Live chat with the defensive coordinator took place June 8
Timothy O'Dea : Hi coach! Can you tell us what you and the rest of the coaching staff hopes to see out of our defense this year that we did not see last year. It was clear that we improved in that area tremendously as the season progressed. Thanks for all the work you have done with our guys! Go Cats!
Mike Archer : Our staff this year hopes that we continue to make progress as we did last year and to continue to build a stronger defense here at UK. We still have a long ways to go to be able to compete week in and week out in this league, but I think that these players have a higher self esteem now than they've had in recent years. And we hope to build on that.
J.K. : Hey Coach, do you think that the experience we have on defense this year is good enough to compete with other defensive powerhouses such as Georgia and Tennessee? Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. Go Cats!
Mike Archer : Obviously we do have a lot of experience coming back on defense and our depth should be much improved. We are still a long ways from being a powerhouse such as Tennessee, Georgia and LSU. The only way to improve is to continue to work hard in recruiting and get the type of players that it takes to win with defense in this league.
: in facing an explosive attack like Louisville,do you play a 4-2-5 or do you gamble more with blitzes. I feel like the players have adjusted to the 3-4 and the secondary should be a strength. Please come down and recruit here in Texas. Wishing you the best Robert Wolf
Mike Archer : Obviously Louisville is extremely talented and will cause us a lot of problems. They are extremely talented at running back, wide receiver, quarterback and their offensive line. They are very balanced in running and throwing the football and this is the hardest thing as a coordinator to defend - balance. We are a pressure defense and we will pick our spots and times to blitz based on how things are going in the course of the game. With the blitz, you live by the blitz and you can die by the blitz. And in last year's game, Louisville made some big plays versus some of our blitz packages.
Ashley : What are you expecting from the class of 2004?
Mike Archer : Each one of the players in this freshman class will be given an opportunity in fall camp to play for us this year. How much will be determined by how much they can learn mentally and how far along they are physically to play in a very physical conference. There are some individuals in particular in our secondary who we are counting on giving us depth and position competition.
blue2bayou : Are the defensive players capable of having sufficient talent and depth to compete in the SEC now without having to play true freshmen this year?
Mike Archer : At this time, we feel like we will have to play some of our freshmen football players. If you recruit outstanding players, as we feel we did this year, then you hope that these players are going to make you a better football team and eventually become starters late in their freshman year. If this holds true, then you've done a good job in recruiting. We would hope in time to be able to redshirt most of our down linemen and play our skill players such as safeties and corners.
Joe from the ville : Coach Archer what type of players are our seniors in the secondary: Mike Williams and Earven Flowers? Are they flying under the next level radar such as past player such as Erick Kelly?
Mike Archer : Mike and Earven both played very well for us last year. They both have outstanding leadership qualities. Their future as far as the next level will be determined by the way they perform this year. Hopefully if they continue to improve, then they will have that opportunity to play on Sundays in the NFL.
cat fan 1 : what do you for see to be the most improved aspect of the defensive unit?
Mike Archer : Our defensive line I think will be a unit that will have depth as well as talent. Vincent Burns, Trey Mielsch and Lamar Mills all have started games here at UK. We feel like we will be able to roll in players like Ricky Abren, Ellery Moore and others to keep our players fresh, which will help us in the fourth quarter, where most games are won or lost here in the SEC.
cat fan 1 : What player has been the bigest suprise, and how is our depth on the defense compared to lasts years defensive unit?
Mike Archer : Coming out of spring football, the two biggest surprises were inside linebacker Dennis Johnson and corner Karl Booker. I feel like our depth will be much better this year than last because of the number of players that played for us in 2003.
Georgia Wildcat : Would you consider staying at UK long enough to take over after Coach Brooks retires? I think you would be a great head coach for UK.
Mike Archer : I plan on staying here at UK for a long time. It's going to take time to build this program back up to a level to be competitive and win in this league, and I hope that I can be a big part of it as an assistant coach. And if things work out that after Coach Brooks decides to retire, then I would certainly enjoy the opportunity to be the head coach here. Thank you.
