UK football notes: Neal Brown explains how Cats will evaluate three QBs at once

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2013 

LOUISVILLE — There were countless cute quips and quotes from Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops and his staff at Friday's Greater Louisville Alumni Club Wildcat Kickoff Luncheon.

But there also were a few interesting insights afterward from UK's coordinators, who spoke with the media briefly after their question-and-answer session in front of more than 815 of their closest blue-clad friends.

Even though fall camp doesn't start until Aug. 4, offensive coordinator Neal Brown started to outline how the three-way quarterback competition will go.

"We're going to do it a little bit different," Brown explained when asked how UK could get enough quality repetitions for sophomores Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow.

"That's the single biggest issue or factor when you're going through a quarterback competition," Brown said. "So what we're going to do is called a two-spot, where we'll split up and have three different units, so maybe where the one-on-one offense is going at the same time as the two offense is going against the two defense, so you can get more quarterback reps."

Brown said the idea to be "creative with how we form practice" actually came in part from Stoops, who saw a similar situation when he was at Florida State.

When the offensive coordinator was asked about the time frame he wants to make the decision — he's said previously he'd like to name a starter two weeks into fall camp — as to which factors will be used, he deferred to Stoops.

"Well, I won't speak out of turn; it will ultimately be Coach Stoops' decision," he said.

Stoops smiled and pointed toward Brown, indicating from whom the decision would mostly come. Brown suggested some factors that could help make the decision: "They've gotta have great leadership skills, which I think all three of them do," he said.

"It's a little bit different when it's just one of them that has to be the leader on offense. But leadership skills, (and) they have to be productive; they have to score. And I think they have to be really accurate passing."

The offensive coordinator said he was excited to read in some of the stories out of Southeastern Conference Media Days that a key defensive leader, Avery Williamson, had noted that Towles, Smith and Whitlow had gone about the competition the right way this summer: "All three of them competing and to say all three of them as a whole are putting the team first, I thought that was huge," Brown said.

After not being able to work with the team's quarterbacks this summer, Brown said he was excited to see how they've developed since his time with them in the spring.

He said he'd be happy if one of the players convinced him in less time than two weeks.

"We're not going to put any time frames on it," he said. "I'd love to see one of the quarterbacks come out and jump up and make it a clear-cut decision. Will that happen? I don't know. When the timing's right, we'll make the call."

A swing city?

The 815 Jefferson County alumni at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville was nearly double the 450 reported there last year. In fact, some people without tickets had to be turned away.

Stoops, Brown and UK defense coordinator D.J. Eliot indicated they like the idea of having UK be a player in the city of Sugar Bowl champion Louisville. The city is an important place to UK, Brown said.

"There's a lot of good high school football being played in this city. This is the biggest media market," he said. "We want to make our presence (known); obviously, we've got a rival here. We want to get in this area and make some noise."

McWilson and Blue headed to campus

At Southeastern Conference Media Days last week, Stoops said there were still some academic eligibility hurdles to clear for junior-college wide receiver Javess Blue and true freshman safety Marcus McWilson.

Both seemed to indicate via Twitter on Friday that they will be arriving on campus next week. Safety and wide receiver are two positions where UK is lacking depth.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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