Kentucky’s coach got a clearer picture of just what needs to be corrected on both sides of the ball after the first full-contact scrimmage of the fall, three weeks before the season opener at Southern Miss on Sept. 2.
Neither side of the ball did much to wow Mark Stoops.
“In my eyes it was just an OK scrimmage,” he said of the closed event on Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field. “I feel like we have a lot of work to do. Good thing we still have three weeks. Two weeks would be pushing it, three weeks there’s a lot of time to get some things ironed out.
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It was a mixed reaction from both coordinators as well. On the offensive side, Eddie Gran was pleased to see the team start with an extended, double-digit play drive thanks to some longer runs, but a late fumble (by an undisclosed running back) was killer. “We’re our own worst just enemy,” Gran said flatly. The first two drives could’ve been fantastic, but some routine plays weren’t made, which frustrated him. It sounded like UK was able to convert on three of its final four possessions of the scrimmage, though.
• Some injury updates: Starting left tackle Cole Mosier was hurt during the scrimmage, but there was no update on the extent of the injury or how long it might keep him sidelined. “I’m slightly concerned with Cole Mosier,” Stoops said. “Got injured out there so we’ll give you an update on Monday and see where he’s at.” … Running back Bryant Koback, who broke his leg in his senior season of high school, is still being brought back slowly this preseason, but Gran said he’d be completely cleared to go next week. … Linebacker Josh Paschal has an undisclosed issue and wasn’t able to scrimmage on Saturday, but coaches said they expect him to practice on Monday.
• Bowden’s bright future: He’s only been cleared to join the team for a week now, but it sounds like highly touted freshman wide receiver Lynn Bowden already is making an impression on coaches and teammates. He had at least four catches and made some key grabs on third-down plays, Gran said. While the coaches are bringing him up to speed, quarterbacks said they’ve been able to find him for basic plays and then he makes big plays in space. “I thought he was one of the guys that showed up and made some plays,” Gran said. “It’s hard because he hasn’t been here that long, but he went out there and he’s a competitor.”
His head coach had nice things to say about the four-star wide out from Youngstown, who is also working at punt and kick return, Stoops said. “Doesn’t want anything handed to him. He wants to earn his way. The players like him. He works extremely hard. He’s a competitive kid. He’s got a bright future.”
• On the move? It’s been an interesting fall camp for Jaylin Bannerman, whom Stoops confirmed is working some at tight end after a redshirt season as a linebacker. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound player from Pickerington, Ohio, had been trying to break into the deep rotation at outside linebacker. “We’re just trying to find the right position for him,” Stoops said. “He’s a big body we’re trying to move him around, possibly inside on the defensive line. Give him an opportunity maybe at tight end as well.”
• Standouts: Other players mentioned as having impressive scrimmages were tight ends C.J. Conrad and Justin Rigg, who both had a couple of catches. … Kayaune Ross “has taken a step up and he’s big, physical, got a couple of catches today,” Gran said, noting that in man coverage, the physical, 6-foot-6 wide out is going to be a weapon for UK. … Senior Garrett Johnson made two impressive contested catches working at both inside and outside receiver spots, Gran said. “That’s been really good for us.” … Cornerback Derrick Baity made some plays on 50-50 balls and true freshman outside linebacker Jordan Wright impressed, defensive coordinator Matt House said.
• Quiet quarterbacks? Quarterbacks usually are a big talking point out of a scrimmage, but there wasn’t much said about Stephen Johnson or Drew Barker. There was good ball security and good pass protection, Gran said, adding: “I wanted them to manage the game and where we did some good things and we didn’t turn the ball over with that first and second group in terms of throwing the ball.”