UK has strong morning practice

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mark Stoops came off the field pleased with his team's morning practice. The Wildcats are beginning a week of two-a-days. The rain poured down at Nutter Center just after Stoops finished talking to the media.

"We have been getting lucky here with this weather," Stoops said. "This has been fantastic today. A lot of work in today again with a good physical practice. A lot of reps and a lot of good work. We were good on either side of the ball at different times. Overall, a good work day. Pleased with the effort and the execution at times. Obviously, we are a little inconsistent right now, but good day of work."

Uniformed officials with whistles in hand were there for the Monday morning session, watching closely for pre-snap penalties as UK continues to adjust to the fast-paced style of Neal Brown's offense. At this point, Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow, Patrick Towles and Reese Phillips are still splitting time running the attack, but Stoops and Brown said on Monday that he and his staff are closer to narrowing down the competition.

"We're going to let the process play out," Brown said. "We're not in an extreme hurry by any means, but I think we gotta start narrowing it down and getting the reps focused more in."

The quarterback battle may be getting the most attention, but it's just "1 and 1a" among positional tug-of-wars with the center spot. There, Zach Myers and Zach West are sharing first-team reps with Max Godby on the second string. Just like at quarterback, the staff must balance priorities as decisions are made about the depth chart.

"The quicker you can narrow it down, the quicker you can pick a guy, the better," Brown said. "At the same time, you don't want to rush and make a hasty decision."

At least for the rest of this week, the plan is for the timeshare arrangement to continue for the rest of this week leading up to the first full scrimmage of the fall on Saturday.

"Saturday will be a big day," Stoops said.

Junior defensive end Za'Darius Smith is still working toward a return this week before the scrimmage. He was wearing a walking boot and sat out once again with an ankle injury, but Stoops still said it is not major. Running back Braylon Heard - a transfer who will sit out this season - also missed practice due to a cut near his eye. Defensive tackles Mister Cobble, however, returned on Monday.

UK will practice for a second time later on Monday afternoon, beginning a week of two-a-days.

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