"You always hate to see a guy like Mike leave. He was not only a good coach, but he was a good friend," Brown, who came to UK with Brooks four years ago, said. "You always sit in the back seat and think what you would do if you were driving. Now I'm nervous.
"I've got good assistant coaches. I will lean on them. One of the great defensive minds in the country is our head coach. I will pick his brain and want him looking over my shoulder. One thing that has stopped this team from competing for a Southeastern Conference championship is not having a dominant defense."
Brooks recruited Brown to play for him at Oregon from 1979-82 where he was a defensive back and kick returner. He earned All-Pac 10 honors each year.
He played eight years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers before Brooks gave him his first coaching job with the St. Louis Rams when Brooks was the head coach. He was on the coaching staff when the Rams won the 2000 Super Bowl.
Brown coached on Dick Vermeil's staff. New Alabama coach Nick Saban was his position coach two years at Houston. Greg Williams, the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, was at Houston when Brown played. Bud Carson, a long-time successful NFL defensive coach, worked on the Rams' staff with Brown.
"I try to learn everything I can from everyone, both the good and bad," Brown said.
"He has worked under a lot of good coaches and got different defensive packages. He had the opportunity here with coach Archer to have a lot of input on the game plan and learn the college game," Brooks said.
Brown says not to expect significant changes scheme-wise next year from his defense. He will expect his players to play with passion and won't hesitate to blitz extra defenders if necessary.
"I think you will see a faster, more aggressive defense," he said. "You will see players with a year under their belt and with that knowledge will come less hesitancy."
He wants the Kentucky defense to play with the same tenacity it did in its final two games last year against Tennessee and Clemson.
The Wildcats allowed 28.4 points per game last year, but did force 32 fumbles and interceptions to help UK rank second nationally in turnover margin at plus 15. Kentucky had the SEC's youngest defense with 16 freshmen and sophomores among the 22 players on the two-deep depth chart.
Kentucky will return eight starters next season, including linebacker Wesley Woodyard and freshman cornerback Trevard Lindley.
Brown says he doesn't really have a major worry about the defense going into spring practice.
"With the way we started to play and prepare and younger players I see that were redshirted, I don't have any major concerns," Brown said. "I just want to make sure they go to class and do the right things so there will not be any concerns."