You can only take so much away from a football game that is played on the final weekend in April, but first impression of Kentucky’s Blue-White Spring Game is the Wildcats will be better; how much better will be determined when they kick off the season against UT-Martin on Saturday, August 30.
One thing head coach Mark Stoops will have in his second year at the helm of the program is speed, and that was on display in bunches on Saturday. Jojo Kemp, T.V. Williams, Ryan Timmons, and Demarco Robinson can all run with anyone in the Southeastern Conference, and add to the mix a healthy Josh Clemons, an eligible Braylon Heard, and true freshman Mikel Horton and you’re looking at the kind of speed Kentucky seen in years.
As expected for a spring football game, quarterback play was hit and miss. Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips, and Drew Barker all played with both first and second strings. Towles looked most impressive. He appeared to have more control of the offense and the ball just moved better down the field with him in the backfield. The redshirt sophomore finished the afternoon11-of-16 for 116 yards with one interception. Phillips wasn’t too shabby either, throwing for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17 passing. Barker, the player Big Blue Nation has talked about since he signed with UK one year ago, played like a freshman. He did finish with 10 completions in 19 attempts with one touchdown, but like most freshman, seemed taken aback by the speed of the game. I will say this…Barker will be good. He just needs time.
One reason for average-above average quarterback play was a thin receiving corps, which is one position Kentucky must develop depth if it wants to compete in the SEC. Robinson played like a returning veteran, hauling in eight passes for a game-high 115 yards and a score. He caught deep balls, screens, and did just about everything you could ask from a leader at a key position. Freshman Thaddeus Snodgrass has great size and showed some of his speed, but passes thrown his way were just a little off, but like Barker at QB, is the future of Kentucky football.
It is a very exciting time for Kentucky football fans. From the first time he took the podium in December of 2012, Stoops has instilled excitement and optimism into Big Blue Nation, and the trend will continue into his second season on the sideline.
The Cats aren’t there yet. There are still a few years away from building that depth that is needed to battle the likes of Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina on a week-in, week-out basis, but it won’t be long. The players are taking notice of what is going on in Lexington, and they believe they are the ones who will be a part of something great.
Now it’s your turn BBN. Believe in this team. Believe in this program. Believe in this coaching staff. And believe in each other.