The first spring scrimmage for the University of Kentucky football team looked a lot like last fall: The defense controlled most of the action, and the offense labored to move the ball.
Saturday's scrimmage lasted slightly more than 100 plays, and the Wildcats' marquee defenders all made their presence felt. Cornerback Trevard Lindley picked off a Mike Hartline pass and took it 36 yards for a touchdown. Defensive end Jeremy Jarmon had a sack and a forced fumble. Linebacker Micah Johnson had a fumble recovery.
"The defense definitely had the upper hand," UK Coach Rich Brooks said.
Hartline went 17-for-30 for 102 yards and two interceptions, though he did lead the offense to a late touchdown, a 15-yard bubble screen to Kyrus Lanxter.
Brooks said Hartline wasn't helped by the play of the receivers, who had shown improvement before dropping several passes on Saturday.
"I'm not real happy with the receivers," Brooks said. "There were a lot of balls on the ground that should have been caught."
Brooks said it's time for the wide receivers to start making tough catches and not just the ones that land right in their hands.
"They aren't always going to be perfect (passes)" Brooks said. "They've got to be able to make adjustments."
Backup quarterback Will Fidler also threw a touchdown on an 18-yarder over the middle to Gene McCaskill.
A promising sign on defense was the play of young defensive backs Winston Guy, Randall Burden and Cartier Rice. Guy forced a fumble, and Rice had an interception and half a sack.
Also making progress was sophomore Anthony Mosley, who moved from wide receiver late last season. Mosley, who was said to have run a 4.3-second 40 coming out of high school, has moved up to the second team.
Secondary coach Chris Thurmond said Mosley's speed will become more of an asset as he learns the system.
"Speed is as good as what you know," Thurmond said. "If you know what you're doing, you're going to play a whole lot faster."
Other bright spots on the second-team defense were defensive end Taylor Wyndham, who had a sack in which he forced and recovered a fumble, and linebacker Jacob Dufrene, who had an interception.
In the kicking game, Lones Seiber made a 38-yard field goal and missed one from 47 yards. Ryan Tydlacka misfired on a 48-yarder.
Redshirt freshman walk-on Coshik Williams is turning out to be one of the biggest revelations of the spring. Williams led all rushers Saturday with 91 yards on 16 carries.
Williams played high school ball at Hiram (Ga.) High School, which also produced Trevard Lindley.
Coach Rich Brooks said the next step for Williams, who has top-flight speed, is to learn how to get yardage inside.
"He's got to learn in the SEC you've got to run downhill instead of trying to make everything a long run," Brooks said.
Williams said he wants to gain 10 more pounds over the summer to help him gain those tough inside yards.
"In high school, when I got people on the outside, I just outran them," he said. "But at this level, everybody's just as fast as you."
Williams said he was recruited by South Carolina, Georgia Tech and N.C. State, but he didn't get a qualifying test score. Lindley got word to Joker Phillips about Williams, who visited for last year's Blue/White Spring Game before enrolling in the fall.
Quarterback Mike Hartline played Saturday despite tendinitis in his right (throwing) shoulder. Hartline will be held out of Monday's practice and could miss more time.
Also, redshirt freshman Trevino Woods, who was backing up Zipp Duncan at left tackle, will miss the rest of the spring after he separated his shoulder falling off his bicycle. Backup linebacker Mikhail Mabry is also out indefinitely after pulling his quadriceps during a track class this week.
Offensive linemen Dave Ulinski (illness) and Jake Lanefski (hamstring) returned to action after missing practice time this week.
Quarterback/receiver Randall Cobb (knee) sat out the scrimmage and isn't expect to face contact for at least another week.
Brooks credits players for Maker's Mark tribute
Rich Brooks said he missed his first practice in 45 years on Friday in order to sign his commemorative Maker's Mark bottles at Keeneland. Maker's Mark produced 18,000 numbered, limited-edition bottles honoring Brooks. It will donate the profits to a program that takes UK School of Music performing groups into rural public schools and communities throughout Kentucky.
The line for autographs started forming Wednesday afternoon, and Brooks said he signed about 700 on Thursday and 2,000 on Friday. Brooks said the tribute is as big a statement to his players as it is to him.
"It couldn't have happened without their drive and determination, and the fact they brought pride back to Kentucky football is why my mug is on those bottles," he said.
UK is currently starting Zipp Duncan at left tackle and Stuart Hines at left guard. If that holds up in the fall, the left side of the Wildcat line could boast a spiffy nickname: "Duncan Hines."