The 2006 turning point for UK football

Except for the died-in-the-wool big blue fan and the ones awaiting their "Big Blue" cataract surgery, hardly anyone, was willing to go out on the limb for fear of getting it sawed off under them, picked anything beyond a break-even season. And many picked less! What turned this season around following losses to Louisville and LSU?

Except for the died-in-the-wool big blue fan and the ones awaiting their "Big Blue" cataract surgery, hardly anyone, was willing to go out on the limb for fear of getting it sawed off under them, picked anything beyond a break-even season. And many picked less!

For a team that started out as dismal as the Louisville clobbering and wound up as strong as they did in the Tennessee game, there had to be a turning point in the season.

When asked when that point was, Coach Rich Brooks said the LSU game and the off week.

Why?

"We were embarrassed," Brooks said. The coaching staff wanted to be a more physical team with the running game, and had a series of tough practices during the off-week. "Getting out of the shotgun, which we were in 90 percent of the time, helped us to become a more physical team," the coach said.

"I told them we were soft and we weren't tough enough and we weren't physical enough and if we expected to be as good as we could be and what I felt we should be, then we had to get back to being a tougher football team and trying to run the football and trying to defend the run."

He said they went more of good-on-good instead good-on-scout team. It helped the team to become tougher and it helps with the speed of the game."

Brooks said the turning point for Curtis Pulley will be dictated by him as much as anybody. He said it's a growing up process to be more responsible off the field as well on the field. He said Andre Woodson went through some of the same things.

When asked if he ever had a player come as fast and as far as Andre Woodson this year? Brooks said – "Yes I have at different positions. All of a sudden the light goes on. You live your coaching life just hoping that young guys you are trying to convince that this is the way you need to do it understand and get it. And you beat your head; you don't sleep at night because a lot of them don't get it. They just keep floundering around and making it on ability and happenstance. Then all of a sudden some of them turn the light switch on and it is light and they understand it. You don't waste time on beating a dead horse on guys who don't have the ability and that's the part that some guys don't understand. They think you don't like them; you are picking on them because you are always trying to get them to understand what they need to do well. I guarantee you Andre went through some of that. He thought we were picking on him, he thought I didn't like him, maybe, and all of a sudden he's my best friend. I mean the guy got it and you don't have to get upset and scream and jump up and down and yell. He's almost telling you before you tell him – he knows when something went wrong. Andre has turned it around to the nth degree. He's been phenomenal!"

Who, besides the head coach, the position coach, the coordinator or the lead recruiter can reach a kid to spur the light going on with them?

"If I had the answer to that question," Brooks said, "I'd stop coaching and write a book and go around giving seminars to everybody in business and in the coaching profession. That would mean I have the knowledge that nobody, in my mind, in this world has. You never know what person or what comment is going to turn the light switch on, whether it's a mother, who finally gets through to her son, a father, a girl friend, or a head coach, or a recruiting coordinator, or the high school coach. In coaching, you have no idea. You just keep coaching and pointing out what he is doing wrong and what he needs to do better and it is a process. A lot of guys that I've coached never got it. That didn't mean that they were bad people, they didn't maximize their abilities as football players. You keep trying different solution – there's no magic solution. If I'm not being heard, then somebody's got to be heard!"

So, perhaps this is finally the turning point for the team. Brooks said, is this a sharp turn or a bend in the road? "Having the young players that we have, I hope this becomes a common occurrence around here."


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