The offense excelled, while the secondary struggled the first scrimmage of fall camp. Here are ten things we learned from today’s scrimmage.
1. Lynn Bowden is Doing Lynn Bowden Things
Lynn Bowden is the undeniable star on this offense and after the first scrimmage, he is leading the way. To avoid the dreaded injury bug, Stoops only allowed Bowden to take 25 snaps in today’s scrimmage. He made the most of his minutes on the field.
“Lynn did what he did early,” Stoops said. “We did a nice job of getting him the ball and he created some plays.”
2. Wide Receivers are Elevating their play
Lynn Bowden is the clear-cut number one option at wideout this season, but there have been a lot of guys fighting for that number two spot for Terry Wilson. In a scrimmage where the offense excelled, it sounded like the receivers had a big day today.
After facing them on the field, Jordan Griffin was quick to praise a few players individually. “I think Clevan Thomas is doing a good job,” said the junior cornerback. “Ahmad [Wagner] is doing a really good job, of course, Lynn is doing a really good job…Bryce [Oliver] is doing a good job. The whole receiving corps is really stepping up and challenging us.”
3. “Banged Up” at Running back Today
More minor injuries mean more cautionary practices for the Cats, and no group felt that more today than the running backs. Kavosiey Smoke was sidelined after suffering a minor injury in Friday’s practice. He’s expected to return in time for Monday’s practice. Stoops added that Chris Rodriguez got banged up at the end of today’s scrimmage too..
4. A.J. Rose was “Explosive”
While other running backs missed reps, A.J. Rose used the opportunity to assert himself as one of the offense’s top playmakers in today’s scrimmage. “A.J. had some really good runs,” Stoops said. “He made some explosive plays, made some people miss. Again it’s nice to see he has another gear that can take it to another level.”
5. T.J. Carter is having a Great Fall Camp
Multiple players will shine on Kentucky’s front seven this season, but Drake Jackson thinks T.J. Carter is having one of the best fall camps of anyone thus far.
“T.J. Carter is having a great fall camp,” said Jackson. “I noticed from the way he worked out this whole summer, and just his explosiveness off the ball this fall camp. He’s got a motor like I’ve never seen before. He’s more powerful, he’s twitchier, he’s using more moves, so he’s been more disruptive.”
Carter wasn’t the only person Jackson praised. He also pointed out DeAndre Square, Chris Oats, Jared Casey and Xavier Peters.
6. Paschal REALLY wants to play
The best news to come out of fall camp is that Josh Paschal finished up his immunotherapy this week and he really wants to stay on the field. Stoops said Paschal finished up his treatment and was out of practice Thursday. The next day he was ready to go, even though it was a hot, humid afternoon.
“He doesn’t want to be out,” Stoops light-heartedly told the media.”A few days prior to his treatment, I pulled him out and told him to cool off, but we have to do a good job of managing him…he argued with me for about five minutes.”
Paschal confirmed Stoops’ story. “Of course I get upset [about being taken out],” the redshirt sophomore laughed. “I love my brothers, I love playing football, so it’s kind of hard for me to take a step back.”
7. Secondary Struggles Between the Ears
The secondary struggled a little bit today, but fortunately, it wasn’t for lack of talent or athleticism. More or less it’s just getting acclimated to the defense and adjusting, which should come together in time.
“It’s a struggle with a few guys,” Stoops said. “My message to the guys after the scrimmage was to have a high sense of urgency. No wasted time, no wasted reps…What worries me is their football IQ. Understanding down and distance and that’s extremely hard from those positions.”
Jordan Griffin agreed with his coach. The secondary just didn’t have and edge today. Their energy was off. Fittingly, Griffin said next time around they just have to “bring it”.
8. Who is stepping up in the secondary?
It’s no secret the secondary has a long way to go in fall camp. Jordan Griffin has seen quite a few players embrace the challenge. “We got some other guys doing some great things as well,” Griffin said. “Cedrick Dort, Tyrell Ajian, and Yusuf Corker have definitely stepped up and embraced that role [of being a leader].”
9. Brandin Echols is still Out
Junior college cornerback Brandin Echols was expected to start right away. Instead, he’s been on the sideline. According to Stoops, Echols has been dealing with a minor hamstring issue over the last month or two which has slowed him down at the start of training camp. Echols’ absence certainly doesn’t help the struggling secondary.
10. High Praise for the Tight Ends
Kentucky’s tight ends made plays in the first scrimmage. Stoops said Rigg and Upshaw looked really good in the middle of the field. Gran played both of them frequently at the same time in 12 personnel. Rigg believes he is apart of the best tight end group in the country. There will be more on that tomorrow morning on KSR.