After two days of spring practice, Shannon Dawson was asked about potential playmakers on Kentucky's offense.
"I would say the playmakers right now are probably on the other side of the ball," the new offensive coordinator said.
It's about baby steps. It's hard to play fast and loose or aggressively and effectively when you're still learning the plays.
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Yes, the scheme at Kentucky is similar, but the jargon is not.
"It's like if I told you to learn Spanish in two days," Dawson told reporters on Monday morning. "That'd be tough, right?"
It's been difficult for the Kentucky players, too.
They are competing for spots, trying to impress their new boss, but that's tough to do while studying the employee handbook.
"Right now they're just trying to learn, compete and put the ball in play really, because the communication is really the hurdle we're trying to get over, just the way we communicate," Dawson said.
The Air Raid scheme looks familiar to UK's offensive players, but it's different on paper.
And that's led to a lot of miscommunication for the UK offense, including quarterbacks Patrick Towles and Drew Barker, who ran with the first unit at practice on Monday.
"You've got the quarterback flashing signals quickly to the receiver and the receiver not getting it, which is typical," Dawson explained. "Frustrating for me, but typical. So, it's nothing out of the ordinary: just the fact that you've got to be able to communicate before you can execute."
It's similar to what Kentucky has been running and the install on Dawson's version takes just three days, same as the offense run by Neal Brown.
"All these guys, they fell out of the same tree," Coach Mark Stoops quipped of the Air Raid style.
But getting the nuances of the offense and learning how to discuss it has been the challenge.
That part is going to take far longer than three days, but "hopefully, will be simpler in certain ways once we pick it up," Stoops added.
Each position coach is doing his best to dumb it down for his guys. For instance, on the offensive line, once Towles or Barker gives the signal, the line is using the same language to communicate it within their group that it used last season.
"That's one thing as a coach, we can help the players by using some of the communication we've used in the past so we don't have to change everything up," offensive line coach John Schlarman said.
So once the translation between quarterback and line is figured out, it will be simpler for all involved.
On Monday at practice, there were pre-snap penalties and other things that need to get cleaned up, not just for the offensive line, but all involved.
"We jumped offsides two or three times today, which is not going to — we're not going to tolerate that," Dawson said. "Stuff like that."
But the coaches said they are seeing steady improvement as each position group learns the new language.
"The verbiage he's using is different than what we used last year, so we just have to get that squared away in our minds," Schlarman said. "We didn't have nearly as many mistakes on day two as day one, so that was good to see. We just have to continue to improve on that."
Special visitors to pro day
When Kentucky's seniors hit the field for the team's annual Pro Day on Thursday, they might have the eyes of a few NFL head coaches on them.
Stoops said it was his understanding that Dupree will be participating in Pro Day and that some head coaches will be there to see the defensive end/linebacker work out.
"He's getting a lot of attention and deservedly so," Stoops said of Dupree, who put up some eye-popping numbers at the NFL Combine in February, including finishing first among linebackers and third overall in broad jump (11 feet, 6 inches), second among linebackers in vertical leap (42 inches) and third in his position group in the 40-yard dash (4.56 seconds).
Nearly every major mock NFL Draft has the former UK star going in the first round. He would be the first Cats player to do that since 2003 when defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson went fourth to the Jets.