UK Football

Has a new name entered the battle for UK kicker? And a key defender is sidelined again.

Kentucky’s defense and coordinator Matt House could benefit greatly from the addition of five new players from Georgia.
Kentucky’s defense and coordinator Matt House could benefit greatly from the addition of five new players from Georgia.

There were a few quick, interesting things to be gleaned after the University of Kentucky’s football practice on Thursday.

All eyes are on the quarterback battle this fall, but there’s perhaps a heated competition at kicker, with Miles Butler and freshman Chance Poore vying to replace UK’s all-time leading scorer, Austin MacGinnis.

In the first few days of practice, Poore has been trying to get used to the speed of the college game, special teams coach Dean Hood said.

“Just how fast that snap is and how much faster the holder gets the hold down and how much faster that rush is,” Hood explained. “He’s had to get used to that.”

Butler, a walk-on, who ably replaced MacGinnis at various times during his UK career, has been consistent.

Another name popped up in the kicker battle, too, Grant McKinniss. The punter, who lost the job after his true freshman season, has been working with the place-kickers as well.

“Grant’s been doing some kicking, too, some kicking off and some kicking,” Hood said. “He’s kind of become a combo guy. All three of those guys are doing well.”

While weakside linebacker Jordan Jones apparently has been cleared to practice after having shoulder surgery this spring, he’s “been limited quite a bit,” six days into fall camp, defensive coordinator Matt House said. Jones didn’t suffer any shoulder setbacks, but instead is dealing with an ankle injury, but he’s expected to be OK.

After practice on Thursday, August 9, 2018, Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House talked about the progression of the defensive line and how training camp has changed for the players and coaches.

As Mark Stoops noted early this summer, after the departure of senior Denzil Ware, UK moved Josh Allen over to that “Jack” linebacker spot and Boogie Watson slid into the “Sam” spot that Allen previously played. Allen could be a dangerous weapon in that spot.

The good thing about the Jack is it just allows you to rush him more at the end of the boundary,” House said. “He slides in. He can play drop, rush. It just gives us more variance there.”

Watson “made a commitment to his body” in the offseason and has added double-digit weight to his frame while still showing dangerous speed, outside linebackers coach Brad White said.

Earlier in the day, House noted that “Boogie is doing some great things.”

After practice on Thursday, August 9, 2018, Kentucky football defensive coordinator Matt House talked about the development of safety Darius West, who was injured much of his early career at UK.

If you want to know how the offense is performing, the defensive coordinator is a good place to start, and House offered up a few observations, including seeing big improvement from right tackle George Asafo-Adjei.

And Dorian Baker, who missed last season with an ankle injury, made his presence known in practice Thursday.

We felt Dorian today,” House said. “Dorian made a nice play and it’s good to see Dorian back. There’s quite a few guys on that side of the ball.”

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