"The key will be if Shane can throw as accurate as he needs to. He has as strong an arm as Jared and actually has a little better grasp of the offense than Jared did a year ago. He's just been waiting in the wings for his chance to star."
* Running back Arliss Beach.
"He's ready for a breakout year," Brooks said.
Beach gained 366 yards on 103 carries last year and is UK's leading returning rusher. However, Brooks noted he's increased his weight from 208 pounds to 200 and consistently ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds during the offseason.
"He's also accepted the role of leadership in a way he has not before," Brooks said.
He also said backup tailback Draak Davis, a junior college transfer last year, is "bigger and more physical" than when he wore down last season and will provide an "effective" change of pace.
* Offensive line.
"I really think you are going to see better line play even though we have less experience. Our line came off the ball better in the spring than it did last year," Brooks said. "That's why I think the line play will be better. I just hope I don't have to eat those words."
Even without Abney, Brooks expect major improvement here because he has bigger receivers and says this is the most talented, competitive position on the team.
He said sophomore Keenan Burton was a "rising star" and that Glenn Holt Jr. had added 12 to 15 pounds since last year and was more physical. Junior college transfer Scott Mitchell has the "big-play potential" Brooks wants and he expects redshirt freshman John Logan to be one of the SEC's fastest players.
"Jacob (Tamme) is not a speed guy, but he's a possession receiver and is one the most sure-handed receivers I've ever been around," said Brooks, a former NFL head coach. "He really matches up well with cornerbacks."
True freshmen Lionell Dewalt and Richard Lyons also figure in his plans.
"Dewalt is 6-6, 215 (pounds) and runs under 4.6 (in the 40) and catches everything," Brooks said. "Lyons is a 190-pound Derek Abney and can run as fast or faster."
* Tight end.
After having only one healthy tight end (Jeremiah Drobney) by the end of last year, Brooks expects to go into the season with at least four players capable of playing at this position.
"Having more players is going to make a huge difference in our offense," Brooks said. "We were really limited at tight end last year. Now we have four we can rotate and feel comfortable. We couldn't do that last year."
Brooks knows his optimism probably won't be shared by many others today when he speaks at the Southeastern Conference media days.
"I know we still have a lot of things to prove to people. Last year was very disappointing for me, but we think we are going the right way even if a lot of others probably don't," Brooks said.