UK Football: Chuck Smith not focusing on low expectations for Kentucky this season
Kentucky linebacker coach Chuck Smith won¿t have, from left, Ronnie Sneed, Ridge Wilson (48) or Danny Trevathan this season, but he¿s optimistic UK can have a better season than most analysts/fans are predicting. (Clay Jackson / July 24, 2012)
However, he goes into this season with four new starters and also knowing that expectations for the team are down after consecutive losing season. Smith, who is also UK’s recruiting coordinator, admits he “kind of enjoys” the low expectations others have for the Wildcats.
“I¿never let those kind of things bother me when I was a coach at Boyle County or even at Kentucky. As a coach I know what we have to do and know what we can do,” said Smith. “That’s really all that matters and all I focus on.
“I don’t focus on what everybody says you can’t do or you are supposed to do. I¿don’t really worry too much about those things because once you start (the season), you are 24/7 and don’t have time to worry about all that other stuff.”
What about the players?
“I don’t know. They might pay more attention to it. I¿think if everybody stays focused on the task at hand, then I¿don’t how they can be worried about everything on the outside,” Smith said.
Question: Since you use the Kentucky fan support as a plus in recruiting, is this a season that the team could use even more fan support to help on the field as well as in recruiting?
Smith: “They need to keep supporting. That makes a big difference when those players come into that stadium and that fan base is up cheering. It gives them that extra motivation.¿Of course when it is not, it is a downer for them. I think that is way the fan base can participate and use what they can control to help us get over that hump and to the next level.
“Our history has been strong. Our fans love Kentucky basketball. They love Kentucky football. I just think that they get frustrated sometimes, but they don’t get any more frustrated than we do as a coaching staff. We just need to pull together and get this thing turned around.”
Question: Do true freshman Khalid Henderson or Kadeem Thomas have a chance to play this year in some role like Woodyard, Johnson, Trevathan and Kelley all did?
Smith: “Yes, but I¿think Henderson probably especially. Pancho (Thomas) I think is nursing some injuries, but I¿think Khalid has a chance. I¿have not got to see them much this summer, but just based on what I know and what I¿have heard through the strength coaches, he could have a chance.”
Question: What did you like about Henderson when he was being recruited?
Smith: “Just his explosiveness more than anything. His desire, his effort to play hard. Besides the fact that he has skills.¿He can run, he can strike. He has got great instincts. He has a chance to be a really good player.”
Question: How good offensively is Louisville going to be?
Smith: “They are a good football team, a very nice team. They have a lot of players back from last year. The quarterback is going to be even more experienced and he was pretty good last year. They are going to be a tough opening game for us.”
Question: Do you like opening with Louisville or do you prefer the years when it is the third game of the season?
Smith: “Honestly I don’t really care that much whether it is the first game or not. There will be a lot of hype around it being the first game, but both teams plenty of time to prepare. We will just have to wait and see.”
Question: Why have verbal commitments picked up so much in recent weeks to the point UK now has 10 players who say they will sign scholarships in February?
Smith: “It goes in seasons. First you have guys who will commit early. Then you have guys who will commit after the junior days. Then it usually shuts down for spring ball and then it picks back up in the summer because guys are visiting schools and going to camps. There will be another wave of commits. Now watch and see, it will shut down again pretty soon and then it will start back and you will get a couple more during the first couple weeks of the season and after that it will pretty much shut down until December. It is always that kind of trend.