UK coaches grateful for head start with 8 extra hours a week in summer

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 15, 2014 

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Eight hours a week seems like a small amount of time, but Kentucky's coordinators are hopeful that those extra minutes will be a big benefit to their inexperienced team.

An amended NCAA bylaw allows for coaches to require players to participate in eight hours of work per week for eight weeks during the summer, which for UK has meant more instruction and teaching time.

"The extra hours have been huge — hugely beneficial — especially I think where we really utilized them was early when our kids first got here, especially the newcomers," offensive coordinator Neal Brown told the Herald-Leader. "We were able to actually teach stuff."

Under the previous guidelines, all organized team workouts in the summer were supposed to be voluntary. Coaches weren't allowed to put together an activity, watch workouts or have contact with players during specific times in the summer.

It used to be coaches would try to distribute as many teaching tools as possible: playbook, installation videos and other things, but help wasn't supposed to extend beyond that.

But now it can be more than "here's some info, see you in a couple of months." Coaches can meet with players.

"Basically what we did was for the first couple weeks of the summer ... and before we went on vacation, we got them in and did some meeting time, not a ton, but a little bit and a little bit of field work and kind of got them set up for really the three weeks they could go on their own," Brown said.

Once UK got into summer seven-on-sevens, the players had "a much better working knowledge of what needed to be done," Brown said.

Kentucky will install its entire offense — which usually eats up three full days to start fall camp — in the extra time allotted.

"We're going to have a big head start, so there's going to be less teaching and fewer mistakes as we get into the early part of the camp," Brown said.

It's the same on the other side of the ball, too.

D.J. Eliot said it's nice to be able to call individual meetings with players or position groups and discuss extra information in the summer. The defense will be doing most of its install work early as well.

"That will help us with assignment tremendously, with guys knowing what they're supposed to do, where they're supposed to be," UK's defensive coordinator explained.

But the coaches said they've been wary of piling too much on in the summer, which already includes classes and heavy workouts with the strength and conditioning staff.

"I thought we needed to be really careful and Coach (Mark) Stoops agreed," Brown said. "We need to be really careful because you can burn them out over the summer if you're doing too much."

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

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