The Kentucky Wildcat football team will participate in their second official scrimmage of fall camp tomorrow morning, where we’ll (hopefully) hear much better news than last week.
Following their first scrimmage, head coach Mark Stoops ripped both sides of the football for a mediocre performance, saying the whole team was just “average” at this point. For how talented they are as a team and how high Stoops’ expectations are for this season, it just fell flat.
So what headlines can fans expect to find tomorrow?
Is a starting quarterback named?
The question of the hour may have an answer following Kentucky’s second scrimmage tomorrow morning. If not, there should be a whole lot more clarity about the situation.
In the team’s open practice after Fan Day a few weeks back, both quarterbacks looked solid and capable of starting. That in itself was a relief. Terry Wilson had the arm strength and accuracy to complete deep balls, while Gunnar Hoak struggled a bit in that department. Hoak also seemed to get flustered when the pocket collapsed, while Wilson thrived.
In the short and medium game, Hoak was a bit more efficient and had solid chemistry with the slot receivers and tight ends. Hoak threw a tight spiral and the redshirt sophomore was able to fit the ball into tiny holes in the defense.
I was impressed with both, but came away thinking Wilson may have the slight lead in the competition. This week, however, Matt Jones said on the radio show he had been hearing whispers that Hoak was the current favorite to lead the Wildcat offense onto the field week one and it may be announced on Monday.
Stoops may not officially declare the starter tomorrow morning, but he may announce who is taking the majority of first-team reps right now. Or he’ll keep quiet about it. Who knows.
Did the offense take a step forward?
After last weekend’s scrimmage, everyone got criticized by Mark Stoops in his press conference. Quarterbacks, receivers, and the unit’s playmakers in general.
“I thought it was just not good enough today,” Stoops said. “Not a good enough scrimmage. I really was disappointed, to be honest with you. The overall scrimmage, just in general, I felt like it was a bit flat. I expected more out of these guys across the board. I felt like we were just sloppy. We had some pre-snap penalties that hurt some drives offensively. We had some drops. Late in the scrimmage, we put the ball on the ground.
“I don’t feel like anybody has stepped up on the offense to make a spectacular play,” he continued. “Wide receivers, again, I just feel like we’re very average there right now. We have nobody stepping up and making great individual plays for them. But I think the quarterbacks are a part of that as well. I think they’ve been inconsistent.”
Since then, walk-on offensive players David Bouvier and Zach Johnson did enough in practice to earn scholarships. KSR had heard Bouvier was one of the most dominant practice players both last year and to kick off this season, and a scholarship was likely coming. He’ll be a major player for the Cats on special teams and out of the slot this season.
We’ve also seen a bit of swagger from the official UK Football Twitter account, with them showing off different videos of gorgeous throws and catches, among other highlights.
Benny Snell sat out with an injury last week, so his return should help get things moving again.
Is the defensive hype justified?
With a handful of potential draft picks and preseason SEC All-Americans, it’s no secret the Kentucky defense is expected to be special this season.
In Kentucky’s open practice, they looked the part both physically and in terms of on-field success. Mike Edwards was a ball hawk, Derrick Baity and Chris Westry disrupted numerous balls on the outside, and Kash Daniel was a vocal leader in the middle. The defensive line was massive, and their collective first-step was a massive improvement from last season. They looked like a legitimate SEC defense.
And that’s why it was a shock when Stoops said he didn’t like what he saw from the defense last week.
“Defensively, just average. Felt like it was just average across the board. I didn’t really see exceptional play from either side. I just felt like it was good enough to be average today. Really not what we’re looking for,” he said.
Kash Daniel agreed, saying the performance from his unit was unacceptable.
“It was average at best,” Daniel said. “From looking at both sides of the ball, there were some good spurts here and there on the offense and the defensive side of the ball. But overall it was average. If we want to get where we need to be then today is not acceptable.”
So will they live up to their hype tomorrow morning, or should fans ease up on the defensive excitement going into the year?
The first few words out of Stoops’ mouth tomorrow should be very, very telling.
Bad practices happen, but the team can’t afford back-to-back mediocre scrimmages with the season right around the corner.