LEXINGTON, Ky. - A sharp performance by quarterback Mike Hartline highlighted the first Kentucky preseason scrimmage, which went for more than an hour Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium.
“Pretty good first scrimmage,” Coach Rich Brooks said afterward. “It was obvious that we’re a little dead-leggged. It wasn’t as crisp. The first-string defense was not as aggressive, not as good as they have been. The first-string offense (led by Hartline) took the ball down the first two possessions and scored, one a 16- or 15-play drive and one about eight or nine (plays).”
The scrimmage primarily featured the first-, second-, and third-team offensive and defensive units against each other. Some players got moved up and down in order to give them additional looks against different opponents.
“(There were some) Good things individually. This will be a good teaching film,” Brooks said. “(Donald) Russell and Jonathan George (freshman running backs) broke some decent runs. Hartline threw the ball very well. He must have had an incompletion although I can’t remember if he did or not.”
Here are some other observations from Brooks:
* On the receivers: “(Randall) Cobb and (Chris) Matthews did some good things. Ross Bogue caught some. So did (Kyrus) Lanxter, caught maybe three or four. It was pretty good by everybody. I don’t think I saw a drop (dropped pass). That’s a shock. Last year I saw a whole bunch of ‘em.”
* On the progress of the offense: “It’s night and day where we were a year ago. Matthews has helped on that receiving end, being such a big target and talented. Randall Cobb looked very good today. Hartline threw the ball accurately -- deep, short and middle, in every situation. I think he missed one check today, other than that he was pretty good.”
* On the offensive line: “It was OK. I’ll reserve judgment because that needs a little more film study to tell some of that. We mixed it up a little bit. (Freshman Larry) Warford went with the first (team). We moved (right guard) Stuart Hines to the left and then moved him back the other way.”
* On junior-college defensive end DeQuin Evans: “We had DeQuin Evans working on the first-team defense some. He got a sack today.”
* On the freshman linebackers: “Qua Huzzie and Ridge Wilson have done very well. (Ryan) Mosby has done pretty well, too. I think we’re in pretty good shape there.”
* Additional comments on the linebackers: “I think Sam Maxwell did some good things today and so did (Danny) Trevathan.”
* On the progress of Marcus Davis and Matt Smith at center: “They’re doing OK. Smith needs to get lower in everything he does. His fundamentals need to improve a little bit. Marcus can get overpowered on occasion, but they’re doing well. The ball’s not on the ground, that’s a plus.”
* On the backup quarterbacks: “Will (Fidler) didn’t have a particularly great day. He had one great throw deep to (Eric) Adeyemi. The freshmen (Ryan Mossakowski and Morgan Newton) looked like freshmen. They’re working with the seconds and thirds. Everything around them isn’t functioning correctly all the time either. That doesn’t help them. There’s obviously talent in both of them. They do some really good things, but they’re a ways away and we’ll have to see how that all plays out.”
* On the team’s position battles: “All of them are being battled right now. Tight end’s a battle, tailback is going to be a battle. Alfonso (Smith) did OK today. Moncell (Allen) made some nice runs. CoShik (Williams) came back and carried the ball a little bit. The freshmen continue to get better and looked a little less like freshmen, but they’re still freshmen. The offensive line is still competitive. Defensive end is very competitive.”
Two players sustained injuries during the scrimmage, the extent of which are not known at this point. Wide receiver Michael Harper appeared to injure his back after twisting awkwardly while being tackled. Cornerback Paul Warford sustained a strained a groin and wasn’t able to finish the scrimmage.
The Wildcats return to the practice field Sunday afternoon. Kentucky’s season opener is three weeks away, vs. Miami on Sept. 5 in Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.