LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sophomore-to-be quarterback Maxwell Smith had 228 passing yards with one touchdown and sophomore running back Raymond Sanders charted 73 yards on 13 carries to highlight the University of Kentucky’s 116-play scrimmage at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. The annual Spring Game will be held Saturday, April 21 at 6 p.m. ET.
The scrimmage featured the first-team offense vs. the first-team defense and the second-team units against each other. Smith, who UK head coach Joker Phillips said is stronger and looks more comfortable in the pocket, found senior wide receiver E. J. Fields down the middle for a 51-yard touchdown on the fifth series of the scrimmage. Second-team QB Jacob Russell also had a TD pass as he connected on a 60-yard screen pass to sophomore wide receiver Demarco Robinson. Junior tailback Jonathan George looked impressive as he ran for 60 yards on 12 carries, including a 32-yard touchdown up the middle for the second team.
It wasn’t all about the offense Saturday in the Wildcats’ first full scrimmage. The third-year head coach was also very pleased with some plays made by defensive newcomers.
“… A lot of new faces showed up on defense, for example Josh Forrest,” Phillips said. “… (Farrington) Huguenin was a guy that kept showing up. Josh Forrest had a pick-six. (TraVaughn) Paschal – I really like the energy he gives us. Miles Simpson, who is playing Winston’s (Guy) position that makes big plays for us. We play them in coverage, we play them coming off the edge and in blitz. Marcus Caffey – I saw him show up on a few deep balls he made plays on.”
Overall, the defense recorded 14 sacks, including six by the first-team defense. Sophomore linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree and junior linebacker Avery Williamson led the Wildcats’ first-team defense with two sacks each. Forrest had a strong day with the second-team unit, recording a pair of sacks and an interception which he returned for a touchdown down the sideline. Sophomore defensive tackle Christian Coleman also had two sacks for the second-team defense.
“I was pleased with how we first started off, especially on defense,” Phillips said. “I thought the energy was really good. At the start of pre-practice, our defense came out with a lot of energy and then they gave up a big play about the third series. We just started not playing with our great fundamentals that we have been playing with, then offense starts making a few plays and I don’t think we ever regrouped defensively.”
While Phillips was pleased with the pass rush the defense created, he also noted the youth on the Wildcats’ offensive line and that they must reduce that number.
“We want to only give up one sack for every 20 (passes), and today I think we gave up two or three,” Phillips said. “It’s hard to say no sacks because of the people you have to play against. We think we can survive with one out of every 20 and today we did not survive that.”
Phillips said after the scrimmage the Wildcats had a couple guys banged up, but there were no significant injuries.
“(Donte) Rumph had an ankle problem,” Phillips said. “… He went back in and finished the scrimmage. Taylor Wyndham had an ankle as well, but he went back in and finished the scrimmage. CoShik (Williams) banged his shoulder. (Marcus) Caffey banged his shoulder also so we will check on him tomorrow and see if he can go on Wednesday, nothing serious. That has a lot to do with us knowing how to practice and play. We are a little bit more athletic and that helps as well.”
Kentucky will have spring practice No. 10 Wednesday. The Wildcats will hold their second full scrimmage next Saturday.
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