numerous coaches with NFL experience. This experience is not only good for their personal knowledge, but also in the people that they know and have come in contact with over the years. This allows them certain privaledges over other coaches, such as being able to get a personal invite to watch the Rams camp and get an idea as to why they are so good.
Wow, ya know, it is amazing what one can get from a first day of practice. I'll even throw in a couple of other notes of worthy nature....Chad Anderson was seen playing 3rd team linebacker, as was Tim Funderburk. Also on that third team was phenom Kareem Reid (is this guy a phenom because of the way he plays, or looks, I'm not even sure) and the Mills brothers. I believe it is quite nice to have such talent, albeit young, on our third team defense. I think it shows that this staff is dedicated to building depth towards the future.
Anyway, I am off to try and get some pictures up of the guys today, and look for another report tomorrow, MUCH earlier, on Big Blue Nation.