– Coach Stoops is starting with a clean slate as a head coach, beginning Spring practice without a listed depth chart saying,“Nobody’s earned anything yet.” The empty depth chart also opens the opportunity for a variety of position changes, giving the staff plenty of wiggle room to see where a player fits best. As Drew mentioned earlier, Bud Dupree’s expected move to Defensive End is the most notable move.
– The offseason has been flooded with hype regarding systemic change within the program, however after one practice no change was more obvious than the new uptempo pace brought by the young staff. RB Jonanthan George noted the new attitude saying, “they expect us to play fast, all over the field.” Neal Brown is not only an offensive pencil-pushing nerd, but “he can be loud” and was praised by Coach Stoops for bringing high levels of energy while coaching efficiently in individual groups.
– No depth chart means no certain QB starter with Towles, Smith, and Whitlow splitting reps evenly today. Stoops said their performance mirrored the rest of the team’s: up-and-down with high intensity and understanding for the basics while suffering from a lack of execution. The QBs will be available for comment Wednesday.
– Players’ may have entered practice a little nervous, but the excitement of being back on the field was more overwhelming. Avery Williamson- last year’s leading tackler and 2nd in the SEC- said it felt good to “shake off the cobwebs”. Coach Stoops was impressed with the players’ conditioning even though it is the first day back to work after Spring Break (I still have no voice). Avery said the offseason program worked well preparing them for today, “We did a lot of different things. It really helped us take that first step forward. It’s going to help us even more after Spring ball, over the summer.”
– Injury Update: Kentucky’s most experienced Offensive Lineman Zach West will not be able to participate 100% of the time this Spring, but will most likely attain the starting Center position after spending last season at Guard. When asked about RB Josh Clemons’ availability this Spring, Coach Stoops jovial facial expression changed quickly telling the media he’d be available “some”. That “some” means no way Jose; he is too valuable offensively to put any risk in further delaying his 17+ month meniscus tear recovery.
The Cats will be back on the field Wednesday and into full pads for the first time on Friday. If you can’t wait until then, you can watch Stoops’ full press conference here. Stay Stoopid My Friends.