UK conducts first football scrimmage of the spring

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky football team had its first major scrimmage of spring practice, going for one hour and 20 minutes Saturday morning at Commonwealth Stadium.

“Overall, I was very pleased,” Coach Rich Brooks said. “We got through the fairly lengthy first scrimmage with no injuries of any significance. We made some very good plays in every phase of the game. We also made some bad plays, inconsistencies, which you’re going to expect. You can’t be happy about both sides of the ball when you scrimmage yourself. Overall, I thought it was a very, very good first scrimmage.”

The most prominent story of the spring is the competition at quarterback, but it was new wide receiver E. J. Adams who stole the show today. In just his sixth practice at receiver after moving over from cornerback, Adams caught four passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, including three plays worthy of a highlight reel:

Adams caught a short pass, eluded a defender, and raced for a 62-yard gain
on a long pass, Adams outmaneuvered a defensive back who had position and made a leaping 39-yard catch
on the final play of the scrimmage, he left the secondary behind on a post pattern and caught a 52-yard touchdown bomb.
“Obviously, he (Adams) has great ability and that’s why we moved him over there,” Brooks said. “He can’t get lined up half the time yet, he has to learn to practice harder, but ability-wise, he can be a factor for us.”

The scrimmage format had the first-, second-, and third-team offense against their first-, second-, and third-team defensive counterparts. Every series began on the offense’s 35-yard line.

The top three quarterbacks, junior Curtis Pulley and sophomores Mike Hartline and Will Fidler, each played six series of downs during the scrimmage. Hartline and Pulley alternated with the first and second teams. Pulley guided the Wildcats to two touchdowns and a field goal, while Hartline directed one touchdown drive and two field goal opportunities, one made and one missed.

Fidler played one series with the first team and had five series with the third-team offense, tallying one touchdown.

“I thought all three of them did some good things and they did some things they need to get better at,” Brooks said. “That’s why we’re practicing. I was relatively pleased.”

Pulley got the scoring started with a 65-yard, 10-play drive. Junior tailback Alfonso Smith got the touchdown on a sweep around left end, breaking a tackle and scoring from five yards out. Competing with all three of the offensive units, Smith was the leading rusher of the day, running nine times for 60 yards and two TDs. Pulley also guided drives that were finished with a 24-yard field goal from Lones Seiber and a 35-yard touchdown run by fullback John Conner.

Hartline’s touchdown drive took only four plays, highlighted by Adams’ 39-yard catch and a 21-yard pass to junior tight end Ross Bogue. Smith took scoring honors on a three-yard run. Hartline’s field-goal drive was ended by a 37-yard kick by redshirt freshman Ryan Tydlacka.

Fidler’s scoring surge was capped by the 52-yard bomb to Adams on the final play of the day.

The first-team defense showed its mettle during the scrimmage. The first-teamers played six series, gave up two field goals, but did not allow a touchdown. Senior free safety Marcus McClinton and junior linebacker Micah Johnson stopped drives with interceptions.

Senior linebacker Johnny Williams led the second-team defense. He made a great play by taking the ball away from the quarterback on an attempted option play and Williams also got a quarterback sack. The third-team defense got a turnover when linebacker Chris Cessna sacked the quarterback, causing a fumble that was recovered by the defense.

“This is the most players we’ve ever had in a spring,” Brooks said. “This is clearly the most depth and talent we’ve had and it shows, I think. You have guys making plays in every facet, on offense and defense, in the front group and the backup groups. I am pleased we have improved our depth and competitiveness as we move forward.”

Kentucky returns to the practice field Monday morning at the Nutter Training Center.

Scoring plays
2nd off: Smith 5 run (Seiber kick)
1st off: Seiber 24 FG
1st off: Tydlacka 37 FG
2nd off: Conner 35 run (Housley kick)
2nd off: Smith 3 run (Uminger kick)
3rd off: Adams 52 pass from Fidler (Tydlacka kick)

Rushing (attempts – yards)
Smith 9-60, 2 TD; Pulley 6-45; Allen 7-42; Conner 2-39, 1 TD; Locke 5-31; Dixon 5-25; Bowland 10-18; Sargent 3-13; Hartline 4-9; Nance 1-1; Ramsey 1-(-1); Fidler 1-(-8)

Passing (completions – attempts - interceptions, yards)
Hartline 12-19-0, 175
Fidler 4-10-1, 92, 1 TD
Pulley 3-10-1, 31
Sargent 0-1, 0

Receiving (catches – yards)
Adams 4-167, 1 TD; Lanxter 3-14; Lyons 3-8; Drake 2-41; Bogue 1-21; Allen 1-19; Henderson 1-13; Wraley 1-7; Dixon 1-6; Mosley 1-4; Nance 1-(-2)

Spring Football Calendar: Practices are open to media and fans. Practices held at Nutter Training Facility unless noted otherwise. For practices at Nutter, fans should stand behind the ropes in the porch area. Fans may sit in the stands for practices at Commonwealth Stadium.

Practices might be moved indoors to the Nutter Field House in case of bad weather.

Mon. Apr. 7 - 9 to 11:15 a.m. (confirmed)
Wed. Apr. 9 - 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Fri. Apr. 11 - 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Sat. Apr. 12 - TBA
Mon. Apr. 14 - 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Wed. Apr. 16 - 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Fri. Apr. 18 - 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Sat. Apr. 19 - Blue/White Spring Game, 1 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium