Football Spring Practice Press Conference

March 31, 2009

Kentucky Head Coach Rich Brooks

On entering spring practice…
“I'm looking forward to getting on the field again. It has been an offseason of hard work in the weight room and cardiovascular area. We have a few players that are obviously limited to start, but I am anxious to see the development of some of the players I started to see develop in December bowl preparation. We are looking forward to another productive year, and this is a very important time for us to identify who will be a part of that process.”

On Kentucky's injuries…
“(Tailback) Derrick Locke will probably do some running and drills in shorts throughout spring ball. Obviously, he will not be in full contact. (Offensive tackle) Justin Jeffries will do a lot of individual drills with no contact, coming off of his shoulder surgery after the bowl game. Randall Cobb will practice primarily at receiver, taking some reps at quarterback. He will be cleared for full-go, and he is full-go non-contact right now. He will probably not have contact the first two, three or four days we have contact. We want to ease him into it.”

On filling positions and development…
“This time is critically important, not only for the players who haven't played a lot, but also for the ones who did play a lot last year. They need to reestablish the fact that they are number one at their position. Although we start with a first team, second team and third team, it is a wide-open competition at every position. That is the only way you can get better. If people rest on their laurels, they will not improve that much. I'm anxious to not only see the younger players, but the returning starters as well, and how much they have improved and what level they want to take their game to this year.”

On keeping the team hungry after three consecutive bowl wins…
“I'm not concerned about that at all, because in my mind, we have not even scratched the surface of where we want to go as a football team. We certainly have established a base. It's like being a mountain climber and getting to base camp, then going to the next camp, and the next camp, and trying to get to the summit. We have certainly established a higher base camp than Kentucky has had in a three-year period in many years. But, that is not where we want to be, because we want to be at the summit. We have a long way to go, and I know that I am disappointed at last year's season. I think a lot of our players were too. But, I did like the last 30 minutes of last year. Having said that, we have a lot of work to do, a lot of mountains to climb, and a lot of camps to obtain before we get to the summit.”

On going to the SEC Championship…
“That is the goal, and that has always been the goal. It has become more in sight than it was three, four, five, and six years ago. We have established that we can compete with the best teams in the country, now we need to show that we can consistently beat the best teams in the country. We all know where a lot of those teams are, and they happen to be in our league, and particularly in the SEC East.”

On the offense…
“I want to see a smooth and functioning unit. One, that in seven-on-seven drills, doesn't let the ball touch the ground, and catches the ball on a regular basis when it is thrown. Randall Cobb's addition to the receiving corps will enhance that competition and give us a big-time playmaker.”

On gaining off-season experience for the true freshmen…
“Not only have they not been through a spring practice, they have not been through an off-season program. (At times) You have to put people on the field a little bit before they are mentally and physically ready. That was the case last year at the receiver position. Certainly, they will be much better prepared having gone through that experience, they will know what to expect, and we will see marked improvement from some of those players.”

On Kentucky's experience…
“Offensively, this team is a lot more experienced than last year's team, but not as experienced as they were two years ago. Defensively, we are probably above the curve in experience with returning players. We did lose some very key starters, but I think we have people who are capable of stepping in and replacing them. For example, Sam Maxwell has been a really good linebacker, but he hasn't started, because he had really good starters ahead of him. Now, he is going to be a full-time starter. I'm not worried about him because I know he can play SEC football, and play at a high level in the SEC. There are more of those situations where people have been waiting in the wings. (Cornerback) Randall Burden was a redshirt freshman last year, but three years ago he would have been playing and starting as a redshirt freshman. But, he was in the background and didn't play a lot. He was called upon in the second half of the Liberty Bowl, stepped up and had a big-time game. He helped us win that game. You will see a lot more of those people coming forward who haven't been forced onto the field too early, because they have had good players ahead of them.”

On Zipp Duncan…
“When we were originally thinking about moving Zipp (Duncan) into the line from tight end and defensive end, we were initially thinking tackle. But, we felt that we were better off there and we moved him into guard because we needed more immediate help. He was undersized, but he was athletic and competitive. This is something I hope will work and we will see as we go through. I believe it will and he certainly has the athletic ability and talent to be an outstanding left tackle. He has competed every day in practice for the last two years against Myron Pryor and Corey Peters. In one sense, he might be relieved to get out on the edge where is not going to face the size and explosive power of the inside players in this game. He was always outweighed and in the tackle position, he won't be outweighed very often.”

On Randall Cobb…
“In my mind, Randall Cobb's long-term future is at the receiver position. That means we might use him at quarterback (occasionally) next year, and as I mentioned, he will practice there some this year. We will have a more refined package there than we gave him last year. By having him work at both positions, but primarily at receiver, we will best utilize his talents and abilities, and enhance our ability to win. His practice will also include the punt-return game.”

Kentucky Players

Zipp Duncan

On if his athleticism basketball background will help him in the transition to tackle…
“Definitely, it is like man-to-man defense out there, you just want to keep them away (from the quarterback). Like I said, a lot of it goes back to fundamentals and trying to use your athletic ability the best you can. For me it's really going to be learning, trying to get the technique down and trying to help our team in any way I can.”

