Football Season Coverage
By Maggie Davis on ©April 05th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
In the mood to watch some college football? The Wildcats are here to help.
The team finished their 11th practice of the spring season Friday morning, and the folks with the team’s media department were kind enough to put together this highlight tape.
The UK Football Twitter account posted the 55-second video. Check it out:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) April 4, 2019
Everything looks good on a highlight reel. Kentucky fans will have the chance to check out next season’s team in action one week from today – Friday, April 12 – during UK’s annual Blue/White Game.
With the Spring Game just one week away, Mark Stoops called into this morning’s Kentucky Sports Radio to update fans on how the football team’s doing in spring practice. Nick already shared a little bit from the interview with you earlier, but here are five more things.
1. He’s pleased with the progress in the passing game
It feels like every year, we hear the wide receivers are better only to be disappointed in the fall. Stoops insists that the passing game is making progress, and won’t just be the Lynn Bowden Show.
“I really like what we’re doing offensively. I really feel like we’re working hard to make improvements in the areas that we all know we want to make improvement in, and that’s throwing the football and getting the ball down the field a little bit. I really feel good about that. I feel like Terry’s going to make a big jump. He’s coming back after winning ten games and he’s worked extremely hard fundamentally, throwing it and just his basic fundamentals.
“Same at our receiver position. I’ve challenged those guys. We need to be better at receiver. We need to have a presence outside of Lynn Bowden. The outside receivers have got to step up. We’re pleased with what they’re doing.”
Stoops singled out Josh Ali, Isaiah Epps, Ahmad Wagner, and Bryce Oliver as players to watch.
“I feel like we have some good young players,” Stoops said. “I feel like they’re really stepping up and meeting the challenge.”
2. He’s also happy with the inside linebackers
On the other side of the ball, Stoops admitted the Cats will take a hit due to the amount of talent headed to the NFL, but he’s very pleased with the interior defense, specifically Quinton Bohanna.
“Defensively, through the middle of our defense, we’re still solid as can be. I really feel great. Quinton Bohanna is playing fantastic and our interior defensive line is still very, very good. We’re going to be good at inside linebacker as well. We’ve got to improve at corner and we’ve got to improve at outside linebacker as well and build some depth there, but I feel good. I feel good about what’s going on. ”
3. Kentucky hosted over 100 recruits this week
How’s recruiting? Stoops said that Kentucky has hosted over 100 prospects on unofficial visits this week, proof that the ten-win season turned heads.
“We are busy, really all week, this week. For instance, I had, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I’ve had official visits this time of year, and it’s an odd time of year to have official visits. We’ve had unofficial visits, probably — this is not an exaggeration — we’ve had over 100 kids on our campus this week for unofficial visits.”
Dang. Nick will have more on those visitors for you tomorrow.
4. Couldn’t be happier for Josh Allen
In less than three weeks, Josh Allen will be part of an NFL franchise. You could hear the pride in Stoops’ voice when he talked about his former pass rusher, who is projected to go in the top five of the draft.
“It’s hard to describe. It really is. I’m so proud of him. So happy. It couldn’t have happened to a better person. He’s worked for everything that he’s going to get. Just couldn’t be more proud and happy for him.”
5. He’s also perplexed as to why no one’s picked up Austin MacGinnis
With the AAF officially over, Austin MacGinnis is once again looking for a new home. Like us, Stoops can’t understand why an NFL team hasn’t picked up MacGinnis, Kentucky Football’s all-time leading scorer.
“I really don’t know. The only knock that you could have on Austin would be the kickoffs. That would be it. The consistency that he has and the leg strength that he has is as good as a lot of those players in the league that are kicking. I agree with you. Last year, when I saw some teams struggling at the kicker position, when they had some openings, I made calls personally to guys and got through to them. In a couple cases, he got a tryout and so, I think it’s just a matter of time before he gets the right opportunity in the right situation, the right organization and he makes the right roster and becomes a kicker in the league for a long time.”
Listen to the interview yourself below, and if you haven’t yet, head to UKFootballTix.com to get your tickets to next week’s Spring Game.
By Nick Roush on ©April 05th, 2019 @ 11:00am
After a ten-win season and a Citrus Bowl victory, Mark Stoops has a ton of talent to replace. As almost a dozen Cats prepare for their NFL future, Stoops is cranking the physicality in spring practice up a notch to provide their replacements with valuable reps.
