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Pleasant Surprises from the Spring Game

Josh Clemons had to earn every one of his 97 yards. (Darrell Bird / Cats Pause)

Josh Clemons had to earn every one of his 97 yards. (Darrell Bird / Cats Pause)

Josh Clemons had to earn every one of his 97 yards. (Darrell Bird / Cats Pause)

Josh Clemons

You never know what you’re going to get from a player that has had to overcome a season-ending injury, and you expect even less after TWO season-ending injuries.  All doubt and uncertainty were erased Saturday when Josh Clemons led all rushers with 97 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.  Clemons has used his time off to get stronger, transforming into more of a power-runner, but his 38-yard run down the left sideline was reminiscent of his freshman year when he broke the Commonwealth Stadium record on an 87-yard touchdown run.

Clemons’ Saturday was even more special considering how well the other three running backs played.  It will be tough to find minutes and carries for all four running backs, but the elder member of the group loves the competition,  “Oh, it’s fun every day. We push each other, one guy makes a big run and you want to be the guy to step up and match it. We talk about each other, make fun out there but we also try and push each other for the best.”

Demarco Robinson

Robinson was one of the most talented holdovers from the Joker Phillips era, yet the BBN has yet to see him reach his potential.  After starting the 2013 season off strong (especially as a returner) an ankle injury kept him on and off the field.  To make matters worse, Robinson has had multiple off the field incidents in the last six months.

Mark Stoops has given Robinson the chance to earn his way back on the team, and he is proud of his progress, “You know, he’s really improving.  I’m really proud of the effort that he’s made off the field.  He’s not perfect.  Demarco has a lot of work to do in certain areas, but he’s trying and he’s battling and I’ve been proud that he’s really improved in a lot of ways.”

It certainly paid off Saturday as Robinson led the team in receiving, catching 8 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.  On the final drive of the first half Pat Towles used Robinson as his go-to receiver, finding the small speedster on out-routes four times, keeping the drive alive that led to a field goal as time expired.  With a thin group of wide receivers, Robinson’s play will be important to the success of the passing game.

Jaleel Hytchye

Taking a page from Marcus McClinton’s “We Believe” book, Hytchye (you can call him “Leel”) debuted his song “Why Not”, firing up the fans and players.  Hytchye backed up his lyrics with a phenomenal Spring game performance.  Hytchye finished with the 2nd-most tackles of any player on the turf with 4.5 tackles, only to be outdone by his 2 pass breakups.  

Hytchye was a highly-touted prospect as Stoops’ first commitment, but the speedster needed a year to learn wide receivers’ tendencies at the next level.  His reaction time has improved greatly, making each catch for his man difficult.  It’s safe to say that the Cats are going to have more than one interception in the secondary this season.

Daron Blaylock

Without much depth or experience at linebacker, Stoops’ defense is desperately in need of playmakers.  Blaylock didn’t see too much playing time at safety last season, but after working his tail off on Special Teams the coaches were obligated to give the tweener a shot at linebacker.

The move paid off and Blaylock led all players with six tackles.  Blaylock’s play was exactly what Stoops was looking for, “It was very important.  Daron is a guy that since he’s been here, really since he was recruited, he was in-between linebacker and safety.  He’s a good player that we need to find the right spot for him, and Daron needs to continue to play with great fire and great energy,” Stoops said.  “I was very proud of him a year ago the way he always competed and played on special teams.”

Cameron Fogle 

Injuries at wide receiver have been frustrating for the coaching staff, but they have kept the faith in their “next man up” mentality.  Walk-on Cameron Fogle embraced the challenge and made significant strides this Spring, which were fully showcased Saturday.  Drew Barker’s favorite target at Conner High School caught his first pass inside Commonwealth Stadium.  Fogle may not be a homerun-receiver that can rake in dozens of yards after the catch, but his sure hands could earn him some legitimate playing time in the fall.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

23 Comments for Pleasant Surprises from the Spring Game

  1. I Sayy
    3:19 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    The team does seem to be improving but you have to take these spring game performances with a grain of salt. I fear the the secondary will be our biggest weakness again this year. There were a handful of plays where I watched the corners get absolutely blown up off the ball, one very noticeably on one of Jojo’s TD runs. Other than that the running backs and wide outs are by far the most improved groups. The O-line is much bigger and more physical than years past. D-line seems to be one of, if not the strognest groups on the team, but we of course thought the same thing about last years D-line and we all saw how that turned out.
    I’m a little tired of hearing about Demarco Robinson. Every year the media hypes the kid up to watch him do nothing. I know he wasn’t mentioned in the conversation but I feel the same way about JD Harmon as well. Both of these guys seem to be poised for break out years every year but I do not understand where this comes from. Neither have shown great play making abilities save face for a few plays but other than that I am left unimpressed. Just my 2 cents

  2. Musehobo
    3:19 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Look I really want our football team to be good this year. But I don’t see how we can glean much about our players from a Spring game. I know Za’darius is going to be good because he was a beast last year. But I just don’t see how splitting a team in half and pitting against itself will give us a fair glimpse at the unknowns.

    • jeffrey
      6:21 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      My big question is the O-line, if they are good enough to protect our QB in the MSST, Vandy, and UL games, we could win 6 games at best.

      We have a much better QB this season, but that O-line needs to protect, and they need to open holes for our RB’s, and block for our RB’s. Just like any team in the nation, our O-line will either make us or break us. Because we do have talent on the offensive and defensive side of the ball to compete in some games this season.

  3. deWildcat
    3:29 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    It’s so simple – just believe it is getting better and it will.
    Look at the economy – I am told everyday how much better it is than with GWB.
    Well low and behold the stock market is in a much bigger bubble than 2007 and all is excellent in the world. (sarc off).

