Kentucky names Brown Defensive Coordinator

Steve Brown, defensive backs coach for the University of Kentucky football team, has been promoted to defensive coordinator, Coach Rich Brooks announced Monday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Steve Brown, defensive backs coach for the University of Kentucky football team, has been promoted to defensive coordinator, Coach Rich Brooks announced Monday.

"Steve is very well qualified to be a defensive coordinator and is probably overdue, much like Joker Phillips was (when named offensive coordinator at UK)," Brooks said. "Steve has great experience in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, including his time on our staff, and with (former Rams head coach) Dick Vermeil.

"Steve has done a great job in his four years here and will be responsible for the continued improvement of our defensive performance."

Brown moves into the spot vacated by Mike Archer, who resigned last week to take a coaching position with another team. Brown will guide a defensive unit that in recent seasons has been challenged with low scholarship numbers, injuries, and inexperience. The defense began showing signs of progress during the 2006 season, however.

After allowing 34.1 points per game in 2005, UK improved to 28.4 points per game during the 2006 season. The Wildcats also generated 32 takeaways on defense and the turnover margin of +15 ranked second in the nation in that category. The defense played some of its best football in the final two games of the season in a 17-12 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville, followed by the 28-20 win over Clemson in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. In the bowl victory, the Wildcats surrendered only six points until the fourth quarter and held the powerful Clemson running game well below its season average.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity," Brown said. "I'm looking forward to working with the returning players and building upon the success we had in the last couple of games."

An evaluation of the depth charts of Southeastern Conference teams in November showed that UK had the youngest defense in the league, based on the number of freshmen and sophomores on the teams' two-deep defensive listing. UK had 16 freshmen and sophomores among the 22 players on the defensive depth chart, with the next closest being Vanderbilt and South Carolina with 13.

Kentucky could return as many as eight starters on defense in 2007, including the top five tacklers (LB Wesley Woodyard, LB Braxton Kelley, FS Marcus McClinton, SS Roger Williams, and CB Trevard Lindley), along with the leaders in tackles for loss (Woodyard), quarterback sacks (DT Myron Pryor), interceptions (McClinton), and pass breakups (Lindley). Three starters must be replaced, DE Durrell White, DT Lamar Mills, and CB Karl Booker. Kentucky will continue to play the 4-3 defensive scheme that has been used in recent seasons.

Brown played for Brooks at Oregon in 1979-82 as a defensive back and kick returner, earning a spot on the All-Pacific 10 Team each season. Brown played eight seasons with the NFL's Houston Oilers. He coached six years with St. Louis, including the 1999 season when the Rams captured the 2000 Super Bowl.

Brown has been with the UK staff since 2003. Under Brown's guidance, safety Muhammad Abdullah was named second-team All-SEC for three straight years, cornerback Antoine Huffman broke the UK career record for pass breakups, and in the 2006 season, cornerback Trevard Lindley earned first-team Freshman All-America honors and was named to the All-Bowl Team for his performance in the win over Clemson.

In addition to Brooks and Vermeil, other coaches that Brown has been associated with over the years include Nick Saban, current Alabama head coach who was Brown's position coach for two years when he played with the Oilers; Gregg Williams, current defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins, who also was on the Oilers' staff when Brown played; and Bud Carson, architect of the Pittsburgh Steelers' famed "Steel Curtain" defense, who was on the Rams' coaching staff with Brown.

Kentucky Defense had the Most Freshmen and Sophomores: While the Kentucky defense had its ups-and-downs during the 2006 season, one thing that is certain was the youth of the unit.

Of the 22 players on UK's two-deep defensive depth chart, 16 were freshmen or sophomores. An examination of the Southeastern Conference's depth charts showed that was the highest number in the league, with Vanderbilt and South Carolina coming in next with 13 players in that category. Here is a list of each team and the number of freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep depth chart:

Kentucky 16
Vanderbilt 13
South Carolina 13
Ole Miss 12
Mississippi State 11
Auburn 11
Georgia 10
LSU 10
Tennessee 10
Arkansas 9
Alabama 7
Florida 7

It's interesting to note that the three SEC teams that were not bowl-eligible (Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State) ranked in the top five in the league for most young defenders while Arkansas and Florida, the participants in the SEC Championship Game, were in the bottom three in this statistic.

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