Today the football staff got their first real look at the team this season during a scrimmage at Commonwealth Stadium. This was the first of two preseason scrimmages they will hold before the Sept. 2 Kickoff against Louisville. Unfortunately I could not be in attendance, but here are some notes I gathered from those that were there.
– Joker is hesitant to say anything about the Quarterbacks. He has been very vague thus far, but it is apparent that the #1 spot is between Max Smith and Morgan Newton while Jalen Whitlow and Pat Towles compete against each other.
“We’ll see if there was any separation. It was nice competition. I thought the two young guys went in there and handled themselves well at times, but again it’s a lot faster, a lot more stuff on those guys. But I thought they both did some good. I thought both of the two older guys did some good. We’ll go see if there’s enough separation between any of them to make some decisions. I’m not talking about one and two, I’m talking about three, four also.”
– Even though he didn’t say anything special, he did say what he was looking for most when deciding between Max and Newton.
“I don’t think you can worry about last year. This is a new competition. One thing we’ve got to do is base our evaluation of what’s happening now. This is a different team. Who can lead this offense to wins? To lead this offense to wins, you’ve got to get in the end zone. That’s important. We’ll base our evaluation on what’s happening now. We’ve had nine practices. Still a lot of work to be done, 20 more practices, and we’ll need those to get ourselves ready for this season.”
– La’Rod King came ready to play. The Senior is ready to be “The Man” on offense and showed it today. Coach Phillips said he was the guy that came up with the big play today, along with scoring a Touchdown.
– CoShik Williams came up with a big play. They won’t say who is winning the Running Back position, but CoShik has technically been the number 1, and with an offense that needs playmakers, you can expect him to keep that spot as #1 if he continues to show up ready to play.
– Big plays weren’t just made on offense, CB Cartier Rice wowed Coach Phillips with a nice interception. Weakside linebacker Malcolm McDuffen also had a pick, but Rice’s may have stood out for the wrong reason.
Defensively, they had one pick-six and one that should’ve been a pick-six if the guy who intercepted it understood how to put his foot in the ground and cut back inside. I’m not sure if he’s every played tailback, but he did have a big interception. He’s used to taking a knee. He’s the one that had the interception (at the end of) the South Carolina game (in 2010), where you catch and take a knee.
– Freshman Running Backs Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor continue to impress coaches with their physicality. In recent years, there haven’t been too many “big-backs” at UK (the last I can remember being Artose Pinner). Both of these guys, along with Sophomore Josh Clemons, are strong backs that are not afraid to make contact.
“The young backs move the pile. They’re big, strong, physical guys. The understand how to pick up, which is the hardest part of being a freshman back, protection. I don’t know if they always know yet who they’re supposed to protect, but when they do, it’s an explosion. Those guys really understand how to uncoil their body and get up underneath people. But the thing they have to understand is who to block all the time. But those guys do a really good job of moving the pile. There’s nothing there and you get up and it’s five yards or four yards. That’s the thing we haven’t had around here in a long time, that type of back.”