UK Football

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

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.

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.”

Up next

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.

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.

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