UK Football

Sharp Kentucky QBs, offensive fireworks light up spring game. See who else excelled.

Photo slideshow: UK football Blue-White spring football game

Blue defeats White 64-10 in the UK Blue-White spring football game Friday at Kroger Field in Lexington.
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Blue defeats White 64-10 in the UK Blue-White spring football game Friday at Kroger Field in Lexington.

Some notes and observations from the 2019 Kentucky Blue-White spring football game, which was won by the Blue team of mostly starters, 64-10:

Wilson’s second spring

Terry Wilson’s debut at Kroger Field last season was lackluster: He went 10-of-24 with an interception and no touchdown passes. This year was another story.

Wilson completed his first eight passes — a streak aided by a pass interference penalty drawn by Josh Ali on the Blue Team’s second drive — and threw two TDs before sitting out the remainder after leading the Blue to its fourth score in as many drives against a second-team defense that had a tough time keeping up.

Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden said after UK football’s Spring Game on Friday, April 12, 2019, that he and quarterback Terry Wilson have a bond like peanut butter and jelly. Which one is the peanut butter and which one is the jelly?

Three of those completions went for 20-plus yards, including a 60-yard bomb to Isaiah Epps — a junior who could emerge as a receiving threat opposite Lynn Bowden, the Cats’ only proven receiver — and a 42-yard TD toss to Bowden. Wilson overall finished 10-for-12 for 191 yards and was credited with only one rushing attempt, which ended in a “sack” for a loss of 2 yards.

Backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak — who could transfer with two years of eligibility left after graduating next month — was unable to lead the White Team to a scoring drive early until about four minutes remained in the first half, but that drive seem to loosen him up.

Hoak was 6-for-6 on six straight pass plays with the Blue Team on its following drive, which ended in an A.J. Rose score. That gave Hoak his own streak of eight consecutive completions over the two drives. He was 14-of-15 with the Blue side and finished 23-of-30 for 262 yards and two TDs overall.

Run, run, run

Chris Rodriguez, a redshirt freshman, started for the White Team at running back and had the most impressive showing of anyone on its offense — and showed why he’s drawn comparisons to Benny Snell.

Rodriguez’s production wasn’t eye-popping — 71 yards on 17 carries across both units — but he hit his spots and absorbed blows from UK’s top defenders. Multiple plays ended with him carrying defenders for an extra yard or 2, including the White Team’s first TD with 4:18 left to play in the second quarter. A fumble caused by sophomore linebacker Jamin Davis and recovered by Boogie Watson was Rodriguez’s only visible error.

UK quarterback Terry Wilson talked about wide receivers’ consistency and freshman Bryce Oliver following the 2019 Kentucky Blue-White game on Friday.

Fellow running backs A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke impressed in their touches with the Blue Team. Smoke took off for an 87-yard TD on his first rush and finished with a game-best 132 yards and two TDs on five rushes. Rose had 86 yards and three TDs on 11 rushes.

Biggest winners?

The spring game worked out nicely for redshirt freshman Bryce Oliver.

Oliver, a receiver who started for the White Team before finishing with the other unit, ended with 105 yards and a TD on eight receptions, a couple of them with a defender on his heels. He was a favorite target of Hoak

Linebacker Jared Casey — an early enrollee out of Ballard High School in Louisville — was among the first-half leaders in tackles. Throughout the spring he was mentioned as a player who could see the field this fall as a true freshman.

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team’s annual Blue-White Spring Game on Friday, April 12, 2019. Stoops said he was happy with the way his first-teamers performed on offense and defense.

Kash-free

Kash Daniel was the most notable non-participant in Friday’s spring game. Daniel, who practiced sparingly throughout the spring and served more as an adviser to the team’s younger linebackers, is continuing to heal from nicks and bruises suffered during the 2018 season and was held out for precautionary reasons (“load management,” for the NBA fans out there).

Keaton Upshaw, a tight end who sat out his freshman season with a knee injury, was also unavailable due to a lingering hamstring injury suffered during practice.

Kentucky football place-kicker Chance Poore kicked a 52-yard field goal in the team’s annual Blue-White Spring Game on Friday, April 12, 2019. Poore’s kick might have been good from 60 yards out as the redshirt freshman showed a strong leg.

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