UK Football

Tired of talk, ready for Hawks

By the end of last week it became clear that Rich Brooks had hit the wall.

Not from a coaching standpoint, but from answering the same questions over and over.

How was practice, Rich? How's the team looking, Rich? Is this unit better than last year? Is that unit better than last year?

Brooks continued to answer questions in a cordial manner on a daily basis, but you could tell it was wearing on him.

Finally, after a horde of media reporters started to break up after post-practice interviews last week, he admitted the truth.

"I'm tired of answering questions," he said. "I'm ready to go play."

Much to Brooks' delight, game week is finally here. The Wildcats will kick off the 2009 season against Miami University on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

Brooks has always been a straight-shooter when asked to assess his team, and he believes the Cats will be improved in 2009. But until the ball is kicked off, there's always that uncertainty.

"I know we're a better team than we were last year, the same thing I've said since the start of fall camp," Brooks said. "But what I say and what we do on the field are two different things. We have to go out on the field and prove that."

The Cats began classes last Wednesday and completed their final scrimmage on Saturday. They had a light workout in helmets and shorts on Sunday and will take Monday off before returning to the practice field Tuesday. The coaches used the scrimmages not only to make final depth-chart evaluations, but also sprinkled in some game planning for Miami.

The UK coaching staff actually first started preparations for the RedHawks in the summer. Problem was, there was no real blueprint on Miami's Michael Haywood because he's a first-time head coach.

Defensive coordinator Steve Brown spent much of the off-season watching tape of Notre Dame, where Haywood was the offensive coordinator last year. They've also dusted off tapes of Texas, where Miami defensive coordinator Carl Reese held the same post from 1998-2003, and Duke, which was Miami offensive coordinator Peter Vaas' last stop in 2007.

So the UK coaches have had to go in several different directions in putting together their game plan, and Brooks himself admits he really has no idea what he'll see from Miami on Saturday.

"We're going into this thing guessing," Brooks said.

The Cats also go into the week with some injury concerns. Senior middle linebacker Micah Johnson sprained his foot last week, and Brooks said he'll have to wait and see how that responds in the next few days. Several other players were nicked up in the scrimmage, but Brooks didn't appear overly concerned about those injuries.

"We got more bumps and bruises (in the scrimmage) and the next 48 hours or so will tell if any of them are serious or not," Brooks said. "We don't believe any of them are at this point. The good news is we have a light practice tomorrow, and a day off on Monday. We'll have time not only to get through those bumps and bruises but to get hopefully some of the guys back who were missing from the scrimmage."