Joker and company held their final scrimmage of the preseason this morning. Here are some notes:
– Overall, it seems the scrimmage was pretty even, with the offense striking early off long passes from Morgan Newton, but the defense settled in and took control. In the latter half of the scrimmage, the offense made a few more big plays, but the defense’s speed overwhelmed them in the end. Mainly, today’s scrimmage was about position battles.
– Morgan Newton had a good day, hitting Matt Roark and La’Rod King for long completions. Joker said afterwards that Newton is “really in command” of the offense and handled himself well. He drew more praise from the rest of the staff for his ability to throw the ball downfield and low number of interceptions during camp. While Morgan’s downfield gains were impressive, so was his work on immediate routes. From all the reports, he continues to look confident, throwing the ball with authority.
– But what about his targets? The wide receivers have been one of the biggest question marks on this team. Joker said that the wide receivers made some good plays, although he wished the defensive backs had made more plays on the ball. Randy Sanders said that TE Ronnie Shields has really stood out during the camp.
– Four of the offensive lineman sat out the scrimmage (along with Danny Trevathan, who is a “bit banged up”), so the backups got plenty of time to shine. RB Raymond Sanders said the line opened holes as “big as the Red Sea.” Sanders also said his knee is almost back to 100%, just in time for the opener against Western.
– Everyone was anxious to see how freshman RB Josh Clemons did after all his preseason hype. Clemons didn’t disappoint, turning in an impressive day despite his first fumble of the camp. Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said he needs to improve his blocking if he wants to see more time on the field: “We can’t put him in when we’re going to run him, take him out to pass.”
– Like I mentioned earlier, the speed of Rick Minter’s defense was the talk of the scrimmage. The staff continues to say this is the fastest defense they’ve had at Kentucky, and, hold on to your seats, this crew can tackle too. Overall, Rick Minter seemed pleased with his squad, who forced at least four turnovers during the scrimmage; however, that didn’t stop him from giving them an earful after the scrimmage was over. Minter is preparing them for Western’s star RB Bobby Rainey, who will be a big test for a group that hasn’t had the most impressive run defense in the past, to say the least.
– Want news about special teams? I’ve got it. Winston Guy seems to be the go-to kick returner, with Randall Burden handling punt returns. Joker seemed excited about the coverage players, who he said are tough, athletic guys.
The team’s enjoys a rare day off tomorrow before hitting the field again on Monday, when they begin to prepare for Western Kentucky.
I’m off for the day, but Chris Thomas will be here soon to give you all the best Kentucky news in the most ridiculous manner possible. In the meantime, enjoy two more video interviews after the jump, courtesy of the Courier-Journal.