DISCLAIMER, DISCLAIMER, DISCLAIMER
The most difficult question when watching an intrasquad scrimmage: did the offense do well, or was the defense making a bad play? It works both ways. Before you get all fired up talking about how terrible ‘so and so’ looked, and how are we gonna be able to do this if ‘so and so’ is playing terrible, quit wasting your energy. In the words of Denzil Ware, “It’s just spring camp.”
Now that I got that out of the way, here’s how things went down.
A Slow Start
“I thought we were a little tight early across the board offensively,” Stoops said within the first 30 seconds of his postgame press conference.
There were a pair of three and outs, the first caused by a dropped pass. If the windows were open in the press box I’m sure I would’ve heard a collective sigh. Once they got rolling on the ground, everything was fine, it just took some time.
Denzil was Dominant
Nobody had an eye-opening performance quite like Denzil Ware. There’s a lot more in the post below, but the man was single-handedly making stops for the defense, forcing 4th downs with quarterback sacks. He left the game briefly with an ankle injury, immediately returning with a TFL. He finished with 15 tackles, 10 solo, 4 sacks, 4.5 TFL and an unofficial forced fumble. He was the MVP. Point. Blank. Period.
A Two Minute Drill to Remember
Looking to milk the clock for a score in the four-minute drill, Drew Barker’s pass down the sideline was too far behind. Jared Tucker intercepted the pass, leading to a score that gave the White Team a lead.
Barker did not put his head down, he moved on to the next play. What followed was the best segment of the two-hour scrimmage. With 1:57 on the clock and 75-yards to go, Drew Barker showed no panic, methodically marching his team down the field.
The first play; a check down to Mikel Horton for 8 yards. Charles Walker chipped away with 8 more yards, follow by a few more yards from Horton. The defense took away his primary options once again, but Barker scrambled for a first down, killing the clock out of bounds. After an incompletion, Ryan Timmons’ comeback was good for another first down. Forced into another check down, Jojo Kemp got 16 yards to put the Cats into striking range. After a slight miscalculation on a timing route to Ryan Timmons, Barker put one right on the money to C.J. Conrad, in between two defenders for a 19-yard touchdown, leaving only 32 seconds on the clock.
We’ve heard all spring that Barker has matured. That drive proved it, and that’s just one reason why he is your starting quarterback.
A Run First Mentality
It’s not a bad mentality, just one that we’re not accustomed to. The White Team had a formidable approach with a read option game between Stephen Johnson and Sihiem King. The two combined for 133 yards on 20 carries.
On the other side, we saw a tempo run game. Even though Eddie Gran said they wouldn’t play fast today, they wasted no time. In a limited role Mikel Horton got 22 yards on 4 carries. Jojo Kemp was more explosive, getting 66 yards on 9 carries. His 37-yarder was nearly a touchdown but Darius West caught up with him. He made the other safety pay later in the day, throttling Marcus Walker with a lowered shoulder near the sideline.
I can’t forget their receptions either. Horton and Kemp were exceptional on check down receptions in the flat, earning hard yards after the catch. The two combined to catch 5 passes for 48 yards.
The DBs Didn’t Disappoint
I don’t even know why people try to throw at Chris Westry. Mark Stoops doesn’t know either. “When I see the ball going down the field on his side, immediately I’m like, ‘that’s not going to be complete.'”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe he gave up a reception all day. If you thought he looked impressive last year, he’s put on muscle. Almost too much muscle, “He’s just so darn big,” Stoops said. “I don’t want him to grow into a linebacker.”
The best part? He is not alone. His fellow sophomore-to-be on the other side, Derrick Baity, showed no mercy. Mark Stoops said it best:
“Derrick Baity has had a phenomenal spring. He is a really good player…People don’t talk about Baity, but if you didn’t have Westry on other side, you would look at Baity and say, ‘Man, that’s one of the most pretty corners you could sign.’ But then there’s a guy six-four opposite him. Derrick is 6’2″ and can move and athletic and he’s really played well.”
He not only covers well, he can deliver a blow.
Timmons Busts Out of His Funk *Knock on Wood*
I don’t think I have to tell you Ryan Timmons had a bad junior year. He knows it, we all know it. Today he reminded us of the guy we knew as a freshman. His 64-yard streaking touchdown got the fans on their feet for the first time. He was a highlight-maker, but more importantly he was a routine play-maker. For Stoops and Gran, they’re just glad to see him doing the little things right again, but they’re still gonna reserve to give him too much praise. They don’t want to jinx it like last summer.
Stoops Says They Could Still Get Stronger
Alan Cutler asked Mark Stoops in the postgame presser if his team was “SEC strong, strong enough to compete.” I’ll leave you with his mic-dropping response:
“I think we’re much improved. To say that you’re ever strong enough, I mean that’s like saying, I can’t be any prettier or have too much money. You know what I mean?”