    • Proud Kentuckian
      5:42 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      This is a sports website. This is not the place to air your political leanings. Please, stay on topic!

  4. hype machine
    3:47 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    i am so exited about the basketball team that i think the football team will be undefeated as well !

    • UKfan
      10:25 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Doubtful Luseville will be undefeated now that they are in a more respectable football conference.

  5. LT
    3:52 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    That O-lineman sitting on Clemons head looks like his left knee is about to get rolled up!

  6. Hollahollaholla
    4:04 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    That song is good!

  7. tyrus
    4:14 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Hope the football team has a good year. I think the goal, for years to come, should not be going to a bowl game but beating SEC teams. Do that and getting selected for a meaningful bowl game will follow. I remember last year’s hype with all the air raid references so I think now reality has established itself since we’re down to discussing one receiver. Need three good receivers…too easy for SEC teams to shut-down one or two during a game. Stopping the opponent’s receivers is also an issue of great concern this season and on.

    • Bddfromcincy
      6:35 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Haves Blue, Ryan Timmons, Robinson, Badet, and Montgomery. Snodgrass has potential for this year if he can catch-up, if not, he will definitely be a playmaker in seasons to come. Also, we will hopefully have a QB that can make timely and accurate throws. It’s tough to judge receivers when the QB was not very accurate.

  8. Terry Blue
    4:21 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Nick, you do a good job on football, hope you’ll be real active here for the preseason and of course the season. I would suggest that those posters here that don’t like football, just be quiet, that way you won’t show your ignorance. I know this site could easily be called Kentucky Basketball Radio but in truth the football program funds the enire athletic department except basketball, which pays for itself. Nationally, college football is much bigger than basketball. I love basketball too, but there’s no reason why we can’t have an SEC competitive football team and I believe in short order we will. We just had the 13th largest attendance for a spring game in the nation, this coming off two straight 2-10 seasons. Can you imagine what it will be like when we actually start having some winning seasons?!

    • Scott (2)
      9:27 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Excellent post… 100% in agreement

  9. Terry Blue
    4:24 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    As a follow up, we had several top flight receivers sitting out the Spring Game including:Badet, Montgomery, and Shields. We also have 3-4 top flight receivers due to hit campus in June, so we’ll be ok there, or as Neal says we should be totally stocked in one more recruiting class

  10. UKfanNKY
    4:31 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Looking forward to the football season this year and beyond it looks as if the football program is moving in the right track and things will only get better……glad to see Cameron Fogle getting a chance to prove himself as a walk on. He was able to redshirt last year given a chance he will make a difference on the field.
    GO CATS!!!

  11. Joe
    4:59 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I would echo Matt Jones, if THIS coaching staff can’t produce consistent winning seasons, then I don’t believe UK can do it. That having been said, the program seems to be moving forward. I don’t expect to win 6 games this year….I think 4 is reasonable, 5 would be a success. Six wins, merely being Bowl- eligible, would be outstanding! Let’s cross our fingers try to ignore the trolls who populate these boards talking down the program.

    • Tampa Satchel
      9:24 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Agreed. Anyone suggesting we should or need to win 6 to have a successful season is a moron. No problem hoping for that though.

  12. ushouldno
    5:20 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I really enjoyed the game Saturday, but one of my highlights was meeting several of the 2014 signees at the “Catwalk.” Josh Krok, Tymere Dubose, Jarrett LaRubbio, and Dorian Baker were extremely impressive. these young men are close to being SEC ready now. Krok is truly a massive young man. Dorian Baker looks like he will be ready to help this fall. I know it is still early but these are the kind of ball players that could change UK’s football future.

  13. Old Cat
    5:48 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Would like to hear a report on the potential recruits who attended the game.

  14. da man
    7:04 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Anyone else notice that Demarco is very very skinny for a wide receiver in the SEC. With all that lifting they do in the off season you would think it would be pretty easy to get some strength to go along with that speed but he just hasn’t done it yet, and that’s whats holding him back. Most likely it’s a work-ethic issue. Still he’s a ok to good player

    • Nick Roush
      10:29 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      It is what it is. Tayshaun Prince has been lifting weights for a decade and has never put on weight. For some people it’s just damn near impossible to put on lbs., not because they aren’t trying.

    • Tampa Satchel
      12:15 am April 30, 2014 Permalink

      I came to UK at 150lbs and lifted weights 3-5 days a week, consumed 3000-5000 calories in protein/muscle builder shakes a day (on top of 3 meals) and at the end of my freshman year I had gained a grand total of 5 pounds. Then from the last day of class Spring semester until the 1st day of class in August, I grew from 155 to 185. You never know how a young man’s body is going to respond.

  15. MustangCat
    2:23 pm April 30, 2014 Permalink

    I honestly think we will see the leap this year. Our schedule is much more agreeable. We have 3 games that are 100% winnable games. Pencil in the W games. Now, those are games we absolutely CANNOT lose, like WKU the last two years. I don’t think we will. Then we have 3-4 games that i believe are 50-50% games. A couple of those are maybe 60-40% games – our way. I can see 5 wins, and 6 if we don’t lose any that we should win. All we have to do is pull off an upset and we might be at 7-8 wins. It’s not that big of a mountain to climb this year. Of the 6 winnable games, only UL might be an upset, and i dont think they will be anywhere near as good this year. You look back over the last couple of years, and Bridgewater was the only reason they won 6-8 of their games. He pulled them out almost single handedly. You take him away from their last two teams, and they lose 4-6 games each year. They will be tough. Petrino teams always are. But, we are much closer to them now. I’m picking 6, maybe 7 wins. And we go bowling. And we pull in a top 10-15 class.