UK Football

Blue Review: Instant analysis from Kentucky football’s spring game

Mark Stoops on benefits of extending spring practice over more weeks

University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops spoke with media members following the Blue-White spring football game.
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University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops spoke with media members following the Blue-White spring football game.

Instant analysis from the Blue team’s 31-14 win over the White team at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night:

How the game was won

Sihiem King ran for two touchdowns and Benny Snell ran for one as the Blue team (the UK starters) beat the White (UK backups) 31-14.

Game balls

1. Gunnar Hoak. The redshirt freshman quarterback was sharp while directing the White team (the UK backups) in the first half (12-of-18 passing, 92 yards, two touchdowns). He came back in the second half and directed the two game-clinching TD drives for the Blue team.

2. Jamin Davis and Jamar “Boogie” Watson. Davis, a true freshman linebacker from Ludowici, Ga., had eight tackles for the White. Watson, a redshirt freshman from Forestville, Md., had four quarterback sacks — three for the White, one for the Blue.

3. Adrian Middleton. Some are projecting the redshirt junior defensive tackle from South Warren as Kentucky’s breakout defensive lineman in 2017. The five tackles and one QB sack he had for the Blue in the first half backed up that talk.

University of Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson spoke with reporters following the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

Running gassers

1. Jordan Jones. Kentucky’s standout junior linebacker was held out of the game after UK announced he had missed a team meeting Friday morning.

2. Stephen Johnson. UK’s incumbent starting quarterback began the game 6-of-8 passing for 91 yards for the Blue. He went 2-of-10 for 15 yards with an interception the rest of the way.

3. UK punting. After a shaky true freshman season in 2016, Kentucky punter Grant McKinniss needed a strong spring to reassert his hold on his position. Seven punts for an average of 36.7 yards in the spring game wasn’t stellar, though the 50-yarder he boomed in the fourth quarter showed what Kentucky sees in him.

Kentucky sophomore running back Benny Snell is asked about being coached by offensive coordinator and running backs coach Eddie Gran.

Fashion police

The Blue team wore blue helmets, blue jerseys and white pants. The White team wore blue helmets, white jerseys and white pants.

Cat-mosphere

Ex-UK star linebacker Danny Trevathan flashed the Super Bowl ring he won with the Denver Broncos while being interviewed on Commonwealth Stadium’s giant video screens. Former Kentucky women’s basketball star Evelyn Akhator — the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday’s WNBA Draft by Dallas — was recognized on the field. She told UK Radio’s Dick Gabriel going so high in the draft “was like a dream.”

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Kentucky will open its 2017 season on the road at Southern Mississippi on Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. In 2016, Coach Jay Hopson's Golden Eagles went 7-6 with a 28-21 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl.

Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House talks about the play of redshirt freshman Boogie Watson and true freshman Jamin Davis in Friday's Blue-White game.

Know your foe

1. With former Kentucky offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson — fired by Mark Stoops after the 2015 season — calling the plays for Southern Mississippi, the Golden Eagles rallied from a 35-10 deficit to defeat UK 44-35 in Commonwealth Stadium in the 2016 season opener.

2. Southern Mississippi returns 12 starters from last season, six on each side of the ball. Running back Ito Smith, who gashed Kentucky for 173 yards and had a team-high five receptions vs. UK last season, is one of the returnees.

3. Southern Miss star quarterback Nick Mullens (11,994 career passing yards with 87 TD passes) has graduated. Keon Howard, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore from Laurel, Miss., and Kwadra Griggs, a 6-3, 225-pound redshirt junior from Greenwood, Miss., are expected to carry their battle for the USM starting QB job into fall camp.

University of Kentucky offensive lineman Drake Jackson spoke with reporters following the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

University of Kentucky linebacker Jamar "Boogie" Watson spoke with reporters after the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

University of Kentucky cornerback Derrick Baity spoke with reporters following the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

Kentucky quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw talks about the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Gunnar Hoak in the Blue-White game.

University of Kentucky wide receiver Charles Walker spoke with reporters following the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

University of Kentucky running back Sihiem King spoke with Herald-Leader sportswriter Jennifer Smith following the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran talks about running back Sihiem King, who rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries in the spring game.

Kentucky redshirt freshman quarterback Gunnar Hoak talks about his performance in the spring game. Hoak completed 16 of 24 passes for 174 yards no two touchdowns.

University of Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel spoke with reporters after the 2017 Blue-White spring game.

After Kentucky football's annual spring game Friday night, head coach Mark Stoops said he was pleased with spring practice.

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