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Coordinators seek to establish identity early

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UK coordinators Neal Brown and D.J. Eliot. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK coordinators D.J. Eliot and Neal Brown. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Possibilities abound. In fact, they sum up Kentucky's preparations for the 2013 football season.

For UK's coordinators those preparations began in earnest on Monday with the Wildcats going through Media Day before the real work began with the first practice of fall camp

With so many variables affecting a first-year staff, prioritizing becomes paramount. Both offensive coordinator Neal Brown and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot seem to agree: Establishing an identity on both sides of the ball takes precedence.

"We had 15 practices in the spring and we've got a couple of weeks here early in camp," Brown said.  "We've got to figure out who we are. Who our best 11 are and who our next best five or six are at the skill positions and then form what we're going to be around those people and their strengths."

"We're going to coach them with the expectations that they're going to be great. That's how we're going to handle them on a day-to-day basis. We want to be a great offense. Are we going to be there this afternoon? Probably not. When will it happen? I don't know. I tell them it's not if, it's when."

The approach is markedly similar on the other side of the ball. For UK's defensive chief it all starts with a select unit setting the tone for the rest of the team.

As of now that's the defensive line.

"I've coached on different teams where you had different strengths," Eliot said. "But having four good defensive linemen is important.  You don't have to cover somebody if they sack them, you know what I mean.  So it goes a long ways."

Establishing identity may start with one unit on the 2013 Wildcat defense, but as UK goes through Stoops' "process" a consistent approach across the board will become the standard. The Wildcats may lack such depth at the start of August, but ask any coach, that's what two-a-days are for.

Eliot was happy to break down where each defensive unit stands entering the fall on Monday.

"Each level, I think the defensive line, like I've mentioned before, is the furthest along right now," Eliot said. "We just need to continue to get better and continue to develop more depth there. And then at linebacker, we have got to make sure that we are not only making plays, but the linebackers are the quarterbacks of the defense, that they are making the right checks and the right adjustments. In the secondary we need to improve fundamentally."

Both coaches are implementing new systems this season so Xs and Os are still very much in the air, but even before the Wildcats have practiced in full pads this training camp, rough blueprints appear to be taking form.

If that continues to happen as Stoops, Brown and Eliot plan in 2013, the Big Blue Nation is in for an exciting time.

 "We want to be exciting," Brown said. "We want to be high-tempo. I feel like this is a blue-collar state from east to west. We want to put a product out there that resembles the people in this state. We want to play with a high-tempo, be physical and we want to get after people.

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