LEXINGTON — Changing defensive coordinators has not only required University of Kentucky players to adjust to Rick Minter’s philosophy and style, but it also created a transition period for linebackers coach Chuck Smith.
“It is an issue. It is a lot of different language. People call things differently,” said Smith. “Coach Minter has got his own language for the scheme he has. I had to learn, and the rest of the coaches did, his terminology and his language. It is a little different, as everybody’s is. That’s not an unusual thing.
“It’s just like learning Spanish, Chinese or another language. You have to learn it and once you learn the language, football is football. It all starts coming together, but there is an adjustment period there.”
Minter actually took over for Steve Brown, who is now listed as the co-defensive coordinator in charge of the secondary, before UK played in the BBVA Compass Bowl in January and lost to Pittsburgh. However, Smith senses the defense, which returned 10 starters, is much more comfortable with Minter now than it was in January.
“He installed a new defense and it was different from what some of these guys have heard for the last two or three years. They didn’t really understand all of the language and the terminology in the bowl game,” Smith said. “Now they have gone through spring ball for 15 practices and they have gone through the summer where coach Minter has made voice-overs for the film and they are hearing it over and over again. I think coming into the fall they are going to feel a lot more comfortable with the terminology and the defensive scheme that we are going to install.”
Minter seems comfortable with having Smith, a former UK¿player who led Boyle County to five straight state titles and six consecutive title game appearances, on his staff.
“Chuck is another one of those guys you like having on your staff because of his background and love of the university. I think everybody on our staff has a certain role,” Minter said. “When you are forming a staff of nine, you don't need nine chiefs or nine braves. You have to have roles and every role needs to be defined.
“I think part of Chuck's role is to be the liaison and the face for Kentucky high school football coaches. He is the guy they will say is a friend of ours and a cohort and a Wildcat and he is not going anywhere. In reality, you would like to think he is not going anywhere and that's a comfort for (head coach) Joker (Phillips) to have a guy on there who much like he took the path of going to play for UK, Chuck chose the path to play for UK.
“Chuck is a solid guy who is not necessarily wanting to jump out and be the coordinator out front and not jump out and be the head coach. There is a role to be a great linebacker coach, be a great recruiter and be a great face of relations with the alums. He knows so many of those guys, too. I have been amazed when he gets around the alums and high school coaches. He is a friendly face and Chuck is a friendly guy. His personality is more outreaching and I think that is a good guy to have on the staff and he brings a lot to our table and will for Kentucky for many, many years.”
Smith has learned to appreciate what Minter, a former head coach at Cincinnati and defensive coordinator at several other schools, brings to the Wildcats, too.
“He really is passionate about his defense, too. He knows this scheme like the back of his hand, and he is a linebacker coach by trade,” Smith said. “That has been his deal. I am learning a lot every day.
“Sometimes we split them up and I would take the two outside linebackers and he would take the two inside linebackers. Or another day I would take the two inside and he would take the two outside. We kind of split them up and get a chance to really coach. There are four guys now technically (at linebacker) that we are coaching. It is hard for one guy to do that. Structurally, a lot of programs have one inside linebacker coach and I one outside. I am responsible for all four, but he is obviously helping and we are trading out what we do and I’m learning a lot from him.”