“It’s hard to replace that. We gotta put them in as many game-like situations as we can,” Kentucky’s head coach said on Friday’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio.
“We’ve tackled more. We’ve been more physical this spring. There’s a fine line there. We’re not trying to get guys injured. But the by the time it’s all said and done, we’ll have four live scrimmages and I’ve never done that before.”
Stoops has never had more than three scrimmages in one session of spring practice.
“I just gotta put pressure on our guys and put them in as many game-like situations as we can,” he said.
Three position groups need the experience more than others: defensive backs, outside linebackers and wide receivers. Stoops is confident that Terry Wilson’s second year as the starter will help the passing game grow. Josh Ali, Isaiah, Epps, Ahmad Wagner and Bryce Oliver are emerging targets that will complement Lynn Bowden, but at the end of the day, the passing game is not Kentucky’s bread and butter.
“We just gotta be more consistent to take it to another level, and offensively to take it to another level. We are going to have to do that. You’ve gotta find ways to win football games,” said Stoops. “By the way, we’re 14-1 the last two years when we out-rush opponents by a yard or more at Kentucky.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 04th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
At one point, former Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Allen was picking up steam for the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
He said it multiple times throughout the season, including after Kentucky’s Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State.
If I’m not #1 than I don’t know who is????? #GoCats
— Joshua Allen (@JoshAllen41_) January 1, 2019
Since then, though, momentum has shifted toward Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray for the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 1 pick.
In fact, Odds Shark released their latest odds for Arizona’s first-round choice, and Murray is the overwhelming favorite at -500 overall.
As for Allen? He has dropped all the way down to No. 4 in terms of odds for the top pick at +2000 overall.
Here is the entire list:
Updated odds to the picked 1st overall in the 2019 NFL draft:
Kyler Murray -500
Nick Bosa +250
Quinnen Williams +1800
Josh Allen +2000
— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) April 4, 2019
While the odds for Allen going No. 1 overall are dropping, most draft analysts believe Allen will be going No. 2 overall to the San Francisco 49ers or No. 3 overall to the New York Jets.
Allen wrapped up his visit to San Francisco yesterday, and he will now take visits to several teams in the upcoming days.
Kentucky DE/OLB Josh Allen is wrapping up his two-day private visit today with the SF 49ers, per source. From SF, Allen will go on to Detroit to visit the Lions, and then later visit the Bengals, Buccaneers, Jaguars, Bills, Giants, Jets and Raiders. Busy schedule.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 3, 2019
We’ll see what happens on April 25.
By Nick Roush on ©April 04th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Replacing Josh Allen is no easy task. Hard to believe, right?
After glossing over the outside linebackers’ development for most of the spring season, I opened Brad White’s media availability by asking him how his group is coming along.
White responded with a pause. “They’re coming.”
Since the departure of Allen and White’s promotion to defensive coordinator, he has yet to see other outside linebackers step up to fill the void.
“We’re clearly not where we need to be and we’ve got a lot of steps to take. That’s the bottom line. To play in the 3-4 defense, you’ve got to have dominant outside edge guys,” White said. “We need to find some guys that can step up, and right now that’s one of the positions we really need to grind hard. We’ve still got some practices to go, we’ve got all of fall camp but somebody’s got to emerge. Right now I wouldn’t say anybody’s emerged. We just gotta get better.”
Clearly, White is frustrated with the performance of his position group. Even though they are inexperienced, he expects more.
“We’re young out there. We don’t have a lot of experience other than Boog, so we’re green. It’s not to the standards we expect from the outside linebacker group right now. They know it. I’m not telling them anything they don’t know. They expect it. We’re not going to demand anything less. The bar’s been set. We either work to get over that bar or we’re going to find somebody that can. We’ll keep grinding and chopping wood and doing all of those people say we need to do, but I need somebody to step up and be the guy in that room. It hasn’t shown yet.”
Boogie Watson is the leading candidate to be ‘the guy’ in the outside linebackers room. Last year Watson had 24 tackles, five for loss and five sacks lining up opposite of Josh Allen at Sam linebacker. After Boogie, there’s not a whole lot of experience. The other Sam, Alex King, was an inside linebacker until this spring. A true freshman, Jared Casey, and Jordan Wright (3 tackles in 9 games played in 2018) are currently competing to fill in Josh Allen’s former Jack linebacker position.
