Coach Brooks on SEC Teleconference

April 18, 2009

Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks participated on the SEC coaches teleconference on Thursday. Here are some excerpts from his comments:

Opening statement …
“We have six practices left and we'll finish with our Blue/White scrimmage a week from this Saturday. We're over halfway through and I'm pleased with the progress I've seen. Defensively, it looks like we'll be an improved team over what we were last year, which was a marked improvement for us over the previous years. Offensively, there isn't any question in my mind that we'll be better than we were last year. After losing a lot of offensive production from 2007, our 2008 team was not where it needed to be to win enough games in this league to be a major factor. We're pleased with where we are. I think that (quarterback Mike) Hartline is doing some good things. Randall Cobb returned to full contact drills yesterday. He looked very good and he's been participating full speed in everything except scrimmages until yesterday. I think that certainly we have a chance to do something that hasn't been done here in a long time, which is go to a fourth straight bowl game.”

On Vanderbilt's recent success …
“I think one of the more difficult things that has happened in this league is that Vanderbilt went to a bowl game for the first time in umpteen years. It was wonderful and the fact that they won it is even more impressive. They've been a good team, in my opinion, for three or four years. You have to look at the teams they've beaten and I think the Vanderbilt and Kentucky emergence from the historical bottom of the league to teams that can come up and knock off some of the better teams in the conference has made this conference as tough as it probably has ever been.”

On the difference from past and present NFL drafts …
“I think they put a lot more effort into the combine and pro day than they used to 30 years ago. It's just a much bigger thing. I wished some of the players that I've had getting ready for pro day had worked that hard getting ready for the season (laughs). Sometimes they take their thing to a different level, preparing better than they've ever prepared. A lot of the guys that prepare, realistically, don't even have much of a chance to make it but they all think they do.

“It's a totally different process. It used to be what you did on the field in games in where you got drafted. Now, you can improve your draft stock by bench pressing a wild number, running a really good 40, (or running) a good shuttle. Those things push people up the draft board above what they've done on the field in games. I think the draft is not an exact science. You see every year how many first-round players are busts; they don't play at the level they're expected and some of them are out of the league within three years. That's usually how long it takes to get the first-rounder out of the league because everyone keeps trying to make something out of that investment when they draft someone that high. To me, a lot of those mistakes are made on just the numbers on the workouts rather than on the production on the field.”

On what it meant to the team to have Trevard Lindley return for next season …
“I mentioned at the time that I was surprised he came back because he had a very, very high evaluation, and I really advised him that it probably would be a good thing to go because it's hard to turn down that kind of situation and money, but he elected to come back. Obviously, this is huge for our program because there's not many guys in the country, let alone in our league, that can go out and put them on an island and cover people one-on-one as well as he does and make the big-time plays -- the interceptions, the key break-ups and fumble recoveries. He just made so many huge plays for us. Also (defensive end Jeremy) Jarmon and (linebacker) Micah Johnson coming back take us from what would have been a very difficult transition year to one that should be less painful. This puts us in the position to have another outstanding defensive team.”

On Lindley's quiet personality…
“He's very quiet. He's a very bright young man, a very talented young man and he just goes about his business without a lot of bravado and chest-beating. He's been one of the more pleasurable guys to coach because you ask him to do something and he just goes out and do it. He doesn't say much about it, he doesn't complain, doesn't get all geeked up and all that, he just goes and plays.”

On his plans for quarterback …
“Based on what's here, I know what I want to do. Now, we'll look hard at our incoming players not only at quarterback but at other positions to see if that might change in the fall. Right now Hartline is the guy, with the system we run, that fits that system the best. It also makes a lot more sense, the production of Hartline at quarterback will be a lot better with Randall Cobb as receiver because he's an amazing talent. We do have a package, and we're working on it this spring, that a lot of teams are doing and it's even slipped up into the NFL. We're going to call it our Wildcat package with Cobb at quarterback in the gun (shotgun formation). If the worst scenario happened and Hartline were injured, then we would reevaluate and probably go with Randall at quarterback again, based on what we have currently on our team.”

On the new quarterbacks coming in …
“I think both (Morgan) Newton and (Ryan) Mossakowski are tremendous talents that are going to get a hard look. They both throw the ball very, very well. They probably throw it coming of high school better than anybody we've had. Morgan Newton has the added advantage of not only being a good runner and a productive runner but he's a big guy. He's already 220-plus pounds. Mossakowski, coming off of shoulder surgery, was just here this past weekend watching spring ball. He is not as strong now because he hasn't been able to lift but he's cleared to lift and he's been throwing for a couple weeks. We'll take a long, hard look at both of them and I think they fit our system about as well as you could expect. We'll see who's ready to compete or if either one of them are. I believe they will be ready to compete so we'll have to see at what level they are ready to compete.”