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Eight Observations from UK Spring Practice

Eight Observations from UK Spring Practice

It was a beautiful morning for football in the Bluegrass.

KSR was at Kentucky’s eighth practice of the spring season.  The sound of pads popping was spectacular.  Here’s what I learned at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility:

1. A “Fluid” Situation at Defensive Back

After three years of steady play from UK’s secondary, Mark Stoops is preparing new stars to emerge.  Only two have secured playing time, Davonte Robinson and Jordan Griffin.  Outside of the two safeties, it’s a guessing game at corner.

Redshirt freshman Jamari Brown picked off the only pass in a team setting today.  He has all of the physical tools, but made a few costly mental mistakes.  His play sums up the corners well.  Cedrick Dort, Stanley Garner, Taj Dodson and Yusuf Corker all provided a few good plays, while working through the bad.  The mistakes are fixable, typically in zone coverage, and understandable as the JUCO transfers get their feet wet.

Brandin Echols was probably the most consistent cornerback.  Like Derrick Baity, the JUCO transfer uses physicality to prevent the receiver from completing the pass.  A few times I thought I saw Chris Westry on the field, when it actually was Quandre Mosely.  They both are tall, lengthy players rocking No. 21.  Mosely’s learning curve is a bit steeper than Echols.  Primarily a safety in JUCO, he only played five games at corner last season.

There’s plenty more to discuss about Kentucky’s secondary, but I’ll save that for a later time.

2. Holy Smokes!

This kid is going to be good.  Rodriguez swings a big hammer with a physical brand of running.  Smoke has some of that, but he’s much more shifty in-between the tackles.  He’s the kind of guy that runs into a pile of bodies, then suddenly squirms free and explodes 15 yards down the field.  You’ll definitely see No. 20 on the field this fall.

3. Jon Sumrall and Kash Daniel are the Perfect Match

Kentucky’s defensive captain and his new coach are cut from the same cloth.  Where Matt House leaned on X’s and O’s, Sumrall uses emotion to get more out of his players.  When one contact drill lacked a little juice, Sumrall asked, “Can somebody knock them on their ass?”  It didn’t take long for someone to respond.

Kash’s personality matches Sumrall’s, but that’s not the case for the young guys: Jamin Davis, Chris Oats, DeAndre Square and Tra Wilkins.  Sumrall is the perfect person to help them come out of their shell to unleash hell on the opponent.

4. “You’re gonna break your neck!”

Vince Marrow’s line might have been the funniest thing I heard all day.  C.J. Conrad told us learning to block is the Big Dog’s primary objective, and he wasn’t lying.  Rigg, Upshaw and Bates spent most of their time in individuals hitting people.  After watching today, I understand why the coaches are so high on Upshaw.

5. The Offensive Line Rundown

From left to right: Landon Young, Logan Stenberg, Drake Jackson, Luke Fortner and Darian Kinnard.

After rotating in consistently throughout his freshman year, Kinnard is prepared to seamlessly fill Big George’s big shoes at right tackle.  The bigger question is at right guard, Bunchy Stallings’ former position.  Luke Fortner was called upon first, but expect Mason Wolfe to step in too.

6. Bowden is on Another Level

I deleted and retyped this sentence a dozen times and still can’t find the right words to articulate just how good Bowden looked in only two hours of action.

There’s a competitiveness, a dedication to being the best I’ve not seen in him before.  He’s always been fast, but he’s never been able to break away so easily with one cut.  Once simply the best athlete on the field, he’s transformed into the total package.  Prepare to see plenty of amazing plays from Bowden this fall.

7. Bohanna is a Beast

Quinton Bohanna is a large human being.  The anchor of Kentucky’s defensive line at nose guard, he leads a group that should fortify the front of UK’s defense.  There is no drop-off at all in the six-man rotation.  Even the ones who are fighting to get in, like Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald and Isaiah Gibson, are impressive athletes.

8. Terry’s Stepping Up

Terry “Touchdown” Wilson looks like somebody who won ten games as a starting quarterback in the SEC.  A year ago, he was learning on the fly.  Now he looks comfortable in the pocket, he’s making confident decisions and most importantly, he’s become the leader of the offense.

While Drake Jackson mans the offensive line, Terry is the consummate teammate for the young playmakers.  Quick to give a word of encouragement after a mistake, the most telling moment of practice was a seemingly innocuous moment.

During one-on-ones, Josh Ali used a double-move down the sideline.  He had just enough time to drop down a toe after making the catch for a 30+ yard gain.  Wilson immediately tagged in Gunnar Hoak and went to the sidelines to thank and congratulate Ali for making the catch.  Those little moments will make a big difference on Saturdays in the fall.


HIGHLIGHTS: Football Spring Scrimmage No. 1

It may be March Madness, but the UK Football team is also hard at work. You can read notes from the spring’s first scrimmage by clicking here, but now we also have highlights. It was a beautiful afternoon for some football. Check out the team’s best moves of the day, posted by the Kentucky Football Twitter account.

The BBN will have a chance to see this year’s team in action inside Kroger Field during the Spring Game on April 12 at 6:00 p.m.