The absence of offensive firepower was the only meaningful grievance from fans during Kentucky’s historic 2018 football season. The Cats responded by unleashing an explosive offensive attack in the 2019 Blue/White Game. It was a lot of fun.
1. Go Deep!
Between each team Kentucky had ten plays over 20 yards or more. Isaiah Epps’ 60-yard reception from Terry Wilson would have been the longest pass-and-catch through the air of the 2018 season season. On that drive Kentucky went 84 yards in only two plays.
Even though it may make you question the secondary’s competence, it was encouraging to see UK’s offense let it rip after failing to consistently connect on deep balls over the last two years.
2. Tricky Start
It’s become the Cats’ signature spring move. In Stoops’ first game as UK’s head coach, three quarterbacks were on the field for the first play. This year, Lynn Bowden started at quarterback. He slung it to Wilson, who was split wide, who threw it back to Bowden for an 8-yard gain. The more trickery, the better.
3. Hello, Bryce Oliver
It was encouraging to see Isaiah Epps convert a couple deep balls, but he did not surprise quite like Bryce Oliver. After redshirting in 2018, the Ft. Lauderdale Dillard product was absolutely incredible. He averaged 13.1 yards on 8 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. Most of his catches were jump balls where he either ran past his defender or caught it over the top.
Entering tonight’s game Oliver, Allen Dailey, B.J. Alexander and a few others were vying for playing time. Oliver called dibs.
4. Smoke a Little Smoke
Kavosiey Smoked the defense as soon as he touched the ball. Allow that to serve as my only and only bad smoke pun.
In his first carry, the redshirt freshman running back absolutely torched the defense. He made one cut and was gone, 87 yards down the field for a touchdown. He only had five touches, but he certainly looked like RB2.
Similar to his predecessor’s “Benny and the Jets,” Kroger Field had a song prepared for Smoke’s touchdown celebration. Instead of using his first name to play Busta Rhymes, “Pass the Courvoisier,” Eric Church’s “Smoke a little smoke,” played over the Kroger Field speakers. Eric Church doesn’t slap quite like Busta, but he prefers to simply go by “Smoke.” Still, this would be cool to hear a few times a game at The Kroge.
Mark Stoops – Pass The Kavosiey ft. Busta Rhymes and Pharrell pic.twitter.com/BhERgognRG
— Curtis Burch (@curtisburch) February 7, 2018
5. Skyline at Kroger Field
Football Time in the Bluegrass will never be the same. Tonight fans could enjoy 3-ways and cheese coneys while watching the Cats score touchdowns. Somewhere Mike Edwards is smiling ear to ear.
6. Injury Free
Every coaches’ primary spring game goal is to escape without an injury. Stoops can check that box.
All in all, the Cats remained healthy for most of the spring. There were a few hamstring injuries here and there, but nothing that will linger long into the offseason.
7. Good Form, Chance Poore
Kicking is not typically a spring game take-away, but then again, how often do you see a kicker absolutely drill a 52-yard field goal? It was not a live simulation. Poore did not see a rush. Even so, that ball hit the back of the net from the left hash. He could have made it from at least 60. He also knocked down a 36-yarder. Not too shabby.
8. Jordan Wright Stepped Up
If this was a real game, Jordan Wright would have racked up a few sacks. After Brad White openly criticized his outside linebackers just a week ago, Wright brought his A-Game under the bright lights. I counted at least three instances where he was there to make a play, but could only let the QB run out of the pocket. He didn’t just rush the passer. After narrowly missing a first half interception, he picked off a second half pass.
Wright certainly looked the part for the Blue Team. His White Team counterpart at Jack linebacker did well for a true freshman. Jared Casey led the White squad with six tackles and a quarterback hurry.
9. One Awkward Proposal
Throughout the Blue/White Game, on-field interviews were conducted for the SEC Network audience and the Kroger Field crowd. At the conclusion of the third quarter, Christi Thomas brought the mic to Lynn Bowden. After a brief back-and-forth, somebody handed Lynn a ball. He signed it, then handed it to a woman on the sideline. Next to Bowden’s signature read, “Will you marry me?”
She said yes, even if her face did not. Unfortunately, there’s no video to tell the tale, only this picture.