DC Brad White Knows Bush Hamdan’s Offense Will Challenge Defenses

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New offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan has made a believer out of coach Mark Stoops and quarterback Brock Vandagriff. (UK Athletics Photo)

Mark Stoops obviously thought he made the right choice when he hired Bush Hamdan as offensive coordinator after Liam Coen left UK for a second time to work in the NFL. However, if Stoops did have any doubts, they certainly went away after UK’s first spring practice session.

“Those pro elements are in there, but he has been in college,” Stoops said when asked about Hamdan for the first time since he hired him. “He’s gone through that with the way to expedite the play calls, the way to get plays off quicker and still have the creativity of what we want to be able to run and play-action pass.

“I think it’s important to keep that balance. With me, I’ve said it for, what, 12 years now: It starts with being physical and being able to run the ball. I don’t think that’s much different in the NFL. Certainly there are teams that throw the ball exceptionally well with very dynamic players and may be better at one or the other, but I think for us and you look at the top of college football, there’s usually very good balance.”

Stoops emphasized again the importance of Kentucky playing at a faster pace offensively than it did last season when it was one of the slowest teams in the country snapping the ball. That resulted in UK running less plays than almost every team in the country.

Stoops said he was pleased with the way Hamdan has quickly connected with UK’s players, using winter meetings and walkthroughs to start spring practice on the right foot. Throughout his 20-minute news conference, Stoops stressed the importance of streamlining UK’s offensive play-calling process in order to operate with a faster tempo and run more plays per game.

Defensive coordinator Brad White says Hamdan’s offense is a “challenge” for defenses.

“It stresses your rules. It is great for our old guys so they don’t get bored. It’s real hard for our young guys. iI is going to make us better as a defense. I think it has a high upside,” White said.

Quarterback Brock Vandagriff, a Georgia transfer, is expected to be UK’s starting quarterback. He thought he would be playing for Coen when he came to Kentucky. However, he did not contemplate leaving when Coen did and likes what he has seen from Hamdan.

“It has been fine. I have enjoyed coach Hamdan and his system. Everybody is picking it up really well,” Vandagriff said. “Just listening to the coaches and that selfless culture that was instilled before I got here. Everyone is playing for that dude beside them.

“I didn’t see coming here as a challenge because we have some guys up front that are game changers. When your OL (offensive line) is nicknamed the Big Blue Wall, that is cool. Our wideout room can flat go get it. The selfless culture here is something I was intrigued by and wanted to be part of the roster here and a coordinator change did not impact that feeling.”

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