University of Kentucky football fans have never quite brought down the house for the Blue-White Spring Game.
Last year, coming off back-to-back bowl seasons, an estimated crowd of 8,500 showed up at Commonwealth Stadium. Two years ago, a Wildcat team coming off its first bowl bid in seven seasons only drew 5,000.
There will be fewer distractions for this year's game than in years past. The Keeneland spring meet ended on Friday. Thunder over Louisville took place last weekend. And the weather forecast, which at times has been a hindrance, couldn't be more perfect (low to mid-80s and sunny). Admission and parking are free.
UK Coach Rich Brooks stopped short of campaigning for a big crowd, but he appeared eager to see how many fans would actually show up.
"I hope for packed stadiums in the fall and a lot of noise ... more so than a big turnout in the spring game," he said. "But it would be nice. I read one article this week that said there are no excuses for this year since it doesn't conflict with Keene land or Thunder and all that other stuff. We'll see what the interest is for spring football."
Brooks said this has been one of UK's better springs in terms of efficiency.
"The players have had a very good spring so far," Brooks said. "I hope we finish it the way we've practiced every day. I can't remember a really bad practice this spring at all, and almost every spring we've had at least one, sometimes two. I'm very encouraged by the attitude of this football team."
The Blue/White Game will be the last chance for players to impress the coaching staff before fall camp, although most players will stick around to work out and attend summer school.
Kentucky has had several young players step up on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Danny Trevathan, safety Winston Guy and cornerback Randall Burden look ready to step into the starting lineup.
One player who hasn't gotten a lot of publicity but has pleased Brooks is sophomore safety Matt Lentz, a big hitter who made the switch from quarterback a year ago.
"He's very aggressive and doing a good job of playing the ball as well," Brooks said of Lentz.
Offensively, one player who has helped himself is senior offensive lineman Christian Johnson. Though he needs to get closer to his playing weight of 315 pounds, Johnson has for the moment reclaimed the starting left-tackle job he had in 2006. Johnson said he'll be in Lexington for both summer sessions to focus on academics and getting in better shape.
"It's not going to end in spring. I've got to push myself all summer," Johnson said.
Though he'll be interested in how many bodies are in the stands, Brooks plans on keeping his focus primarily on the field.
"What I want to do is evaluate players and hopefully get better and stay healthy," he said. "If we can do that and have a big crowd on top of it, that would be wonderful."