“Coach White expects a lot of us. The defense expects a lot,”said Watson. “We just gotta get better. We’re young. It’s good that we have this spring to try to get everyone on board.”
They have some time, but if they don’t get with it, they’ll get lost.
“We’re in the business of winning ball games, so we’re going to find a guy,” said White. “I’m confident it’ll shake itself out come time. Until that time, I don’t know who it’s going to be.”
The annual Blue/White Game is only eight days away. Up until this point, the team has spent most of the time installing new schemes and techniques. Now it’s time to polish the final product.
“I wanna see us tighten up,” said defensive coordinator Brad White. “These last couple of days, we put in a couple different things. There’s just been a few different techniques that we’ve put in and so there’s going to be some learning there. There’s going to be some growing pains. They may not look the cleanest. Trust me, I knew going in it wouldn’t be the cleanest, but you need tape to teach off of.”
The coaches have thrown a lot against the wall. Now it’s time to see what has stuck.
“Let’s tighten the screws. Okay, I’ve understood it from 20,000 feet above, let’s bring it down. When we get into the spring game, we should understand what we have to do and every single technique coach is asking me to do at every single position. That’s what I want to see,” White said.
Things started a little slow. By spring’s end the defensive coaches want to see their guys playing fast.
“Obviously, you wanna stop the run and you wanna play physical when you’re the inside linebackers coach. That’s what my goals are,” Jon Sumrall said. “Just continue to improve. Don’t take steps back, take steps forward everyday.”
The defense has only a little more than a week left to improve. We’ll find out next Friday if the final product is clean enough for White’s standards.
Now I can’t get this song out of my head. Thanks, Coach White.
Bohanna is “The Real MVP”
Tuesday we learned Drake Jackson and Quinton Bohanna are having epic battles in the trenches, described by Q as the kind of battles that, “wake you up in the morning.” Today the UK nose guard received more praise from his peers.
“Quinton’s looking great,” said outside linebacker Boogie Watson. “He’s helped inside a lot because when he’s rushing from the middle, that just helps the edges out so much. In run defense, he’s clogging up the middle, taking two gaps at a time. He’s definitely been the MVP of the spring on defense by far.”
After a frustrating 2018 season that was plagued by ankle injuries, Bohanna’s never felt better. It’s a big reason why he’s taken a step forward. Bohanna knows opposing offenses better than ever before and he said, “I’m getting off the ball, being more disruptive. My hands, they’re quicker.”
Sumrall’s Having a Ball
The former UK linebacker now has 11 practices under his belt as the Cats’ inside linebackers coach. Now that Jon Sumrall’s had some time to soak in the experience, he’s loved every minute.
“Coach Stoops is awesome. He’s amazing. He’s done an incredible job of creating a culture in this football program. Just having the opportunity to be a part of that is something special for me,” Sumrall said.
“Everybody here is really good. The players are hungry. Obviously, great things have happened here. But our goal isn’t to rest on what’s happened. It’s to continue to push, get better and move forward. Everyday’s been fun and I’m enjoying every minute of being here, hopefully helping this program to get better.”
Meet Brandin Echols
Praised by Terry Wilson as a disruptive “ball hawk” in the secondary, the JUCO cornerback talked about his transition into the SEC. He’s already noticed a difference in the speed of the game, but he has one extra benefit under his belt: he previously played wide receiver. Knowing the nuances of that position have given him a leg up through 11 practices.
By Nick Roush on ©April 03rd, 2019 @ 11:00pm
While you were busy losing your mind over the Kentucky Wildcats’ run in the NCAA Tournament, the Kentucky football team was putting in work on the gridiron. To help prepare you for next Friday’s spring game, here’s what you missed through the first ten practices.
1. Stoops is Losing his Hair
Kentucky’s head coach is building a brand new secondary. While four or five defensive backs prepare to get drafted, Stoops only has two sure things in spring practice, Davonte Robinson and Jordan Griffin. The safeties have some in-game experience. The same cannot be said about his cornerbacks. How will he find the right fit?
“I’ll lose a little more hair, get a little more gray,” Stoops said Monday.