On what has been going on during the off-season…
“Guys are motivated and working hard and that's all you can ask for. As seniors, we're just trying to push guys and get them ready to focus on the goal of getting back to another bowl game. We've had a great group of seniors the last three years lead the team to a bowl game and we're trying to do the same thing.”

On how he has adjusted playing different positions on the line…
“It's a gradual process. I feel like the coaches have confidence in me to do the job, because otherwise they wouldn't have asked, so I am just going to try to take their coaching and play to the best of my ability. I think I am a good fit out there and that's what I can do to help this team win.”

On how the offensive line shapes up this season…
“I'm definitely anxious to see. I feel like we have a lot of guys that played and contributed last year. That's just going to make everyone better. Our coaches are big on proving yourself to try to get the five best guys on the field. We're a unit; we're going to work hard and we're going to push each other. We should put out a pretty good product.”

Trevard Lindley

On what it's like to be back for spring football…
“It feels pretty good to be back for my senior year. I'm excited to go out and keep doing what I have been doing the past three years and keep it up and get better. ”

On how close he was to leaving…
“I wasn't too close because I had gotten hurt. If I would have stayed healthy it would have made the decision that much harder. “

On what he's done to get himself healthy again…
“I've been working out my shoulder and my elbow every day. I've been lifting more and eating better. “

On what he's going to do this year to be better…
“I've improved each year I've player so I'm just going to keep doing what I've done the past three years.”

Sam Maxwell

On his thoughts on the upcoming season…
“I think we'll have a pretty good season. We have a few good prospects coming in at receiver and on offense. We also have a lot of good defensive players coming in, and a lot of players stepping up like me. We have a lot to prove out here. Most of the upperclassmen are already talking about getting with the young guys early and start working with them to get them up to tempo so we're all on the same page.”

On his role on this year's team…
“I really want to embrace doing more this year. I felt like I could have done a lot more last year but the coaches told me they were going to be putting me in a position to be that guy this year. We talk to Braxton (Kelley) and Johnny Williams and try to learn from them. We still watch film with those guys. You never can stop watching film. You have to know what you are doing out there. Basically, for myself, I know I have to step up a lot. This year the spotlight is on me and Micah Johnson, the only experienced guys we have at linebacker. Hopefully, all of my training and what I have learned from guys like Johnny Williams pays off.”

On continuing the winning tradition of the past three years at UK…
“It means a lot. Most guys out of high school come from a winning program. I know coming to college that's what you want to do. We're trying to get accustomed to it, to get a taste of that victory. It's an acquired taste and you don't want to lose it. Everybody out there is competitive. You don't want to go out to practice every day and then lose a game. You want to win and show that your preparation has paid off.”

Corey Peters

On what the team is focused on during spring ball…
“I think that our focus is different (than last year). Last year our offense was struggling and I can see a complete difference in those guys' attitudes. As far as defense, we can't just rest. In my opinion, we could have been a lot better. That comes with being more mature and knowing what you have to do as far as the mental game. A lot of mistakes we made last year were mental mistakes.”

On how the defense is learning to become better…
“When you go into a game, I think that everybody has to take the attitude that no matter what happens, where we start off or what just happened, we want to get off the field in a three-and-out. At times last year, the Florida game is a prime example, you get the first two series under your belt starting inside the five-yard-line and they score two quick touchdowns. After that point of the game everyone's head was out of it and we can't do that. We have to get back to the attitude that no matter what happens, as a defense we need to get off of the field in three plays.”

On the difference he has seen in the offense since last season…
“I think that the leadership is good. I think Randall (Cobb) has done a great job. I've never really seen a young guy come in and have so much respect as far as his peers are concerned. He has done that through his hard work and showing everybody that he is committed to this. Mike Hartline has a done a good job trying to organize people to get them throwing out there every day. I think that's extremely positive that they are taking the initiative, doing it without someone on their back, and trying to get better.”

Alfonso Smith

On leadership roles…
“The coaches mention it at times, but we actually take it upon ourselves because we know if we don't lead the way, our team is going to be mediocre. We try to really do our best and lead by example which is what we've been doing.”

On if there's more confidence heading into this spring as opposed to last spring after not losing a lot of offense…
“I think it's a good thing that we didn't lose too much from offense. It seems like we're clicking a lot more and the chemistry it a lot better. I've played with [Mike] Hartline, I know what he does, I know his tendencies. It's just really all-around better and I think the offensive line is a lot better too. Those guys are really jelling together. I talk to them all the time and it just seems like a whole new team.”

On his role this year after losing Tony Dixon…
“I'm going to take on a role as a senior. I feel like I'm going to get the ball a lot more and I have to prepare for that. I'm looking to be the go-to guy and that's where I want to succeed. I want to help this team win games.”

On putting on weight…
“I put on about 10 pounds of good, lean muscle and I've kept my speed. I ran a 4.27 in front of the NFL scouts, which I feel pretty good about, and I feel pretty good about putting on the weight. I feel like that's what will keep me healthy and hopefully help keep me rolling through the 11-game stretch.”