It's time to get down to business for the Kentucky football team, as the Wildcats hold their first full scrimmage Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
UK Coach Rich Brooks said the scrimmage will be pivotal as his team prepares for the Aug. 31 opener at Louisville. He will spend most of his time evaluating his own personnel in Saturday's scrimmage, then he will have a second scrimmage the following week to start planning for the Cardinals.
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“First, we've got to narrow it down on who we're going to work with in getting ready for Louisville,” Brooks said. “(Saturday) will be totally about evaluating where we are at each position and seeing who's ready to play and who needs some work. Then the following scrimmage, we'll be going against some stuff we think Louisville might be doing.
“But the major evaluation is going to happen (Saturday). We have drills, and all these different things going on, and we're working on fundamentals. They're a little leg weary, so I don't expect it to be crisp as it would be if we had a lot of freshness in us ... but I want to see effort and I want to see execution.”
Not surprisingly, the inexperienced UK offense has had some uneven moments going up against the more seasoned defense.
“The offense has done some good things, but it's not consistent,” Brooks said. “That's something we've got to work toward. The defense has done a lot of good things, but I'm not sure if that's because the defense is really good or the offense is quite a ways behind.”
The Wildcats have been grinding this week. They practiced twice on Thursday and have had 11 practices in the last six days. Brooks had the players review assignments on Friday in preparation for the scrimmage.
When asked which position battles he would be paying close attention to, Brooks said, “Every one of them.”
Brooks said a few players are nursing minor bumps and bruises, but the Wildcats have escaped the rash of serious injuries that has affected some Southeastern Conference teams this fall. Brooks noted though that the Wildcats haven't done much scrimmaging yet.
“I've lost guys in shorts, so you never know when an injury is going to happen, so you're just hoping for the best and encouraging guys to keep their feet moving and stay out of piles,” he said.
The weather hasn't been terribly hot, but the Wildcats don't appear to have any major conditioning issues heading into the opener at Louisville.
One player who does need to drop a few pounds is sophomore running back Moncell Allen. The 5-foot-7 Allen entered camp weighing 230 pounds, which is about 10 pounds heavier than Brooks would like.
Allen missed a couple of days this week with a slightly pulled hamstring. But when he's out there he said he's carrying a heavy workload and running extra after practice to shed some weight.
“I'm running the ball more than anybody right now,” Allen said. “Anytime Coach Brooks puts the No. 1 (unit) in, he'll be like, ‘Turtle' (Allen's nickname), get in there. I'm like, ‘Aw, man, I gotta get back in there again?' I can carry the weight, but Coach Brooks thinks I could be lighter on my feet.”