Right now there’s a rotating cast of characters vying for playing time. Jamari Brown, Cedrick Dort and JUCO transfer Quandre Mosely are just a few names in the mix. The one that’s wowed Terry Wilson the most is Brandin Echols. Unlike Mosely, who played safety in junior college, Echols has JUCO experience playing on an island.
“He’s been flying everywhere,” Wilson said. “He’s been making big plays. He’s really fast and I’d say he’s a ball-hawk. He’s always where the ball is. He’s really fast. You can tell he knows how to play his position.”
I can personally confirm Wilson’s endorsement. While watching one practice, Echols was one of the few that could consistently keep up with Lynn Bowden.
2. Bowden’s Hair is Gone too
Mark Stoops said, “I didn’t recognize him for a second,” when Bowden strolled into his office one afternoon. The difference is striking.
As Lynn watches his old teammates sell themselves to NFL administrators, he’s making some changes to secure the bag.
“I’m just working on my image,” Bowden said. “I really didn’t feel like I was presenting myself good for the fans with my hair, so I’m just trying something new.”
Bowden’s also taken steps to become one of Kentucky’s vocal offensive leaders. Maturity has never been one of his strengths, but this year it’s all business.
“He’s really engaged in what we’re doing,” said offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. “We’re using him in a lot of spots so he’s gotta know a lot. He does and he gets guys lined up. He’s coaching. Being in his third year now, he’s a better receiver. He’s getting in and out of breaks different. He’s understanding leverage from defensive backs. He’s seeing coverages a little bit better. He’s still gotta get better, but you can see the progress with him.”
Gran is being modest. Bowden is moving at a different speed than everyone else. His routes are crisp and his cuts are clean. Huncho is going to be a bad man this fall.
“If I do get the ball to him and there’s two guys in front of him, he’s going to make somebody miss,” Wilson said. “It’s a good feeling knowing that I can trust him.”
3. Emerging Pass-Catchers
Terry Touchdown can’t throw every pass to Bowden. Luckily, others are stepping up. Redshirt freshman tight end Keaton Upshaw has received a ton of praise for his ability to make plays in space and use his big body to catch passes over defenders. Josh Ali is the most consistent outside receiver, safely securing a spot as Wilson’s No. 2 target.
There are quite a few young wide receivers that have made jaw-dropping plays, yet for each high, there’s an equal low. Between Clevan Thomas, Allen Dailey, Bryce Oliver and B.J. Alexander, at least one will play a significant role in the offense. Who will separate themselves from the pack will be determined in preseason camp.
4. No Serious Injuries
Ahmad Wagner has unfortunately not been able to consistently participate, missing practices on and off with a lingering hamstring problem. Upshaw is dealing with a hammy, Kash Daniel has not been full-go and Bowden and Kavosiey Smoke were sidelined during practice ten.
There have been quite a few guys “banged up,” but luckily nothing serious. One player returning from a serious injury, Landon Young, has been excellent.
“He hasn’t missed a rep. That’s pretty good for coming off that injury,” said Gran. “It’s like nothing ever happened to him. He looks stronger.”
5. Creating a Cohesive Offensive Line
John Schlarman now has a healthy Landon Young at left tackle, but he lost an All-American and a four-year starter on the right side of the line. Luke Fortner, Mason Wolfe and Darian Kinnard all have plenty of talent and game experience, but continuity only comes with time.
“The talent is there. We just have to get those guys to gel,” said Drake Jackson. “The thing with O-line, it’s not all about talent. It’s not all about speed and size. You gotta be able to work well with each other.”
6. A Dominant Defensive Line
Josh Allen isn’t rushing passers off the edge, but Stoops believes the middle of his defensive line is the best he’s ever had at Kentucky. It all starts with Quinton Bohanna. Hampered by injuries last season, the nose guard is transforming into one of the most talented interior defensive lineman in the SEC.
Alongside Bohanna, T.J. Carter and Calvin Taylor provide consistency. Phil Hoskins and Josh Paschal are explosive athletes. Kordell Looney and Marquan McCall are fighting for playing time too, giving Stoops’ defensive line at least six solid contributors.
7. “Tuesday’s with C.J.” Lives On
C.J. Conrad is no longer with the program, but the Kentucky Children’s Hospital is still hosting Kentucky football players each week. Max Duffy and Grant McKinniss have taken the mantle and rebranded it as “Specialists Visiting Special Kids.”
