Instant analysis from Kentucky’s spring football game:
How the game was won
The Blue team (the first string) got two touchdown passes from Drew Barker and 15 tackles from Denzil Ware and beat the White 31-20.
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1.) Denzil Ware. The sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker had 10 tackles and three sacks in the first half alone, then forced a fumble on the first play of the second half. Ten of his 15 stops were solo.
2). Ryan Timmons. Coming off a rough junior season, it was nice to see the ex-Franklin County star catch a 64-yard touchdown pass and make a key reception on another Blue team TD drive.
3.) The White team. When the backups are leading the starters 13-10 late in the first half of an intrasquad scrimmage, it’s a moral victory.
4.) The weather. It was sunny, warm and glorious — a perfect spring game environment (and, yes, the game itself doesn’t matter much when you are commenting on the weather).
1.) Mark Stoops’ coaching honeymoon. By historic Kentucky standards, the crowd at UK’s 2016 spring game (announced at 28,441, which was tickets distributed, not the 7,000 or 8,000 people I’d say were actually in the stadium) was respectable. But it was a long way off the estimated 50,831 (which was a legit guess) that showed up for Stoops’ initial Blue-White Game in 2013.
12-for-18 for 156 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Those were the statistics, all accumulated in the first half, by presumptive UK starting QB Drew Barker.
The Blue team wore blue helmets and jerseys with white pants. The White team wore blue helmets, white jerseys and white pants.
UK’s season opener will be against Southern Mississippi (9-5, the Conference-USA West Division winner) on Sept. 3 at Commonwealth Stadium.
Know your foe
1). Kentucky added Southern Miss to its schedule to replace UAB after the Blazers, temporarily as it turned out, dropped football. In exchange for USM signing on to be a late fill-in for 2016, UK agreed to open its 2017 season at Hattiesburg, Miss.
2). At the time Kentucky agreed to play Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles had gone 4-32 over the prior three seasons (2012-14). Last year, under third-year head coach Todd Monken, Southern Miss turned things around, averaging 39.9 points and 509.5 yards a game.
3). Monken left Southern Mississippi to become offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. USM hired former Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson as his replacement. Hopson tabbed Shannon Dawson — fired after last season as UK offensive coordinator — to run his offense.
If nothing else, the 2016 Kentucky season opener should feature one highly motivated play caller on the visitor’s sideline.