Georgia Wildcat : Will we be able to get more pressure on the QB this year?
Mike Archer : I hope that we can continue to get more pressure on the quarterback this year. I felt last year we made gigantic strides with our blitz package and we were second in the SEC in sacks during the regular season. This offseason I'm sure people have studied the 3-4 and our tendencies so therefore, as a defensive staff, we have to make adjustments to continue to be able to put pressure on the QB.
John (Lexington) : What is the current status of Deion Holts and how much will you miss his attitude he brought with him on the field? I think the national media and the SEC still has failed to see the true potential of this defense and if we show up consistently for every game with emotion, execution, and intensity...this unit is definitely going to raise some eyebrows and put us in a position to win quite a few ballgames. Good luck Coach and BEAT THE CARDS!!!
Mike Archer : Deion is no longer on our football team, and we wish him well whereever he decides to continue his football career. We will miss his attitude, but as in sports, we have to move on and someone else has to step up and take his place.
Van Hiles : Do you think you will have enough athletes at linebacker to be able to run your 3-4 scheme effectively this year?
Mike Archer : Absolutely. I feel even stronger about the ability of our athletes to perform within the structure of this defense. This defense is a lot of fun to play in because of the different things that we do both in coverage and our pressure package. We have begun and will continue to recruit athletes who can run and make plays to win games. This will go a long ways in helping us win football games here at UK.
Scott Reynolds : Do you have an aspiration to again become a head coach on either the college or professional level?
Mike Archer : Yes, one reason I decided to get back into college football was the opportunity to again become a head coach. The time structure of the NFL does not allow assistant coaches in the NFL many opportunities to become head coaches in college because of the length of the NFL regular season, which many times does not end until mid-January. Most colleges want to have their new head coach in place by December 1st. During my time in Pittsburgh I had a number of opportunities to get back into college, but because of my obligation to the Steeler organization and our goal of winning the Super Bowl, it is very difficult to pursue college jobs.
Scott Reynolds : If the defense entered a season short on linemen, would you change the system to a 4-3 alignment or would you convert a linebacker to a down lineman position and keep the 3-4?
Mike Archer : Yes we would. In fact, last year we played a lot of true 4-3 defense with four down linemen. The Ohio game was the first of many that we played that particular package. We continued to do it the rest of the year based on injuries and depth concerns that we had at outside linebacker. We will continue to work in practice on our 4-3 package and will use it in 2004.
Jason Davis : Coach Archer, the defense was incredible last season, coming up with major interceptions and stops in close games. How important will the defense be in a season where the team looks to overcome a dismal 4-8 season and how much will the defense depend on the offensive scheme of the team this season?
Mike Archer : Thank you. We hope to continue to improve on defense because I feel that championship football teams are led by their defense. If you look at the successful teams in college and professional football the last few years their success usually is tied in to a dominating defense. We hope to become a much better defense this year and continue to get better each and every year.
Tunch : Coach, you have been around the 3-4 defense for a while. What part of the 3-4 defense is most effective in causing problems for the opposition?
Mike Archer : The multiplicity of disguising your blitzes and pass rushers is in my opinion the best thing that this defense does. Offenses really do not know by pre-snap alignment which of your four linebackers or any of your secondary players are rushing. Having just one week to prepare for a lot of different looks that we give people is tough.
Tunch : What was Coach Cowher like?
Mike Archer : Coach Cowher is a tremendous football coach. I've been fortunate to have worked for people like Lou Saban, Howard Schnellenberger and Bill Arnsbarger and Coach Cowher is as good as any of them. His knowledge of the game both on offense and defense is tremendous. He has a great ability to motivate football players and allow them to grow as people and help win championships.
ukathletics.com : We'd like to thank Coach Archer for joining us today. Next week Coach Brooks will join us to wrap up the spring live chat schedule.
Mike Archer : For all you fans, thank you for all the great support you've given us through the many years at UK. We hope to see you in Commonwealth this fall. Go Cats!