8. Terry Wilson’s Growth
A year ago Terry Wilson was just trying to learn the offense. This year he’s learning how to make the offense he led to ten wins more explosive.
“I think Terry is definitely making improvement. We got a long way to go, but you can see it,” said Gran. “The biggest thing is now we’re trying to get the ball downfield, so there is some new stuff. That’s what you can do in the spring. He just looks more comfortable back there. He’s not moving around and stepping up when you’ve got stuff coming; he’s sitting there. He’s able to make some plays a little bit quicker and making decisions quicker.”
Without Benny Snell in the picture, Kentucky’s offense is changing. A.J. Rose, Chris Rodriguez and Smoke can handle their fair share of carries, but most of the offensive production will fall on Wilson’s shoulders. This spring Terry Touchdown is embracing the challenge to prepare for another successful fall campaign.
By Maggie Davis on ©April 03rd, 2019 @ 9:00pm
“Tuesdays with CJ” will continue this year… even without CJ Conrad.
Kentucky’s tight-end became a regular visitor and volunteer at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital last year, meeting with kids and their families every Tuesday. His dedication to KCH led to several friendships with the kids, including nine-year old cancer patient Ryan Cremeens of Richmond, Kentucky. Conrad helped Cremeens ring the bell at his final chemo treatment and invited him to run out of the tunnel alongside the team for last season’s Blue/White game. Conrad’s efforts helped put smiles on some of the most deserving kids’ faces every Tuesday, including Levi and Sam back in September.
A huge shout-out and thank you to @UKFootball player @cjconrad1 for spending quality time with our kids at @KCHKids this morning! We’re grateful for your visit – and Levi and Sam, pictured here, had an awesome time making slime! @UKAthletics #GetUp pic.twitter.com/ZMoH3yLGcL
— Kentucky Children’s (@KCHKids) September 11, 2018
Now, Conrad is a University of Kentucky graduate. With his own health concerns now out of the way, Conrad is free to compete for a spot on an NFL roster, leaving Lexington behind at least for the time being.
Fortunately, his exit from the Bluegrass will not end the heartwarming tradition. The name has changed, but the outcome will hopefully be the same: “Specialists visiting Special Kids” is now up and running. Punter Max Duffy and kicker Grant Mckinniss made their first visit to the hospital yesterday, and they’re both pretty excited.
— Grant Mckinniss (@GMckinniss) April 2, 2019
— Max Duffy (@Max__Duffy) April 2, 2019
They’ve got big shoes to fill to replace CJ Conrad, who earned numerous philanthropic awards throughout his time with UK, but Specialists visiting Special Kids sounds like an excellent place to start.
Earlier in the week we got a feel for what it is like to be around UK associate head coach Vince Marrow during a regular spring football practice. (You can watch that one here.)
Today, UK defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc got his turn on the mic in another exclusive video from the football program.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) April 3, 2019
LeBlanc is entering his third season at Kentucky and he has already done a phenomenal job with the defensive line. He has really developed UK’s young talent and last year he turned the D-line into a terrific group when expectations weren’t all that high for an inexperienced bunch, not to mention the unexpected loss of Josh Paschal.
LeBlanc reportedly received serious interest from some other big name programs this past offseason, but stuck around Lexington for another year. Mark Stoops is lucky to have him on staff and now his group will be called upon to lead as the veterans of the defense next fall.
By Nick Roush on ©April 03rd, 2019 @ 3:00pm
Could two former Kentucky Wildcats lead the New York Jets’ defense? Avery Williamson wants Josh Allen to join him in the Big Apple.
“I’d be very excited to have him on the team,” the former UK linebacker said on Wednesday’s edition of Kentucky Roll Call.
“I feel like he’s a great player. He’s a game-changer, as you could see in college. Hopefully that transitions over to the NFL. I would definitely be excited to have him on the team to be able to mold him and to be there for him in his first year.”
An All-SEC linebacker in 2013, the former Wildcat has spent most of his spring in Lexington, completing classwork to earn his degree and training at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. During stints in New York City, he’s lobbied for the Jets to select Kentucky’s National Defensive Player of the Year with the third overall pick.
“I’ve been talking to them, so I’m anxious to see what’s going to happen. I’m very anxious. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen. I told him if he comes up here, he’s going to be spending his first $20,000 on me,” Williamson joked.
All joking aside, right now all signs point Allen to New York City. ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS and NFL Network analysts all predict the Jets will pick Allen at No. 3 overall.
Many things can change over the next three weeks. Allen is confident he’ll be selected in the top five, but there’s still plenty of uncertainty. That’s why Williamson believes the final month leading into the draft is the most stressful part of the process.
“That’s the worst part of it because you’re kind of just waiting and don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t have anything, just a month of training. That’s the long part of the draft process. You’re just waking up everyday, wondering where you’re going to. That’s the part that’s kind of annoying. It feels like it takes forever. You just kind of got to do the same thing you’re doing, which is training and keeping your mind off it as much as possible.”
It doesn’t get any easier on draft day. “That’s even worse, because you just don’t know when. It’s a waiting game, nervous, anxious and excited all at the same time,” Williamson said.
Williamson didn’t just talk about the NFL Draft and his new coaches during the 20-minute interview. He shared what it was like to see the Kentucky’s successful season from afar and how much has changed since Mark Stoops’ first season in Lexington.
“There’s been a dramatic change. From the facilities to the caliber of players they have on the team now, it’s changed a lot,” said Williamson. “They’re definitely getting everything they need to be successful on the field to the next level. It’s pretty awesome to see how much has changed and it makes you wish you could have been able to experience it.”
Williamson also shared why he decided to come back to Lexington to finish school, State Street celebration stories and why partying at UK is better than New York City night life.
Go ahead and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. You won’t regret it.
With the basketball season now over, it’s time to turn our attention to the NFL Draft, which is only 23 days away. Josh Allen is still projected to be a top five pick and is making the rounds to visit the teams that might draft him. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Allen arrives in San Francisco tonight for his meeting with the 49ers, who have the No. 2 pick.
Kentucky edge Josh Allen arrives tonight for his #49ers visit. If he gets the same treatment as Alabama DL Quinnen Williams, it’ll start with a nice steak dinner tonight — no IHOP this time. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/tOxZgxBh2p
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 2, 2019
According to NBC Sports’ Jennifer Lee Chan, while in the Bay Area, Allen will also see the Oakland Raiders (fourth pick), and per Pelissero’s report, he’ll visit the Detroit Lions (eighth pick) later this week.
In other draft news, I’ve been back in Nashville for approximately 24 hours and all anyone can talk about is how they’re removing — excuse me, relocating — 10 cherry trees to make way for the largest stage in NFL Draft history. Between the hype, the traffic, and the #NewNashville outrage, I’ll be shocked if the city survives.
By Nick Roush on ©April 02nd, 2019 @ 3:00pm
Kentucky spring practice has transformed into trench warfare.
In the middle of it all, Drake Jackson fortifies the offensive line. As soon as the fourth-year center snaps the ball, he takes a lick from Quinton Bohanna. Clashes between the two are turning heads at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility.
“Drake’s playing good, but he’s got his hands full with Quinton,” Mark Stoops said after UK’s tenth spring practice. “Quinton is really playing some good football. He’s taking it to another level. He’s hard to handle.”
Jackson has become a staple of Kentucky’s offensive line as the starting center over the last two seasons. Even though he’s had plenty of success, nothing comes easily at spring practice.
“Quinton’s had a great spring. Him and Drake have battles everyday,” said offensive line coach John Schlarman. “If you don’t bring your A-game, you get embarrassed in that matchup.”
Jackson welcomes the competition from Bohanna.
“I’m blessed to have Q line up across from me everyday,” Jackson said. “First off, he’s massive, but he moves so well for his size. There’s not a lot of guys that can use their hands, flip their hips and go from power to speed like he does. He’s a really smart player. He’s one of the smartest on the D-line. He’s always in the right spot. He’s just all around a solid player.”
As Bohanna elevates Jackson’s play, the rest of the defensive line is pushing the offensive line. While Schlarman searches for Bunchy Stallings and George Asafo-Adjei’s replacements on the right side of the line, Luke Fortner, Mason Wolfe and Darian Kinnard are challenged by veterans.
“The defensive line has been steady. They’ve been solid in there,” Stoops said. “T.J. (Carter), I noticed him take it to another level. Calvin (Taylor Jr.) is always steady, strong in there. Of course, having Josh (Paschal) back in there really helps a lot. He’s so sudden and so quick. Quinton is really becoming a difference-maker.”
Even though Kentucky lost its National Defensive Player of the Year on the edge, stars are emerging in the middle of the defense.
A few more takeaways from Kentucky’s second spring scrimmage…
Explosive Plays are Back
For the last two seasons, Kentucky’s offense struggled to stretch out opposing defenses with a deep play threat. One of the primary goals go the spring season is develop targets who can make plays downfield. On Friday, UK’s offense did just that.
“We had some kids make some plays,” said Eddie Gran. “We had some broken plays, which is gonna happen sometimes, and we threw the ball really well on the run. We had some guys open, made some big plays. We were more explosive this scrimmage than we were in the first one, which is good. We’re looking for one (explosive play) of every seven, and we were. That was something to build off of.”
Terry Wilson echoed his offensive coordinator’s sentiment. The key is doing it consistently.
Gunnar was Great
While Terry Touchdown grabs headlines, Mark Stoops does not want Gunnar Hoak’s play to go unnoticed. Even though he’s going up against a thin second team defense, Hoak was poised on scoring drives.
“Gunnar had one heck of a scrimmage. I was really impressed with Gunnar,” Stoops said. “I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s played well, not to take away anything from Terry. In general, we’re throwing the ball better.”
Logan Stenberg Leads the Way
Like most of the play this spring, inconsistencies can be found just about everywhere. However, errors happen far less when the Cats are running the ball, thanks to the experienced left side of the line that features Landon Young and Logan Stenberg.
“We really ran the ball good Friday. I really felt like they did some good things,” said Stoops. “Logan really stood out to me. He’s been solid for a lot of years, so it doesn’t surprise anybody, but with him and Landon in there at the same time and we’re at full strength, they’re doing some good things.”
By Nick Roush on ©April 02nd, 2019 @ 12:00pm
In the fall, the Kentucky football team practices in the afternoon. That changes to the mornings in the spring, leaving the rest of the day uninterrupted for players to focus on academics. Stoops might change that moving forward.
The cold spring mornings often force the team into the Nutter Field House. Cramped quarters with a track that doesn’t give the football team a complete 100-yard field, today two players, Lynn Bowden and Kavosiey Smoke, could not finish practice because injuries on the indoor field turf.
“I had to move it outside. I had to get out of the indoor. I gotta rethink practicing in the spring in the morning,” Stoops said. “I just can’t get the work done in there.”
They aren’t the only ones on the injury report. Wide receiver Ahmad Wagner safety Tyrell Ajian have missed a few practices with lingering hamstring issues. Tight end Keaton Upshaw has been one of the most praised young playmakers throughout the first ten practices. In the middle of another exceptional scrimmage, Upshaw tweaked a hamstring last Friday. He hopes to return in time for the spring game, but his status remains up in the air as of today.
It’s frustrating for the redshirt freshman tight end who was sidelined with a meniscus tear in his first fall on campus. Even though he was limited, Upshaw learned quite a bit from C.J. Conrad.
“He gave me an opportunity to learn from him. He was a big impact, seeing what he does, being in the film room, it helped me a lot,” Upshaw told KSR. “It’s real frustrating dealing with all these injuries, but it happens for a reason,”
Once Upshaw gets a clean bill of health, he brings quite a bit to the table.
“I feel like we have some really have some upside there,” said Stoops. “Keaton is such a big target and he runs so well.”
The young tight end is close with his quarterback. Whenever he’s a potential target, Upshaw tells Terry Wilson, “Throw it up to me. I’ll go get it for you.”
By Nick Roush on ©April 02nd, 2019 @ 10:00am
When Vince Marrow steps in front of a microphone, it’s always a good time. The latest edition of Mic’d Up is no exception.
The two-minute KyWildcatsTV videos focus on how different coaches interact with players during spring practice. In Marrow’s case, that includes quite a few jokes. Of the 2:20, at least 1:30 is spent giving the players all different kinds of hell. After one Luke Fortner rep, we even got the Big Dog’s best Darth Vader impression.
If you prefer to focus on the actual football, you’ll see a lot of good things from No. 88. Keaton Upshaw has been one of the most talked about new playmakers this spring. Even in just a few short clips, you can easily understand why.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) April 1, 2019
My favorite advice from Marrow: “Never say ‘who.’ Only owls say who.”